Over 250 offenders and ex-prisoners have been given a second chance with a driving programme in the Eastern Bay of Plenty helping people off the pathway to prison and into work.

NZ Howard League for Penal Reform Operations Manager Jenny Michie says the programme is excellent value for money and costs about the same as keeping one person in prison for a year.

“We only have to keep one person out of jail for a year and the Crown has its money back” she says.

The programme covers the costs of getting the correct ID needed for a licence, practice with a qualified driving instructor, paying for the driving tests and providing a car in which to sit the practical tests.

East Coast MP and former Corrections Minister Hon Anne Tolley spoke today at the event in Kawerau where over 60 people have become legal drivers thanks to the programme.

The programme is one of 16 Howard League driving programmes funded by the Provincial Growth Fund and NZTA. Nationwide the programme has achieved over 4000 driving licences and works with Corrections to place offenders into employment once they are legal drivers.