Offenders make contribution

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Offenders on community work sentences contributed to a number of projects in Oamaru last year.
The Department of Corrections has revealed 4471 hours were completed in Oamaru by 73 offenders last year. Community work is a sentence that requires offenders to complete unpaid work in the community, as a way of making up for their offending.
“Offenders on community work support wide-ranging community projects for groups like local schools and community groups, the Department of Conservation and local councils,”Corrections Department southern regional commissioner Ben Clark said.
“They can do projects which may otherwise be costly and even unattainable.”Last year, North Otago offenders worked to maintain local schools, built bike tracks, cleared and cleaned public spaces, and planted and maintained parks and recreation areas.
Some key projects last year included maintaining and tidying Oamaru Steam and Rail, Waitaki Boys’ High School and Kakanui Primary School, planting and tidying Korotuaheka cemetery, weeding and cleaning at Moeraki marae, planting at the Moeraki lighthouse, weeding and clearing Oamaru Creek and the community gardens, developing and maintaining Kurow Island and cutting kindling for the Waitaki Resource Recycle Park.
“Many community organisations we work with depend on the support of volunteers and are on extremely tight budgets,” Mr Clark said.
“Community work gives offenders the opportunity to take responsibility for their offending and contribute to the community in which they have offended.”About half of offenders on community sentences were unemployed, and research showed a correlation between being in employment and maintaining a crime-free life, he said. Through the community work, offenders learned skills and habits that might help them secure employment and, by doing so, reduce the likelihood of their re-offending, he said.