Corrections News Nov-Dec 2011

Chief Executive's comment

 Executive Ray SmithLast year I carried out my first task as Chief Executive when I joined staff and prisoners at Waikeria Prison for their Christmas lunch. I was surprised to learn that the lunch of chicken and vegetables was the same across all New Zealand’s prisons. I’ve learnt a lot more since that day and as I reach my one year anniversary, I’d like to take this opportunity to look back at 2011.

One highlight has been the introduction of smokefree prisons. We are the first country in the world to have smokefree prisons. Apart from the health and economic benefits this brings to both prisoners and staff, it has also made prisons a safer place to be, as evidenced by the significant drop in intentionally lit fires since the ban was imposed. 

In 2011 we opened several new rehabilitation units, including drug treatment units, mothers with babies units and the Whare Oranga Ake units, which are run by external providers according to kaupapa Maori values and stand outside the prison perimeter.

The Community Probation Services’ change programme made significant progress with the implementation of the integrated practice framework and the upcoming modernisation project will help us manage and monitor offenders in the community more effectively.

Other successes include the use of audio-visual technology in Courts and record numbers of prisoners being engaged in employment and education. We had the lowest ever number of escapes and the lowest ever positive drug tests. 

Of course, the tragic Christchurch earthquake was the biggest event of 2011, affecting hundreds of our staff, offenders and their families. I was overwhelmed at how our people responded to this disaster. Not only did they support each other and the local community, but there has been ongoing, practical support to this day, with prisoners being given the skills that will be needed most as we move to rebuild Christchurch.

You can read more about our progress in Corrections’ 2010/2011 Annual Report

It’s been a year of great highs accompanied by major challenges. My thanks to the Corrections staff and to all those we work with every day. Merry Christmas to you all and I look forward to an exciting 2012.

Ray Smith

Polynesian Arts Creation course

Art produced by Pacific prisoners at Spring Hill Corrections Facility.The beautiful creations produced during a Polynesian Arts Creation course at Spring Hill Corrections Facility were the result of
a constructive intervention programme at the Pacific Focus Unit.

Through arts and crafts, 27 Pacific prisoners learned how to take instructions from strangers and were taught how to respond if they didn’t agree with the instructions. They were challenged to consider how they would respond if they were approached in the same way by someone in the community. The course tested their patience and how to manage their anger from a Polynesian perspective.

Aspects of the course taught them to reflect on traditional Pacific cultural values which many of them were brought up with. “It made some of them question where they went wrong to have ended up in prison,” says Regional Pacific Adviser Asenati Lole-Taylor.

The course taught other ideas, such as realising their potential and using the resources available to them. For some, the course was an opportunity to consider continuing with Polynesian art as a business venture on release from prison. “Flax and nikau leaves are all over the place; you don’t need start up capital for this type of art,” says Asenati.

New Drug Treatment Unit treats addiction, strengthens cultural identity

Corrections Minister Hon Judith Collins and CareNZ Chief Executive Tim Harding at the opening of the new Drug Treatment Unit at Whanganui Prison.A new Drug Treatment Unit opened at Whanganui Prison in September will be a rehabilitation boost, especially for Maori prisoners.

In a first for Corrections, the new Drug Treatment Unit is based inside the prison’s Maori Focus Unit – aligning two complementary approaches to rehabilitating Maori offenders.

Rehabilitation and Reintegration General Manager Alison Thom says it is about getting prisoners easy access to the right rehabilitation at the right time.

“This innovation brings together drug treatment and the Maori Focus Unit in one residential setting. Prisoners can address their addictions while at the same time strengthening their cultural identity, both of which help reduce re-offending.

“Studies show Maori respond well to rehabilitation programmes generally and placing the Drug Treatment Unit in the Maori Focus Unit will only enhance that.”

Access is not limited to Maori, although any prisoner entering the Maori Focus Unit must abide by the kaupapa.

The 12-week drug treatment programme is run by clinical staff from CareNZ and is targeted at prisoners serving shorter prison sentences of between four and 12 months. 

At any time there will be 45 prisoners at various phases of the programme, with about 130 prisoners expected to engage in the programme each year.

CareNZ Chief Executive Tim Harding says his organisation is grateful for another opportunity to work in collaboration with Corrections.

“CareNZ already delivers eight therapeutic communities in partnership with Corrections which have proven to be very successful.”

