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Minister announces more youth units

New Zealand will get two more youth units at Christchurch and Wellington prisons and Hawkes Bay youth unit will be expanded, Minister of Corrections Matt Robson announced today while visiting the Hawkes Bay Unit.

The 17-bed youth unit at Hawke’s Bay Prison has been operating successfully for the past 7 months. Matt Robson opened the second youth unit at Waikeria Prison in June.

"The Hawkes Bay unit has so far been a huge success. There have been no positive drug tests and no contraband found in the unit," says Matt Robson.

"Our aim is to target young offenders by keeping them away from hardened adult criminals, and keeping them busy all day, every day in tough, effective programs.
This is not a soft option. These young people work hard, they're safe, the community is safe, and hopefully we stop them re-offending in the future.

"I wanted to be sure that we had enough left over after the budget to continue building youth units. Today I can announce that we have an extra $6.4 million which will make it possible for us to build these two new youth units and expand Hawkes Bay by March next year. This will increase the number of beds in specialised youth facilities by 90 to a total of 142.

"Reducing youth offending is a priority. At present 90% of youth offenders re-offend within five years of their release. We have to do something about that.

“Overseas research shows that units which are designed specifically for youth with programmes targeted at adolescents, significantly reduce re-offending.

"The secret to the success is what happens inside these units. All inmates are initially assessed for suicide and self-harm, risk.

"Then they undertake a specialised adolescent development programme. This challenges young offenders with anti-social behaviour patterns to work together by using a peer-helping approach. The aim is to fill their days with schooling, work, sport and programs targeting the reasons for their offending," says Matt Robson.

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