Movies for youth in jail aimed at literacy boost

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 22/06/2013

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Young prisoners across New Zealand are going to be able to watch movies while behind bars, but strictly in the name of education.

Inmates at the Christchurch Men's Prison Youth Unit are already watching films such as True Grit and The Last of the Mohicans as part of an audio-visual literacy course started 18 months ago - and soon North Island prisoners will enjoy the same privilege.

The only catch is that the film must be based on a novel.

Corrections says the results of the Audio-Visual Achievement in Literacy, Language and Learning (AVAILLL) have been "promising enough" to roll it out at youth units at Rimutaka, Hawke's Bay and Waikeria prisons.

The AVAILLL course is aimed at improving the reading, writing and comprehension of prisoners aged 15 to 20 who were otherwise unlikely to read books.

Corrections Department policy forbids prisoners from owning individual DVD players and inmates are only able to watch a DVD if it is part of rehabilitation.

About 400 of New Zealand prisoners are aged 15 to 19.

Christchurch Men's Prison manager John Roper said all the movies used on the programme were based on novels.

They included The Blind Side, Freedom Riders, The Last of the Mohicans, Rabbit Proof Fence, True Grit, The Boy in Striped Pyjamas and Whale Rider.

The films were played with subtitles so prisoners could read and watch the film at the same time.

It was also followed by activities to help reading, comprehension and writing skills.

The latest Corrections News magazine said the success of the programme was still being evaluated, but the results of the Christchurch course were "promising enough" to roll it out elsewhere.

A Christchurch tutor was quoted saying those who had done the course "generally use the library more afterwards".

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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