Editorial: Prisoner rehab worth celebrating

By Linda Hall

1 comment

I'm going to look on the bright side of a recent Prison Performance Table which said Hawke's Bay Regional Prison was among three prisons "needing improvement".

The same report also said the prison's rehabilitation performance was "exceptional".

That is something I think we all need to celebrate. I'm all for "do the crime, pay the time" and not easy time, either. However, if inmates reoffend upon release, what is the point of the time behind bars?

If, on the other hand, they come out with a different outlook on life, perhaps some new skills, never to reoffend - well, I say hallelujah. Taxpayers aren't paying over and over, there are fewer victims and someone is contributing to our community instead of taking away from it.

Hawke's Bay Regional Prison manager George Massingham says it has been a journey: "We have increased our ability to offer drug and alcohol rehabilitation, both of which are the root causes of people committing crime. Also our programme Second Chance Dogs has been a huge success."

Dogs are taken from the pound into the care of prisoners, who train them for six weeks before they are put up for adoption.

"Being connected to an animal can change behaviour. To get an animal to trust you, first you have to change your own behaviour. For many it is the first time they have encountered unconditional love."

Another programme that has been successful is the Howard League, a reading programme.

"The majority of prisoners have never had a book read to them or read to their children. They have had to grow up fast. They can't pass on what they haven't learnt. It is often learning about the simple things in life that make the difference."

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for tougher sentences but I think we should be celebrating the fact that there will be fewer criminals on our streets because of the hard work at the coal face. So keep it up, Hawke's Bay Regional Prison.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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