A continued focus on the rehabilitation and reintegration needs of prisoners is the best way to turn the tide on the growing prison population, Corrections Minister Louise Upston says.
Corrections has a number of programmes designed to give offenders a chance at turning their lives around. This was recently given a boost in the Budget with an extra $18.6m for industry, training and support programmes in prisons.
“There is a degree of personal responsibility needed here but Corrections has worked hard in recent years to tailor programmes suited to individuals, designed to help them lead better, crime-free lives when they are released,” says Ms Upston.
“In its efforts to reduce reoffending, Corrections has placed significant emphasis on boosting the education of offenders. In the last financial year the rate of prisoners who started and completed a rehabilitation programme was around 80 per cent.”
Some of the programmes include short motivational programmes, young offenders programmes, drug and alcohol interventions, Maori therapeutic interventions, medium intensity rehabilitation programmes and special treatment unit programmes.
Corrections is committed to giving offenders access to vocational and trades training which support them into employment. In the last year almost 4000 qualifications were awarded to prisoners.
“The department is particularly focused on increasing the number of higher level qualifications achieved by prisoners in the areas of trades and technical training, as these are generally in higher demand from employers,” says Ms Upston.
The drug treatment unit programmes, which are a live-in therapeutic environment for prisoners with alcohol and drug issues, have had the largest increase in participation. The six-month programmes have shown positive results with reductions in rates of both reconviction and re-imprisonment.
In 2008, 234 prisoners started a drug treatment programme but by 2017 that had increased to 5395.