It looks like funding for the Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society is a goner. There is a story in the Dominion Post today that PARS will lose its $2.5 million contract.
This is a tragedy. PARS play a vital role in helping prisoners re-integrate into the community. For well over a hundred years they have helped with accomodation, facilitating job opportunities, and perhaps more than anything else, just being there for people who many in society want to ignore. They perform roles that busy probation officers simply can not do.
As Clayton Cosgrove notes in the article, the community will be less safe as a result of the funding being cut as people released from prison will lack the support to stop them from re-offending.
There are reports of concerns about some financial management issues. The work PARS does is important enough the the Minister and the Department of Corrections need to actively intervene to ensure it survives.
The overall issue of incarceration and rehabilitation in New Zealand needs attention. In the meantime, no matter what we might think of some prisoners, most people in New Zealand prisons will at some point re-enter society. Surely the key task while they are in prison, and immediately on their release is to work with them to make sure we do all we can to prevent further crimes being committed, and to help them find a path to meaningful and positive future. This is what PARS does, and the government needs to help them keep doing it.