“It’s about delivering an effective intervention that will change the lives of the prisoners, their families and their communities.”

There are now nine Drug Treatment Units in prisons across the country. 

Six-month programmes are run at Spring Hill Corrections Facility, Hawke’s Bay Prison, Waikeria Prison, Arohata Prison, Rimutaka Prison and Christchurch Men’s Prison. 

The more intensive three-month programmes are run at Otago Corrections Facility, Auckland Prison and Whanganui Prison.

From farm to reform - 100 Years of Waikeria Prison

Locals still remember the day Sir Charles Kingsford Smith landed his plane in a paddock at Waikeria Prison in 1934.On Wednesday 18 January 1911, Waikeria Prison’s first Acting Gaoler George W. Reid opened his journal, picked up his fountain pen and wrote, “Started building with four men employed” . Reid’s team was setting up camp for the prisoners and gaolers developing Waikeria Reformatory Farm, the “most up to date prison in the world” , to be situated on 1,250 acres of scrubland between the banks of the Waikeria and Mangatutu Streams outside Te Awamutu. 

One hundred years on, Waikeria Prison is one of New Zealand’s largest prisons, accommodating 1,000 prisoners and employing 480 staff. The prison commemorated its centenary on 17 November 2011, with 150 guests enjoying a tour of the prison, historical bus trip and the unveiling of a Centennial Plaque. Among the guests were staff, past and present, local kaumatua, representatives from the emergency services and members of the Waikeria community. The 100th anniversary was an occasion for people to come together, share their stories and pay tribute to those who have passed away over the years, both staff and prisoners. 

Waikeria Prison began life as a working farm with 30-40 prisoners and an emphasis on vocational training. New Zealand needed farmers and Waikeria would provide them, reformed and ready to plough the land. Sir John Findlay, the chief proponent of the prison, summed up the reformative zeal that led to its development; “A very large proportion of fallen humanity could, under conditions such as would be provided at the reformatory farm, by industry be reformed.” Sir John set two main objectives for the prison – “The protection of Society and the reformation of the criminal”  – aims that resonate today in Corrections’ priorities of public safety and reducing re-offending. 

The majority of the early inmates were young, “reformable” men serving short sentences for minor criThe present-day prison administration block was built in 1917 by prison labour.mes. Historically, Waikeria has focussed on the rehabilitation of young offenders. In 1925 Waikeria opened a borstal institution. In 1961 New Zealand’s first youth detention centre was set up. The sentence provided a short period of discipline and hard work, coupled with education. Both detention centres and borstal training were abolished in 1981, at which time Waikeria became a youth institution. In 1985 Waikeria Prison was reinstated as a men’s prison. 

Gavin Dalziel, Corrections’ Acting Assistant Regional Manager, began work as a Prison Officer in 1976 at Waikeria Borstal. Borstals and detention centres were run along strict military principles. “The inmates were given short haircuts and marched everywhere. It was all about the short, sharp shock.” Gavin notes that he still meets some of the borstal boys from 30 years ago in prison today, which may be an indication of the lack of success of that particular style. He’s even been around long enough to see some of their grandchildren enter the prison system. “A few years back I was in the Receiving Office. This young guy came up to me and asked, ‘Are you Mr Dalziel? Grandad says hi’.” He believes that thankfully the approach we take these days has a far better chance of stopping the cycle of offending than other attempts over the last 100 years. 

Back in the seventies there was no tactical communications programme or control and restraint training for staff, but it didn’t take Gavin and his colleagues long to realise that a prison officer’s role wasn’t about force. “It’s about being firOne of three inmates’ dormitories from 1962. Prisoners relax after a day at work.m but fair, showing respect and treating people the way you want to be treated.”

Waikeria Prison Manager Kevin Smith welcomed the opportunity to gather ex-staff and the local community together to mark the centenary. “It’s not about celebrating the prison, no-one wants to celebrate a hundred years of locking people up. It’s about celebrating the amazing people who have contributed so much to this place and the local community over the years.” 

Among those attending the celebrations was 84 year-old Alison Silvester (nee Ray). Mrs Silvester’s father, Philip Ray, was a Warden at Waikeria from 1923 and his brother, Arthur Ray, was the Farm Manager. The family lived in Waikeria Village from 1927 until they moved into Te Awamutu in 1944. 

