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Intelligent approach to reducing re-offending

24 May 2002

Intelligent approach to reducing re-offending is working, says Robson

Reacting to the release today by the Justice Ministry of historical figures on inmate re-offending, Corrections Minister Matt Robson said the prison service has come a long way since then in rehabilitating and reintegrating inmates.

“We have known re-offending is a big problem some time. Unlike previous governments, we are doing something about it, says Matt Robson.

“We now have a clear focus in the prison service on turning inmates away from criminal offending. There is a huge amount of intensive work being put into inmates to reduce re-offending when they return to the community, and it’s working.

“Since the period covered by the figures, we have developed Integrated Offender Management specifically to reduce recidivism through best practice programmes.

“Research shows that identifying the highest risk offenders, finding out what causes their offending and addressing these issues produces significant reductions in re-offending.

“Interventions found to reduce reconviction have been introduced, such as:

 New Start inmate employment scheme;
 Programmes for substance abusers, violent offenders and serious driving offenders;
 Intensive group programmes for other offenders, for example burglars, fraud offenders;
 Programmes for Maori offenders such as Mahi Tahi, Maori Therapeutic programmes and Maori Focus Units;
 Programmes that address criminal attitudes.

Evaluations show that the Kia Marama and Te Piriti programmes already in place targeted at child sex offenders have halved reconviction, programmes aimed at violent offenders have reduced violent recidivism by 18 percent, and psychological treatment reduces reconviction of inmates by 12 percent.

“Earlier this month I launched the Kaiwhakanama scheme, where Kaumatua will get greater access to Maori in prison in a bid to reduce Maori re-offending. Kaumatua will assist inmates with family relationships and make sure they re-integrate into the community safely.

“Over half the prison population is Maori. It stands to reason that kaumatua are often the best people to make these offenders face the consequences of their offending.

“Recent statistics show re-offending rates of Maori have dropped by up to 10% in the last year. I have no doubt that is in part due to the success of our five new Maori focus units which are run according to strict tikanga Maori which has been proven to reduce re-offending.

“Earlier this month I launched Start Over, which aims to bring together willing employers released offenders, to get them into stable jobs and stop them re-offending.

“In similar schemes overseas, released offenders who were in stable jobs re-offended at less than half the rate of unemployed offenders, and committed only one quarter as many new violent offences as unemployed offenders.

“In the youth offending area, the Budget announced funding to set up Day Reporting Centres for young people convicted of a first adult offence and assessed as being at greatest risk of becoming established adult offenders.

“In the Day Reporting Centres, offenders will get intensive attention designed to getting to the bottom of their criminal behaviour. They will be taught the life skills we take for granted, their drug and alcohol problems will be sorted out, and there will be a strong focus on employment skills followed by job placement and supervision, all aimed at reducing re-offending.

“My ‘About Time’ report sets out a blueprint strategy for turning people away from a life of crime and reducing re-offending.

“Longer prison sentences do not reduce recidivism, rehabilitation programmes and interventions do.

“All these initiatives have been ridiculed by luddite politicians as soft options, but what they are really saying is they have no credible solutions themselves. All they can give the public is meaningless slogans on bumper stickers and billboards.

“It’s not about who is hard or soft on crime, it’s about what works, says Matt Robson.


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