Putting time in prison to good use

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 13:49 13/01/2014
Rolleston prison
Supplied

FINISHED PRODUCT: The first home to be refurbished at Rolleston Prison has been completed.

Rolleston prison
Iain McGregor
REPAIR WORK: Former peacekeeper John Bryant runs the construction yards at Rolleston Prison.
Rolleston prison
Iain McGregor
NEW SKILLS: Rolleston prisoners are refurbishing Housing New Zealand homes damaged in Canterbury's earthquakes.

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Rolleston prisoners have finished refurbishing an earthquake-damaged red zone house, which will now be returned to Housing New Zealand.

It is one of 16 red zone houses being refurbished at Rolleston Prison's construction yard.

Prison manager Mike Howson said the prisoners' commitment to learning had been impressive.

''It's not unusual for instructors and prison officers to have to convince offenders to stop work and take a break.''

John Bryant, timber and construction activity manager, said it was ''highly rewarding'' for offenders to see their work finished and ready to provide a new start for a family.

"Through the yard, prisoners are able to contribute to the community in a meaningful way while gaining highly employable trade skills,'' Bryant said.

About 40 prisoners and 18 offenders on community sentences work in the prison's two yards each day.

By mid-year, the programme is expected to provide employment and training for 60 prisoners and 30 offenders on community sentences.

The finished house has been reclad, rewired and replumbed and has insulation and a new bathroom and kitchen.
Housing New Zealand has taken back the keys to the house and will transport it to the new site.

All work in the prison yards is supervised by qualified instructors and other Corrections staff.

So far through the programme 83 prisoners have gained unit standards in construction health and safety and are working toward trade qualifications, Bryant said.

The Department of Corrections has committed to fixing up a minimum of 30 state houses each year for the next five years.

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