'Don't hold their past against them' - Prisoner work scheme helping reduce re-offending

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1 NEWS

The Corrections Department is urging employers considering hiring ex-prisoners not to hold their past against them.

The department wants to get more businesses on board with its "release to work" scheme for prisoners.
Source: 1 NEWS

Corrections wants to get more businesses on board with its "release to work" scheme in a bid to reduce reoffending rates. 

One-hundred-and-forty employers participate in the scheme, offering 1300 full time jobs to ex-prisoners.

"I think people have to get over the fact that people have been in prison and look at them as people," Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith told 1 NEWS.

Tumu Timbers is part of the release to work scheme and James Truman of the company says the released prisoners are among the best workers.

"They are some of the most reliable staff you'll ever get because they would rather come to work for the day than spend the day in prison," Mr Truman said. 

'Sonny' used to be in and out of prison, but he hasn't reoffended since 2014, and credits his job with Tumu Timbers for cutting the habit. 

"I enjoy the challenge especially the type of work I'm doing," he said.

"The routine helps. Before when I was not doing things right, usually when they started going wrong I used to jump out of routine."

Both major political parties believe getting offenders into work is crucial to reducing reoffending.

National is promising early release to some prisoners who complete rehabilitation programmes, while Labour wants to utilise more alternatives to prison, reducing the muster by 30 per cent within 15 years.

Ray Smith says it's really hard to stop people who have got into a cycle of offending.

"But we're still chasing the goal. And it may take five or 10 years to get to where we want to get to, but it's the right thing to do," the Corrections chief said.

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