Employers encouraged to hire offenders

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Corrections is ramping up its efforts around the country to get employers to hire offenders, giving them a second chance at life through its release to work scheme.

Around 100 businesses gathered in Napier at an employer breakfast to offer their support to the scheme, just like other employer functions held in Wellington, Hamilton and Christchurch.

"We've got about 140 people that are on board right now and they've signed up an agreement with Corrections to provide job opportunities for up to 1300 people so we're really excited about the fact that so many people are really prepared to give prisoners a go," says Chief Executive of Corrections Ray Smith.

With 10,000 men and women in prison, it's an opportunity that helps to fill a labour shortage for companies like Thornhill Horticultural Contracting Ltd.

"We find it really hard to find experienced locals to fill our gaps so the corrections scheme was a real saviour to us by supplying experience and also the people with the right attitude to learn the process of grape pruning," says Thornhill manager Hamish Brock.

It's given former inmates like Dan who has racked up more than 20 offences beginning in the late 80s another chance at leading a responsible life.

"I was in prison for seven months that was for violence having a second chance has been really good it's kept me out of trouble," says Dan.

"We're tremendously proud of Danny right through the system he's been with us for over five years now started with us on the scheme, once released we proved himself on the scheme of his skill-set and his attitude to work, that he was offered a full time job on his release," says Brock.

Work placements cover a wide range of industries like construction, horticulture, hospitality and agriculture.