SPASIFIK teams up with Corrections

SPASIFIK publisher INNES LOGAN met with Jeanette Burns (Corrections Northern Regional Commissioner) and Peter Salu (Recruitment Co-ordinator Corrections Northern Region) at the regional offices in Penrose Auckland following the publishing of Issue 70 and donated 200 magazines to Corrections for nationwide distribution among the 19 facilities nationwide to encourage Pacific and Maori inmates to learn to read.

 

 

It is estimated at least half of all inmates are functionally illiterate. Literacy provides greater opportunities for inmates to find sustainable employment once they’re released, which also assists in them in gaining a full drivers’ license.

 

Innes shares his personal journey of growing up in a West Auckland family struggling to make ends meet and his own underachievement in the education system before finding his way as a writer, editor and publisher thanks to his love of the written word.

 


Read on for his editorial in SPASIFIK from Issue 70.

 

 

When the Department of Corrections enquired about having a presence in SPASIFIK magazine I couldn’t help but suggest a partnership of sorts. I recall on RNZ – formerly Radio New Zealand - Mike Williams from the NZ Howard League for Penal Reform advocating for basic literacy programmes in prisons to assist inmates in having a greater chance of employment when released.

 

Williams also advocated for programmes aimed at getting driving offenders their licenses and therefore diverting them from a potential prison sentence.

 

Pacific and Maori are most affected and it creates criminal records against those who are adversely affected by it for the rest of their lives.

 

The NZ Howard League has a successful programme in the Hawke’s Bay, where Williams lives and it’s also running a basic literacy programme at Rimutaka Prison.

 

 

Growing up in West Auckland, I’d visit friends’ places and became aware that, generally speaking, books in my mainly European friends’ homes were more common than my Pacific and Maori friends. It is a generalisation, as a number of my brown brothers have achieved in so many ways.

 

 

Thankfully, my father noticed my interest in reading and began buying books, like the New Junior Encyclopedia set in the 1970s. Not being able to afford much more ensured certain facts from the set would be engrained into my brain. I feel privileged that my passion has become my vocation.

 

My older brother Scott wasn’t so lucky.

 

He and my older sister Jean grew up when books in our home barely existed. From a young age, Scott’s life involved hanging around peers who lived on the streets, being away from home for days, with his family not knowing his whereabouts until he arrived back home hungry, nonchalant and into a maelstrom of confusion and anger from Mum and Dad.

 

Scott died in 1979 in Christchurch at age 20 when he overdosed on methadone, having spent much of his life in boys’ homes and prisons. One of the last times we saw him alive was at Paremoremo Prison on Auckland’s North Shore.

 

He’d badly beaten someone and Mum kept asking him why. He couldn’t - or wouldn’t - say.

 

Books were my form of escapism. Today, with the digital world creating seemingly unlimited reading choices, literacy creates a world of opportunities. A world where acquiring knowledge and recognised skills opens doors.

 

New Zealand’s prison rates are appallingly high by OECD standards. We have a strong and growing economy, but it doesn’t mean we can afford to lock people up and throw away the key.  

 

It’s a privilege for SPASIFIK to be able to provide magazines to facilities across the nation.

 

In our more than 13 years of publishing, we’ve received letters from inmates as far away as the US, Australia and the Pacific Islands expressing gratitude.

 

Upon receiving such letters and emails, I think of my brother. Being unable to save him and others from a life in prison shouldn’t prevent us from trying … and trying again … and again.

 

www.howardleague.org.nz

 

08/11/17