Agreement means jobs for offenders
A minimum of ten jobs every year will be available for prisoners at Waikeria Prison after a new agreement was signed.
The Department of Corrections central region signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sunfruit Orchards.
The initiative will provide work placements for prisoners involved in the Release to Work programme. This will also include offenders serving community sentences.
Sunfruit Orchards managing director John Altham said the company’s involvement with Corrections as a way to give back to the local community,
‘‘Sunfruit is a family company and we try to participate in our community as much as we can with an aim to help offenders rehabilitate into our communities as contributors.
‘‘The employment of offenders has been a mutually beneficial programme for both the offender and Sunfruit.’’
He said they have employed a number of Release to Work placements who now work full time in the orchards.
‘‘We applaud Corrections far sighted view in enabling this programme to work and we also appreciate Corrections support in providing work ready candidates for us.’’
Prison Director Kevin Smith said research showed employment can reduce the risk of reoffending.
‘‘We need progressive employers like Sunfruit Orchards which are willing to give people a second chance.
‘‘We are working very hard to reduce re-offending and it’s not something we can do alone. In order for us to create safer communities where people are able to turn their lives around and make a positive contribution,’’ Smith said.
Work programmes aim to ensure prisoners and offenders are ‘‘work ready.’’
Smith said the value of the programme extends to helping the whanau and their community.
‘‘When you give someone a job you’re giving them that sense of worth, pride and stability. You’re making it that much easier for them to make good decisions and find the support they might need.’’
Sunfruit Orchards managing director John Altham and Waikeria prison director Kevin Smith shake on a deal that will provide more jobs for offenders when they are released.