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Published date: Wednesday 27 February 2019
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A new program will be expanded at Kirkconnell Correctional Centre in the state’s central west following the successful employment of the prison’s first work-release inmate.
Paul Spencer*, 35, has been employed as a welder and fabricator by Bathurst company Still Engineering after a year-long placement while on prison work release.
Work release allows carefully selected minimum-security inmates approaching the end of their sentences to attend workplaces in the community.
Manager of Security Lennox Peter said this was a good example of the importance of vocational training in assisting offenders reintegrate back into the community.
“Ongoing employment is a significant factor to help reduce the risk of re-offending so if we can help provide the skills to make offenders job-ready, that’s a first step to prevent their return,” Mr Peter said.
“Paul came into custody with no trade skills and a bad attitude but with the assistance of our staff and Still Engineering, he has been given the chance to change his ways.”
A second work-release inmate at Kirkconnell is currently on placement at another Bathurst engineering company with the prison looking to expand the work-release program to include three more inmates.
Still Engineering Managing Director Matthew Still said it is great to be part of program to assist people who have turned the corner and are both ready and worthy to participate in society once again.
“I’d like to commend the staff at Kirkconnell in providing positive outcomes for inmates and for their ongoing support and training opportunities,” Mr Still said.
“Paul is a genuine hard worker, reliable, respected by peers and a good example of reform. We look forward to continuing to assist Kirkconnell where we can.”
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole congratulated the efforts of staff and local businesses to work together to support inmates prior to their release.
“The NSW Government is committed to reducing the rate of reoffending and programs such as this help put offenders back on the right path.”
Kirkconnell Correctional Centre is known as a working and vocational training prison with nearly 80 per cent of its 260 inmates employed in prison industries including engineering, small motors, grounds maintenance, community projects and food services.
Traineeships and courses are offered in areas including engineering, horticulture, welding, automotive painting as well as forklift and tractor operation. More than 80 inmates have enrolled in such programs in the past three years with a high completion rate.
*Surname has changed for privacy reasons