All of New Zealand's state-run jails will be made into "working prisons" by 2017 if National is re-elected, Corrections Minister Anne Tolley announced this afternoon.

Mrs Tolley also unveiled plans to introduce drug addiction treatment for ex-prisoners during a visit to Wiri Prison in South Auckland with Prime Minister John Key.

National signalled an increase in working prisons early last year, and confirmed today that the model would be expanded from three prisons to all 16 public prisons within four years.

Inmates would have structured 40-hour weeks which included work experience, skills training, education and drug and alcohol counselling or other rehabilitation programmes.


"The vast majority of prisoners don't want to be sitting around in their cells doing nothing," Mrs Tolley said.

"The working prisons model gives them the opportunity to learn good habits and take responsibility for their lives. And after a decent day's work they are also more manageable for prison staff."

Rolleston Prison was the first institution to become a working prison in response to the demand for labour for the rebuild of Christchurch. North Island prisons Tongariro-Rangipo and Auckland Women's Correctional Facility have also become working prisons.

The minister said the policy would be funded by reprioritising resources from other areas, but did not go into any detail about which sectors could be affected.

Prisoners were not paid for their work, which prompted criticism from some groups who felt that the model undermined the private sector by creating a cheap labour force.

In the second part of National's Corrections policy, Mrs Tolley revealed plans to create a specialist addiction treatment programme for paroled offenders.

The $6 million programme, which was designed to cut reoffending, would allow continuity of treatment for inmates who received drug and alcohol treatment behind bars.

"We don't want offenders returning to their old ways and creating more victims when they are released," Mrs Tolley said.


The programme would initially be available to 1000 ex-prisoners a year.