Mrs Silvester vividly recalls her childhood in Waikeria, in particular one evening in 1934 when aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith landed his plane, The Southern Cross, at Waikeria. “Dad took us to the paddock he had prepared as an aerodrome and the wardens let us get up close and see inside the plane.”

An interesting episode in New Zealand’s celluloid history has links to Waikeria. Mrs Silvester remembersThe prison farm today. Waikeria Prison dairy farm today teaches prisoners modern farming skills that will lead to qualifications. Rudall Hayward’s film “Rewi’s Last Stand” being remade with sound in 1940. “Maori prisoners were used as extras. In the evenings we would listen to them practising their hakas and war chants in the recreation yard.”

While many things have changed in the last hundred years, today Waikeria Prison retains its strong focus on the rehabilitative powers of work and employment.

Corrections a finalist in Maori Language Awards

The Department of Corrections has been named a finalist in the 2011 Maori Language Awards Government category, for excellence in te reo Maori. 

The awards, hosted by Te Taura Whiri, aim to celebrate Maori language regeneration and innovation.

Corrections Director Maori Neil Campbell says the Department is helping contribute to the regeneration of te reo Maori by encouraging the use of te reo and tikanga in a way that is meaningful and relevant for both offenders and staff.

“It is an honour to be named as a finalist in these awards. As Maori offenders make up over half of the offender population, we need to succeed with Maori in order to reduce re-offending overall.

“Through rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, offenders are given the opportunity to explore their culture and language and understand how the two can empower them to make better lifestyle choices.”

Tikanga Maori is integrated into Corrections’ programmes, with a core component of te reo Maori, and aims to motivate offenders to address their behaviour using Maori philosophy, values, knowledge and practices. 

Corrections also offers therapeutic programmes which follow a bi-cultural therapy model and allow for psychologists to work with Maori providers in a culturally appropriate way. 

“We encourage all staff to learn te reo Maori, pronunciation and how to use te reo words in their everyday work. It’s permeating right through the organisation, we’re seeing our employees using more te reo in their email communication and correspondence, and becoming more comfortable using waiata, karakia and mihimihi,” says Neil.

“Whether or not we win an award, we will continue to invest in our staff capability in te reo and tikanga Maori, and we will keep working towards succeeding with Maori offenders.”

New prison units for mothers with babies

 In late September, Minister of Corrections, Hon Judith Collins, opened two new Mothers with Babies Units at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility. She also opened two refurbished Mothers with Babies Units at Christchurch Women’s Prison.

The changes to the units came as a result of the Corrections (Mothers with Babies) Amendment Act 2008 which came into force on 19 September. The Act means mothers in prison can keep their children with them up to the age of two and opens up participation to a wider pool of women.

“Each year around a dozen babies in this country are born to mothers who are in prison. Irrespective of their mother’s circumstances, these babies deserve a good start and to be with their mothers,” said Ms Collins.

The self-care units give mothers with babies the chance to bond in a safe and supportive environment where decisions made are in the best interests of the child.

“Mothers in the units have the opportunity to develop confidence in their ability to parent in a safe environment, and to maintain a violence free environment for their children when they are released,” says Wayne McKnight, Prison Manager Christchurch Women’s Prison.

In order to manage the new and converted units, 10 new staff have been trained. Community providers will also provide parenting support to mothers in the units, and will play an integral role in assisting the mothers to reintegrate into the community whey they are released.

A prisoner is eligible to apply for a position in a Mothers with Babies Unit if she is pregnant or if she is the mother of a child less than 24 months old, and:

• was the child’s primary caregiver before imprisonment, or is likely to be the child’s caregiver on release; and
• does not have a conviction for sexual or violent offending against children; and
• agrees to undertake mental health and substance abuse screening, if required, to assess for any issues that may affect her ability to take care of her child.
 

Makara Cemetery

Director Mâori Neil Campbell, Corrections Officer Kereopa Wharehinga and iwi appointed carving designer Bryce Manu.Makara Cemetery

Makara Cemetery,near Wellington, has long provided burial grounds for many ethnicities and faiths, but until recently did not have a place set aside for Mâori. 

A special urupâ (burial ground) for Mâori who choose to be buried in Wellington was opened in August by Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, iwi and kaumâtua. It is named Ngâ Iwi o Te Motu Urupâ. 

The urupâ features a carved gateway (tomokanga whakairo) at the entrance which was carved over 12 weeks by three prisoners from the Mâori Focus Unit at Rimutaka Prison.

