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.

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