Inmate employment is a practice that is not new in either New Zealand or overseas prisons. Work for offenders has been in place in one form or another for many years.
International papers have been written on inmate employment and we have used global research in preparing our own policy. There are also international conventions mandating employment for inmates because of its positive benefits.
Training inmates to return to the workforce is not just about learning skills. It also involves understanding the work ethic and developing a positive self-awareness and the ability to relate effectively to others.
More than 50 percent of offenders in our institutions have never had regular employment. Teaching inmates new skills and giving them the opportunity to learn about self-management and responsibility may then enhance their work opportunities upon release thus contributing to reducing their risk of reoffending.
Inmate employment is focused on the rehabilitation of offenders. We hope that public endorsement of this policy and its implementation will give the projects and programmes already underway the positive reinforcement they require for success. We are also open to, and look to encourage, private sector business people working in partnership with us to expand the amount of employment available to inmates including on their release back into the community.