Has she received any progress reports on the implementation of the Government’s Prisoner Skills and Employment Strategy?
The goal of the Prisoner Skills and Employment Strategy, launched by this Government in 2009, was to increase the number of prisoners engaged in work training and skills development by 1,000 over 3 years. We have achieved this goal a full year ahead of schedule. After 2 years of this strategy 1,028 additional prisoners are engaged in skill gaining and employment. This achievement means that there are now record numbers of prisoners engaged in employment and education. We have also seen much better Māori participation rates across the board, with more Māori prisoners undertaking employment and educational activities and achieving New Zealand Qualifications Authority credits. Hundreds more prisoners are receiving literacy and numeracy training as part of other employment and training activities. There has been a 46 percent increase in credits achieved under the New Zealand Qualifications Authority framework and a 44 percent increase in the number of national certificates achieved—extremely good results.
Has the Minister been advised of the results of any research on the impact that employment training in prisons has on the rate of recidivism?
Yes. Recent research carried out by the Department of Corrections shows that prisoner employment is resulting in reduced rates of reoffending. The research found that the rate of reconviction within 12 months of a prisoner’s release reduced by 8 percent for those who took part in inmate employment and by 16.7 percent for those who participated in the Release to Work programme. Over the next year the Department of Corrections will double the number of prisoners participating in the Release to Work programme and deliver a range of trade training opportunities to prepare prisoners for the rebuilding of Christchurch. It will also work closely with other agencies and employers to find stable employment for prisoners on their release.