22 May 2012

Howard League backs reform plan

3:27 pm on 22 May 2012

The Howard League for Penal Reform is backing the Government's plan to curb reoffending by prisoners on their release.

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley announced on Monday that $65 million in Thursday's Budget will be spent over four years to reduce reoffending 25% by 2017.

The money will go towards alcohol and drug treatment, increased education, skills training and employment programmes for prisoners.

Oppostion parties, a drug and alcohol counsellor and the Corrections Association are skeptical about whether a 25% reduction can be achieved.

But Howard League chief executive Mike Williams says international research shows such programmes work.

The Government says the target is bold but achievable.

The Corrections Department says it can achieve a 25% reduction in prisoner reoffending by 2017.

Chief executive Ray Smith says currently about 27% of prisoners reoffend when released and are back in prison within one year.

He wants this number to reduce to about 20% and says providing more participation in programmes for prisoners will lessen the likelihood of reoffending.

Mr Smith says prisoners are already benefit from such programmes.

Jobs needed first - NZ First

New Zealand First says the Government needs to create jobs for prisoners if it wants to reduce reoffending.

Corrections spokesperson Asenati Lole-Taylor says there must be jobs for prisoners when they are released.

But Labour says jobs are scarce in the current economic climate, so finding work for ex-inmates is going to be difficult.

The Green Party says the announcement is far too modest. It says a good signal from the minister would have been that she is abandoning the $900 million to be spent building a new prison at Wiri.