The Dom Post editorial:
A good prison system should have three functions. It should keep the public safe from dangerous criminals, punish those who have seriously or repeatedly broken the law and rehabilitate offenders.
By and large, New Zealand’s penal system does the first two reasonably well. When it comes to the third, it has been an abject failure. …
But while the prison system is good at keeping inmates locked up – escapes are rare – it is not so good at preparing them to reintegrate back into society once they are released. The recidivism rate among former inmates is alarmingly high. Nearly 40 per cent of those freed from jail each year are back inside within 24 months of their release. …
That is why the Government’s to investigate the merits of “working prisons” should have the support of every party in Parliament.
Under the scheme, every inmate at Tongariro and Auckland Women’s prisons will be engaged in some type of work or rehabilitation activity for 40 hours a week. The scheme is already running at Christchurch’s Rolleston Prison, which has a contract with Housing New Zealand to refurbish earthquake-damaged properties.
Provided the expansion is carefully planned to ensure jobs are not taken away from workers in the community, it could have a significant effect. According to the Government’s figures, reoffending rates for inmates on Release to Work programmes are 16 per cent lower than for those who are not, and prisoners who undertake work in jails per cent lower.
Yet the Herald said the scheme will do more harm than good!