“The men acquired a lot of knowledge, from how to prepare the wood to the carving techniques and the tikanga behind it,” says carving teacher and Corrections Officer Kereopa Wharehinga. 

“The carvings are something to be proud of, and one day the men will be able to visit Makara and show their children what they’ve done.“

The central figure on the front of the carved gateway represents Ue Poto, guardian of everything that dwells beneath the surface of the land. The central figure on the rear represents Tûpai Whakarongo Wânanga, guardian of bones and residue.

Offenders contribute to Rugby World Cup festivities

Rugby World Cup flags are handed over to the Department of Corrections by Paramount Chief Tumu Te Heu Heu and Ngati Hikairo.A group of prisoners from Tongariro/Rangipo Prison have helped rebuild on the site where the All Blacks’ trademark haka
was created.

The work was done in preparation for an official visit by the Springboks to the Opotaka historical site in September.

Tongariro/Rangipo Prison Manager Dennis Goodin says about 10 prisoners from the Maori Focus Unit had worked most days since May at the site on the shores of Lake Rotoaira, near Taupo.

“They cleared a lot of scrub and helped erect buildings on the site which were built and stained with traditional Maori techniques. Not only did the men give back to the community but they have done something meaningful – something to be proud of.”

“For the men it has been a moving experience and they, and their families, have been welcomed back following their release from prison.”

The site is famous as the place where Ngati Toa chief Te Rauparaha composed the Ka Mate haka.

Springboks coach Peter de Villiers is reported as saying the haka had ‘new meaning’ to him after his visit to the historic site.

Community Probation Services’ community work parties were also involved with the project, ensuring the preparations continued over weekends to meet the tight timeframes while Corrections Inmate Employment supplied truck-loads of manuka for the fencing and provided catering for the workers.

“Many of the men didn’t know too much about this place on their back door so they have learnt a lot about the site, the people and the history. Each of the men involved has received a copy of a souvenir Opotaka booklet as a reminder of their involvement in this project,” says Project Manager Te Ngaehe Wanaka.

The Department and individual prisoners will be formally thanked with a letter of acknowledgement from the Tuwharetoa chief Tumu Te Heu Heu with a presentation to take place at the Te Hikoinga Maori Focus Unit. Two of the men who worked on the project and have since been released from prison have taken their whanau to the site. 

The new buildings will be used as places of teaching – including running Tikanga Maori programmes for local men on community based sentences and orders.

Modernisation: a vision for CPS service delivery

A visual representation of the Community Probation Services' modernisation programme reflects a desire to work more closely with other organisations.Community Probation Services is exploring opportunities to use the latest technology in future service delivery on the frontline. 

CPS has launched a Modernisation Programme designed to build a more effective and responsive service that delivers value for money and makes New Zealand safer. 

Programme Director Helen Hurst says the vision shows probation officers as highly mobile, with secure access to the information they need to work away from the office. 

“Probation officers will be equipped to spend more time out in the community where they can work more closely with offenders and their whanau, and engage more effectively with our partners in the public sector as well as iwi and community stakeholders. We’re exploring technologies that can help ensure offenders meet their obligations, and to maximise our ability to track high-risk offenders.

“Everything we do will relate to the Department’s four priorities; greater public safety, reduced reoffending, better public value and leadership across the public service and community sector.”

Helen says developing a visual representation of the future has been a powerful exercise for everyone involved – from senior management to frontline staff.

“We started by describing what modern means for us and thinking about how that could enhance the way we work. The vision also reflects our desire to work more closely with other organisations to make New Zealand safer.

“At the centre of our image is a Corrections hub – a new type of presence in our communities serving as a base for our staff as well as other stakeholders. We’d like hubs to be a space for other service providers and agencies who work with the same people we work with.”

As part of the Department’s Expenditure Review, the Modernisation programme will seek efficiency gains across the organisation by ensuring staff time and resources are spent where they have the greatest effect.

Capitalising on artistic talents

An offender on community work is creating this masterpiece mural for the town of Greymouth.An offender on community work who is a talented artist and tattooist is creating a meaningful mural for the town of Greymouth.

Following discussions with the Mayor, it has been agreed that the mural will have a mining theme, but without a direct link to the Pike River disaster. 

In a prime spot, opposite the Greymouth Railway Station and Tranz Alpine depot, the entire concrete wall will be transformed by Christmas.

