Agree­ment means jobs for of­fend­ers

South Waikato News - - Conversations - FRANCES FER­GU­SON

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.

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