Prison not ‘planned for’
Keeping track of your finances can be tough at the best of times, but it’s even harder when you’re in jail.
There’s been a lot of changes in the world while Susan, not her real name, has been behind the bars of Arohata Prison.
‘‘The scams are better and even the look of the money has changed.’’
She was one of 44 women who took part in a financial literacy course at Arohata in Tawa last week.
The women learned about clearing bad credit, how to open a bank account, prioritising needs and wants and how to spot a scam.
Susan said it was easy for money problems to get worse while you were in jail and the problems did not go away when you were released.
‘‘The bills keep coming and the debts don’t go away and you’re not always prepared to come to prison.
‘‘Prison is not always something you plan for.’’
Susan said she would be given $300 when she was released and had two forms of identification, one being the driver licence she obtained in prison.
‘‘I’m also getting a credit check done while I’m here so I know what’s waiting for me outside.’’
Brenda Allen-Browne from BNZ said it was important for the women to learn to take control of their own money.
‘‘They need to know how to open an account for themselves, not just put money into a partner’s account.’’
Brown warned against ‘second and third tier money lenders’ and said one of the most important things was to read the fine print.
‘‘When you’re broke and feeling vulnerable it’s easy to be scammed. If it sounds too good to be true it usually is.’’
Operational support movements and security manager Taunu Taepa said prison was often the first opportunity for some of the women to sit and think about their lives.
‘‘Prison can give them some head space to make plans and talk to their case managers about getting help.
‘‘They need to open up, swallow their pride and get over the stigma of embarrassment so we can help them take control.’’
He said he had worked in men and women’s prisons and the difference was obvious.
‘‘At men’s prisons you see the women coming to visit and making sure the men have everything they need while they’re inside, but at women’s prisons you don’t see any of that.
‘‘These women need to discover ways to be independent... we don’t want to see them back here.’’
Arohata inmates compare their ‘needs and wants’ during a financial literacy course at the prison.