Senior Community Work Supervisor Troy Carson says the offender really wanted to do something special for the town. “What he is creating is mindblowingly beautiful.” Having completed 15 drafts, the offender has now firmed-up his plan, showing miners in action, their machinery and equipment.


Kindling keeps partnership warm
A couple of classes of Grey Main Primary School children are off to the Marlborough Sounds for a week’s school camp in the new year, thanks to their fundraising efforts and a partnership with Corrections.

Offenders on community work sentences in Greymouth chopped and boxed kindling over a three-month period; the wood having been kindly donated by local firm Aratuna Freighters.

The year seven and eight school children then went door-knocking to sell the boxes of kindling for $5 each. They sold 750 boxes, the proceeds of which will go to fund their school camp. Many of the children would have missed out were it not for the fundraiser.

Greymouth CPS Service Manager Kelly Hill says other fundraising initiatives have not been as successful. “When the children sold chocolate to raise funds for camp, they would eat it, lose it or sell it to friends cheap and in some cases it cost the parents more money!”

The Corrections/school partnership has been going for a couple of years and not only do the children benefit, but so do locals desperate to kick-start their fires. 

Kelly says the offenders appreciate the chance to help. “All of them know at least one child who goes to the school, as ours is quite a small community – so they’re very keen to pitch in and help.”

Book review: Effective Interventions with Offenders: Lessons learned

 Edited by Ken McMaster & David Riley. Christchurch, NZ: Hall McMaster & Associated, 2011. 

Reviewed by Jayson Ware, Executive Director, Offender Services & Programs, Corrective Services New South Wales, Australia.

It is no secret that New Zealand is considered to be one of the world’s leaders in the rehabilitation of offenders. For this reason when I was told of a newly published book written by respected staff who work for, or in partnership with, the New Zealand Department of Corrections, I knew that this would be an invaluable read. Sure enough, it was clear that all of the contributors are practitioners who know their science.

This book represents both a state-of-the-art review of what we know about offender rehabilitation and equally importantly an informed commentary on how we should use what we know to ensure that we protect the public and enhance the wellness and wellbeing of those that we treat. 

There are 11 chapters – each of which has very important messages that should be read, understood, and disseminated to all of us who work with offenders. At risk of doing the book a disservice I will outline only a few of these messages.

Within his chapter Riley powerfully outlines the evidence for rehabilitation within corrections. The take home message is simply that rehabilitation programmes work. More specifically Wales and Tiller alert us to the all important issue of treatment integrity whilst convincingly pointing out that correctional rehabilitation programmes that adhere to certain principles can be more effective than many physical interventions that we would never query – such as taking aspirin to reduce the risk of heart attack. McMaster and Wells outline the key components of rehabilitation programme design and provide an excellent commentary on the complexities and challenges in developing the right programme for the right people. Frost draws our attention to the often forgotten notion that rehabilitation programmes are contextual and must occur in a way that is meaningful to the offender and relevant to his real life concerns. Baker, King, and then Moth and Evans outline the issues for rehabilitative programmes about family violence.

Tamatea and Brown also remind us of the importance of incorporating cultural factors into our rehabilitative efforts. This cannot be overstated given the over-representation of indigenous people within all of our correctional jurisdictions.

Dark and McMaster then explore the competencies that facilitators of all of these programmes require and how these are to be provided. Farmer and Trainor then provide an excellent chapter which highlights the importance of good quality supervision for those who provide rehabilitation programmes. Finally, from a different perspective and in what is a very useful addition to the book, Gledhill examines the purposes of detention and poses the question of whether or not treatment is an offender’s legal right or entitlement?

All in all this certainly is an impressive book written by individuals with considerable insight into the complexities of offender rehabilitation. I highly recommend that this book becomes essential reading for all practitioners within this field.

To buy Effective Interventions with Offenders – Lessons Learned, visit the on-line bookshop at www.hma.co.nz

Minister's column

It is difficult to believe that three years have passed since I became the Minister of Corrections, but what an amazing tMinister of Corrections Judith Collinshree years it has been.

With Christmas just around the corner, it seems like a good time to stop and reflect on what has been achieved.

Corrections has transformed itself over the last three years. There have been unprecedented improvements in almost every performance indicator. Escapes and drug use in prisons are at all-time lows while CPS’ compliance with its mandatory standards are at an all time high.

A new approach to rehabilitation has been implemented that sees specialised case managers working one-on-one with prisoners throughout their sentence to reduce their risk of re-offending.

