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ACT wants to reward prisoners for courses

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/02/2017

Prisoners should be able to earn a reduction in their sentence by successfully completing literacy, numeracy and driving courses, says ACT leader David Seymour.

He announced the rewarding self-improvement in prison policy at the party's conference on Saturday.

He says the cost of crime and the prison system is running away.

This is largely due to a reoffending blowout which sees 48 per cent of prisoners return within four years.

"A large chunk of the prison population simply lacks the skills to lead normal, productive lives," he says.

As many as 70 per cent of prisoners lack the functional literacy required to read a tenancy agreement, an employment contract, or even the road code.

"It's no wonder they return to crime after leaving prison," he says.

Penalties should be tough on repeat offenders. But at the same time, prisoners need positive incentives to become productive, law-abiding citizens after their time in prison.

The policy of earning a reduction to a sentence for passing courses wouldn't apply to the worst violent or sexual offenders.

And it wouldn't help white-collar criminals study for diplomas or degrees.

Prisoners who are already literate, numerate, and licensed to drive could instead be eligible for incentives if they act as mentors to other prisoners, helping them earn qualifications.

ACT also reiterated its policy of three strikes for burglary, meaning anyone convicted of a third burglary will be sentenced to three years in prison.

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