Topic: Education

SkyCity Breakers helping prepare prisoners for release

By Mānia Clarke
  • Auckland

The SkyCity Breakers are working together with an Auckland prison to develop inmates' skills and reduce reoffending. Over half of those incarcerated are Māori.

This first group of prison graduates hope the skills they've learnt on the basketball court will equip them in life on release.

Graduate says, “I've learnt that it's good to get out of your comfort zone and do new things.  And it's important and essential to your mental and physical well-being to stay active.”

Ten inmates from Kohuora Auckland South Corrections Facility took part in the pilot Breakers Academy programme and received Recreation and Sports Level 2 NZQA and First Aid qualifications.

Kohuora Director, Mike Inglis says, “The whole programme is based on self-respect, the whole programme is based on self-esteem, confidence  but we also link that to literacy and numeracy, we also link that into certification for the men that are in the programme, as well as reaching out through sport to engage the men in a more positive outlook.”

Over half of male prisoners are Māori.  Within two years of release, 41.3 percent of released prisoners reoffend, however only 30.5 percent of reoffenders are non-Māori.

Last year the 24-week programme was established, with inmates received weekly training by Breakers' community coaches and some Sky City Breaker players.

Breakers community coach, Hayden Allen says, “It was an opportunity to give back to the community where they needed some support.  Everyone makes mistakes in their life it's just how they were directed by those mistakes and how they get back on their feet.”

The second Breakers Academy programme will start in June, with a focus on helping offenders with literacy and numeracy needs.