Sentenced to a Job Program “successful beyond expectations” and will be expanded

Prisoners have been sent to work “in real jobs, for real money” as part of the Sentenced to a Job Program, first reported in the Alice Springs News Online on December 18, 2012.

The trial program is designed to get people job ready, and into jobs before they leave prison. It has seen 30 people released from custody daily to work in various jobs from a white collar role to unskilled positions.

The program is only available for prisoners who have been classified low security. Sex offenders are not eligible.

Minister for Correctional Services John Elferink (pictured) said the trial program has been successful beyond expectations and will be expanded.

“Businesses have been very happy with the prisoners they have been employing. In fact, one prisoner has completed his sentence, been released and continues to work in that job. The business has now employed a second prisoner with the first acting as a mentor.

“These are real jobs that need to be filled; this program is not about creating token jobs for people. This program links the prison system with businesses that need workers and benefits both parties. The cost to the taxpayer for this program is $0.

“The Northern Territory has the highest recidivism rate in the country with almost 50 per cent of people released from the system returning to gaol within two years. We must address this and this program is one way of doing that,” says Mr Elferink.

“At the moment it is common for a prisoner to leave jail with no education, no job, no home, and no money. Many have no opportunity to change their life so default to what they know – often what put them in prison in the first place. This program gives those willing to change their lives, the opportunity to do so.

“The prisoners are paid award wages for the work they do. Five per cent of this income goes to the Victims Assistance Fund and a further $125 is used to pay board. A small amount is given to the prisoner to use inside the gaol and the rest is placed in a trust fund to be accessed when they are released.

“The philosophy of the Mills Government requires eligible prisoners to work,” Mr Elferink said in a media release.

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  1. Posted February 15, 2013 at 9:34 am

    This program is NOT new. It has been in place for over four years under the previous administration. I have been actively engaged in providing support over that period so I know. That being said, it’s a terrific opportunity for incarcerated people to get involved in workplace activity, learn new skills and earn some money. That they pay $125 per week in “board” (at the Alice Springs Correctional Centre) is a good initiative … life costs!!! Working with local businesses and industry in this venture is a win:win for the whole community.

    I do not agree with the Attorney-General that the cost to the taxpayer will be zero dollars. These people have to be escorted to and from the ASCC facility to the workplace on the prison bus so there are costs involved with escorting staff, fuel, bus maintenance etc. I’m not decrying those costs (investments) but they are real.

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