Belfast Telegraph

Prisoner incentive scheme reformed

Prisoners will have to work for extra benefits under new reforms announced by the Justice Minister.

The overhaul of the "prisoner incentive scheme" is aimed at addressing offending and means inmates will not be automatically rewarded for good behaviour.

David Ford said: "Those prisoners who are prepared to work with the service and with partner agencies should be the ones who benefit most from what is being proposed.

"In the past there were incentives for prisoners who didn't behave badly or didn't cause problems, but this needs to change. Rather than reward an absence of bad behaviour we should be rewarding good behaviours and have proper and meaningful incentives for those prisoners who are engaging in purposeful activity and working earnestly to meet the targets of their sentence plan."

The Minister was speaking at an event in Belfast's Crumlin Road jail.

He also revealed plans to establish a drug rehabilitation unit at Maghaberry Prison to tackle addiction problems in prisons.

Mr Ford said there was a need to balance a firm approach against those who misuse substances against those who genuinely wanted help while in custody.

The initiatives for reform across five key areas also included the re-categorisation of women prisoners and young offenders; work to enhance the employability prospects of prisoners; and a joined-up approach to resettlement.

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