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Christchurch Residents Prove They Care About Crime

Full House at the Transitional Cathedral as Christchurch Residents Prove They Care About Crime, Reoffending And Prison Reintegration

Does the community care about criminals? The least among us. Those who have hurt us, stolen from us and damaged our property? Yes.

On July 12th, 2018 more than 500 Christchurch residents gathered at the Transitional Cathedral to hear from a panel of experts about how our nation could do better at reducing rates of crime, reoffending and prison reintegration.

Attendees listened as Sir Mark Solomon, Dr Jarrod Gilbert, Reon Nolan and Judge David Saunders, facilitated by RNZ’s talented Kathryn Ryan, discussed the points at which past offenders are failing in the community and some of the reasons we cannot seem to improve our appalling re-conviction rate (fluctuating between 55% and 62% over recent years).

Long-term social and material deprivation, under resourcing, poor community connections, past-trauma and systemic racial bias were all cited by panelists as contributing to the problem. Where all agreed, was that allowing men and women to continue walking out of our prison gates, often with just a $350 grant, no ID or bank account, no accommodation, no job and no pro-social connections is not conducive to a successful transition into the community.

“This is where the community has an opportunity to step in and create a new space for people leaving prison to make different choices. We’ve seen time and again that positive community connections that allow people to find and maintain employment, safe accommodation and new pro-social groups and activities is the difference between a fresh start and returning to old coping strategies” says Carey Ewing, Pathway Reintegration Manager.

At the conclusion of the event, community members were invited to contribute to Pathway’s new partnership with Corrections the “Navigate Initiative” New Zealand’s first community run specialised reintegration unit within prison grounds.

Last night, community members donated more than $100,000 to support this new partnership. Many will also volunteer in the unit through a community skills bank where they will teach new skills, mentor and connect with prisoners who will soon re-enter the community from prison.

“Pathway would like to thank the many generous community members who have signed on to offer new support to people leaving prison. We believe this will make an immense difference to men leaving prison, their families and all families and individuals in the community,” Carey Ewing.

Does the community care enough to change its approach to people leaving prison? Yes.


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