From our Minister

There’s no doubt these are trying times for Corrections staff. There has been a bit of media coverage recently about the growing prison population and the pressure this is putting on our people. I just want to take this opportunity to thank them for the work they do, in what can be an increasingly difficult environment.

The Government is looking at ways across the justice sector to reduce the muster and the impact on staff.

In my ongoing travels around prisons and other Corrections sites, I’m heartened by their efforts and dedication to making a difference in offenders’ lives.

For example, in a recent visit to Rolleston I was really impressed with the work being done to restore quake-damaged homes. There was superb quality and workmanship on display and those skills will be in demand as we ramp up the KiwiBuild programme.

I was similarly impressed by the prison’s orchards, gardens and nurseries. The nursery, where around 160,000 trees are propagated each year, was very professional. The Government is committed to planting a billion trees in 10 years, to create good jobs for our regions and to help reduce our CO2 emissions. I am talking to my colleague Forestry Minister Shane Jones about how Corrections can help, and I want to see how training for prisoners can translate into jobs on release.

We all know that equipping prisoners with useful skills is a big part of their reintegration back into the community. It means they can find jobs, which is important to building their self-esteem and living crime-free.

It’s the staff at Corrections who make all this trades training possible. On my recent travels to Rolleston, Invercargill, Otago Corrections Facility, Christchurch Women’s and Christchurch Men’s, the efforts they go to for prisoners was clear.

Things can get tense in the prison environment, but I saw staff taking the time to build good interpersonal relationships. This was truly noticeable in Christchurch Men’s Youth Unit, where the prisoners had been encouraged to run a marathon. Having that encouragement and support is crucial if we are going to turn around the lives of our young men and women.

Hon. Kelvin Davis

Minister of Corrections