Docking their pay

Judith Collins has introduced legislation to increase the amount that Corrections can dock prisoners pay and apply it to the direct costs of their incarceration:

Currently Corrections can take 30 per cent of a paycheck from a prisoner’s work-to-release programme, up to $269 a week.

“This law change, should it go through, would enable Corrections to charge any prisoner who is earning income in the same way, whether it be through self-employment or an interest in farms or commercial property,” Corrections Minister Judith Collins said.

The bill would not be passed until the next parliamentary term, she said.

“It would be an irresponsible Parliament that didn’t think that prisoners in those situations should be contributing to the vast expense in keeping them locked up.

“If they’re using time in prison to make money, why wouldn’t we expect the taxpayer to be reimbursed? They get a free office, free board, free food.”

Ms Collins said she was not against prisoners working because it helped rehabilitation.

The bill would leave it in the hands of the prison manager and chief executive to decide if the work was appropriate.

“Clearly it would have to be something that was legal,” Ms Collins said.

The Inland Revenue Department would also be able to deduct money from prisoners’ wages for child support bills.