Parliament resumes today, and this week will be all about the build-up to Thursday afternoon's Budget.
Budgets aren't what they used to be. We can recall the days of sitting around the radio and later the television at night when the Finance Minister delivered the Budget. There was never any forewarning of what was to come, and our Dear Departed Dad, being of Scottish heritage would generally then go and fill the car with petrol before midnight to avoid the rise in excise tax.
Those days are long gone. Whilst the actual numbers are kept a secret, most Budget-related policies are announced in advance of Budget Day, and that's a good move. And this morning we want to focus on a pre-Budget announcement from Corrections Minister Anne Tolley; the Beehive website reports:
Budget 2012 will contribute to a 25 per cent reduction in reoffending by 2017, and 18,500 fewer victims of crime every year from 2017, Corrections Minister Anne Tolley and Associate Corrections Minister Dr Pita Sharples say.The moves are part of the Prime Minister’s expectations for a more efficient and results-driven public service.A boost in alcohol and drug treatment, alongside increased education, skills training and employment programmes for prisoners, including remand prisoners, will lead to safer communities and better value for money for taxpayers.From 2017, there will also be 600 fewer prisoners in jail than in 2011, and 4,000 fewer community offenders.“It’s time to get serious about breaking this vicious cycle of prison and reoffending,” Mrs Tolley says.“Offenders need to be made accountable for their crimes. But while they are in prison and upon their release, we must do more to rehabilitate, and then reintegrate, if they are to avoid a return to crime.”
We won't go into the line-by-line detail of this announcement; you can read that in Ms Tolley's announcement. But it will, in our ever-humble opinion, money well spent.
As we have mentioned in the past, we were involved in prison ministry for several years. And one of the big challenges that inmates face is having something productive to do once they get out. It's all too easy, especially if they are unemployed to drift back to the gangs, the drugs, the booze and the petty crime, which quickly escalates.
Many employers are reluctant to take on former inmates, and you can't blame them for that. But here surely is a situation tailor-made for the 90-day work trial; an ex-inmate has three months to prove him/herself to the employer, and an incentive to become a productive member of that employer's workplace.