Prisoners to repair homes

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 05:00 14/06/2013

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Red-zoned homes will be repaired at Rolleston Prison as soon as August after the launch of two $4 million construction yards.

Corrections Department has signed an agreement with Housing New Zealand (HNZ) for prisoners to refurbish about 30 state-owned houses a year for five years.

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley yesterday started the work on the yards at Rolleston Prison, in what is now an empty paddock.

The first red-zoned houses are likely to arrive at the completed yards in August, and the first refurbished house will leave the prison before the end of the year.

Tolley said the scheme would help prisoners to adjust to life outside, with the skills they learnt boosting their employment opportunities.

"If we can help turn their lives around whilst they are in prison, give them a better chance of employment on their release, then there is a much greater chance they will not reoffend or create more victims when they are set free.

"It's always difficult to get a job when you have a prison record or a court record, but this gives them a bit extra on their side."

The scheme to upskill offenders is part of Corrections' plan to reduce reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017.

Tolley said the project was likely to work out cost-neutral. HNZ would pay about $20,000 for each completed house, but Corrections must build and maintain the yards and pay for equipment and trades tutors.

HNZ has already earmarked 42 houses to be fixed under the scheme.

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