29 Nov 2016

Hundreds of Chch prisoners to get extra govt support

6:16 pm on 29 November 2016

Hundreds of Christchurch prisoners will receive education, financial advice and housing support as part of the government's offender employment programme.

The second stage of the $15.3 million initiative was launched today, and aimed to help offenders find and stay in employment and reduce reoffending over the next three years.

The Salvation Army and Workwise will work with the 600 offenders at Rolleston, Christchurch Men's and Christchurch Women's prisons from 10 weeks before their release, until 12 months afterwards.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said the programme also reduced the burden on the benefit system and on taxpayers.

"Supporting prisoners into employment allows them and their families to lead successful lives rather than returning to crime.

"Eighty percent of offenders are still on a benefit 12 months after they leave prison, so it makes sense to give them the help they need," she said.

The first stage of the programme, delivered by Work and Income case managers and professionals, got under way last month at seven prisons - in Northland, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu, Rimutaka, Arohata, Auckland Men's, and Auckland Women's prisons.

The offender employment scheme is part of a $111.5m package announced in Budget 2016.