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First prison re-integration unit crucial step

Hon Damien O’Connor
Minister of Corrections,
Minister of Tourism,
Minister for Rural Affairs,
Associate Minister of Health

30 October, 2006
Embargoed 2.30pm Media Statement

First prison re-integration unit crucial step to reducing re-offending

A new specialist reintegration unit opened today at Rimutaka Prison will help prisoners re-adjust to life in the community, Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor said.

Mr O’Connor said the 60-bed unit, the first of its kind in New Zealand, will provide specialist reintegrative support to prisoners nearing the end of their sentence.

“The unit is an example of the Government’s increased focus on reducing re-offending, a key plank of the Effective Interventions package announced in August. It is in all of our best interests to help ex-prisoners stay free of crime."

Mr O’Connor said that after investing $1 billion in four new prisons over the past five years, New Zealand cannot continue to build further prisons.

“New Zealand’s prison population is too high. Today there are over 7700 prisoners and within five years the prison population could be getting close to 9000. It's clear the system is not working – but we are starting to make a difference."

Mr O'Connor said a specialist reintegration team based in the unit will provide motivated prisoners with the skills they need to find and maintain accommodation and employment, manage relationships, manage finances and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“The unit will work closely with other government agencies and prisoner support groups to ensure prisoners have the support that will help them go straight.”

Mr O’Connor says the unit compliments other reintegration and rehabilitation initiatives the Government has announced over the past twelve months.

These include: specialist reintegration caseworkers in prisons throughout the country; more work and training opportunities under the Prisoner Employment Strategy; a big increase in drug and alcohol treatment places, and more attention to other issues, such as prisoners' health, which are a factor in offending.

ENDS

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