Release to work

The release to work programme allows minimum security prisoners who are assessed as suitable to engage in paid employment in the community, in order to help them gain employment on release. Prisoners are paid market wages.

The prisoners participating in the release to work programme:

  • are nearing release
  • have proven they can be trusted
  • have shown themselves to be highly motivated
  • are eager to work.

The release to work programme is an important stepping stone in the rehabilitation of a prisoner and a good avenue towards sustainable employment on release. It gives prisoners real work experience, employment skills and job stability, making it easier for them to find work on release - which makes it less likely they’ll re-offend. 

A release to work placement gives an employer the opportunity to access a pool of skilled workers and employ someone on a fixed term basis. It also offers them the satisfaction of knowing they have made a real difference to somebody by giving them a second chance.

Employer testimonials

“Brinks South Island is supportive of the release to work programme. There are some great opportunities in being involved. There are many success stories; the most recent one was recruiting a good team leader on her release. It is also gratifying to assist in giving some of these inmates a good start to get back on their feet on their entry back into our communities. We have been involved with Release to Work for a number of years and will continue to support this programme.” 

Alan Martin
Brinks Chicken South Island

"We were suitably impressed by our experience with the Release to Work programme. Our worker was hardworking, respectful and highly productive, and on release we offered him a full-time position with our company. We intend using this scheme again if a worker of the same calibre can be made available."

Roger Bolam
Business Manager, Twin Lakes Sheetmetals


Prisoners on the programme are regularly monitored at their places of employment by Corrections work brokers. Prisoners may also be subject to GPS monitoring.

Corrections maintains regular contact with the employer to ensure conditions are being complied with.

The employer is responsible for supervising the prisoner while they are working.


Potential employers must meet certain criteria to be considered for a release to work placement.

Criminal history checks are conducted on employers before a prisoner is placed in their employment. The prisoner’s history along with other factors are also taken into account to ensure that they are being placed in an appropriate workplace.

Briefings and on-going support for employers and their staff are provided before and during a release to work placement.


Prisoners on the release to work programme receive market wages.

However they are required to pay:

  • board
  • any outstanding fines or court imposed reparation to victims
  • child maintenance
  • their own travel costs to and from work
  • for any purchase of tools or clothing required for employment.

Once all the expenses are removed from their earnings, the balance is placed into a savings trust account to assist with their transition back into the community on their release.

What if a prisoner breaks the rules?

If a prisoner breaks the rules, they can be charged with an internal misconduct under the Corrections Act 2004 and an appropriate sanction will be imposed. If the breach is serious, for example an attempt to escape, Police may charge the prisoner.