A high-powered gang leader, Jeremy* had received a 12-year prison sentence. He had never had his full license and, as the restricted license he had earned when he was just 18 had expired during his time in prison, he had no current photo ID.
Now committed to creating a good life with his wife and children, Jeremy has earned his full drivers’ license through the Navigate Initiative (NI) while still incarcerated.
“There’s no doubt that having his full license will open up employment opportunities for him,” Tū Ora Navigator Unit Lead Silvan Danuser says. “But the most powerful impact of this is that it will stop him getting caught driving without a license, which can be a recallable offence.”
A partnership with Corrections, the driving programme has been operating within the NI for the past 18 months. The men pass the theory-based learner license and complete a driver safety course prior to any driving lessons.
“For some of the men, their driver's license is their first formal ID,” Reintegration Manager Anaru Baynes says.
“This sets them up to be able to get a bank account, secure employment and rental accommodation, but importantly it avoids the situation where they feel the pressure to drive without a license on release.”
It also represents a strong example of how the NI provides the opportunities and framework for success and the men get a strong sense of pride when they earn their licence.
“We want to take the opportunity to thank Christchurch Men’s Prison Director Jo Harrex who has been a huge advocate of this programme,” Anaru says.
“We’re creating safer, legal drivers and without her support, this wouldn’t have been possible.”
*Name has been changed