group of University of Otago law students are spending time
The 11 students have not found themselves on the wrong side
of the law but are volunteering for Law for Change, a
programme aimed at helping rehabilitate Otago Corrections
Law student Mary McCartin, who organises volunteering for Law
for Change Otago, said she became involved because she wanted
see what it was like on the ''other side'' and relate to
prisoners on a ''personal level''.
She was part of a group holding art and card-making classes
with prisoners, while another two groups were holding music
and sports sessions.
Interacting with prisoners had been much less intimidating
than she expected.
''You are always thinking the worst can happen, but when you
get there it is not as bad as people say.''
She had helped the prisoners make Mother's Day cards and
cards for their children's birthdays.
Fellow volunteer Michael Morrison said the experience could
help law students after they graduated.
''It's a really good way for law students, who potentially
come from medium to high socio-economic backgrounds, to
engage with [the type of people] who could be their clients
should they go into criminal [law].''
It was also good for the prisoners, who were ''really keen
for outside interaction''.
Corrections regional commissioner Ian Bourke said these
interactions were ''really important''.
''The prisoners really look forward to working with the
''For some, had they made a different decision or taken a
slightly different path, they could be sitting in each
''Engaging with the students helps the offenders see that
this could be them,'' Mr Bourke said.
In one of a number of other examples of students helping at
South Island prisons, nine Christchurch medical students from
the University of Otago recently visited Christchurch Men's
Prison, to educate offenders in its youth prison unit about
safe sexual health behaviours and sexually transmitted