The safety of our prisons has been improved through the successful implementation of a smoking ban and we have invested in new safety equipment for our frontline corrections officers to better protect them when they are working in high risk situations.

But the last three years have also been marked with tragedy.

I can tell you that the worst news that you can receive as Minister is to learn that a staff member has been seriously injured or killed. The tragic death of Jason Palmer last year reminds us just how dangerous it can be working on the frontline with offenders.

The thing that I have most enjoyed in the last three years has been getting out of the Beehive and into our prisons and probation centres to see our frontline men and women getting on with the job.

Every day these staff deal with the most dangerous and threatening individuals in our society, yet they never lose faith that they can make a difference in an offender’s life.

The work that has been done over the last three years will ensure that staff have the tools and resources available to them to make even further improvements in the management of offenders.

Thank you to the Corrections staff who have taken the time to stop and talk to me about their job, for showing me around their sites and explaining both the joys and the challenges of their role.

But most of all, on behalf of New Zealand, thank you to all the staff whose concerted effort and contribution have made the department better, stronger and more effective over the last three years.


Judith Collins
Minister of Corrections
 

Busted!

Quite a haul: The two men who had these items in their vehicle were arrested.Corrections dog handlers have used an auction yard in Hamilton to train their dogs for the last three years, setting up vehicles with training aids that smell like illegal drugs for the dogs to find.

However, during a recent exercise all the dogs indicated on a vehicle that hadn’t been set up for the training exercise. This led to a search by the handlers who discovered a substantial amount of drug paraphernalia, residual methamphetamine and ammunition.

“The staff at the auction yard were as surprised as we were and contacted Police,” says Service Support Manager Scott Carse. “The auction yard has welcomed us in to train our dogs and we are very glad we could help them by sniffing out these unwanted extras in one of their cars.”

A check point at Rimutaka Prison in September revealed the biggest find this year. A vehicle with two male occupants was targeted and stopped. Staff found a significant amount of money, cannabis oil/leaf, scales, various knives, tablets, smoking implements and other items of contraband. The Police arrested the pair and charged them with possession of cannabis for supply and possession of a Class B drug for supply.

Know something about a crime but want to remain anonymous? Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

Prisoners grow thousands of plants for Taranaki steam-sides

Prison-grown plants are used in riparian plantings like this one beside a Taranaki stream. Photo courtesy of Rob Tucker.Prisoners in the nurseries at Whanganui and New Plymouth Prisons are hard at work potting 86,000 plants for Taranaki Regional Council.

Corrections recently won a percentage of a large contract with the Council to grow native plants for its riverside, or riparian, planting programme.

The long-running programme assists landowners, mostly farmers, to fence and plant alongside their streams, thus helping to protect water quality and enhance the stream habitat. Corrections has been growing plants for the programme since 1996, supplying well over 500,000 plants over this time.

The prisoners are currently potting toe-toe, flax, cabbage trees, totara, pohutukawa and kowhai, among others.

A requirement of the contract is that the plants must be eco-sourced, meaning that the seed or cutting the plants are grown from must be collected from the area.

Plants grown from eco-sourced seed may have a greater chance of survival as they are already adapted to the locality. The practice also encourages diversity as varieties differ slightly from place to place.

Corrections Inmate Employment (CIE) Instructor Sheryl Clyma from New Plymouth Prison takes groups of carefully selected and supervised minimum security prisoners out to collect seed in summer and autumn.

“Prisoners then process and sow the seeds. They care for the seedlings and help despatch the young plants to planting contractors,” says Sheryl.

Like many of her CIE instructor colleagues in different prison industries around the country, Sheryl has a Level 5 Certificate in Adult Education, and teaches embedded literacy and numeracy skills at the same time as she teaches her specialist area.

Taranaki Regional Council’s Land Services Manager Don Shearman says the plants supplied by Corrections are of good quality and arrive on time.

“We have a very good working relationship with Corrections. In particular, Sheryl has always been very flexible about fitting in with our needs, holding plants for us if necessary,” he says.

Around forty prisoners in total work at the Whanganui and New Plymouth Prison nurseries. The practical work they do there counts towards their Level 2 National Certificates in Horticulture, a qualification that may give them a better chance of getting a job on release. In the 12 months to June 2011, 23 National Certificates in Horticulture were awarded to prisoners working in the New Plymouth and Whanganui Prison Nurseries.