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New prison special treatment units

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Corrections

27 February 2008
Media statement

New prison special treatment units and community-based programme the latest Government initiatives to reduce re-offending

Corrections Minister Phil Goff today opened a new special treatment unit for high- risk offenders at Waikeria Prison and announced a new community based programme, both aimed at tackling the cause of serious offending.

“The Special Treatment Unit offers a new programme which will ensure high risk and violent offenders who abuse alcohol and drugs and who have a high probability of re-offending receive treatment before they are released from prison,” Mr Goff said.

“This initiative is the latest in a series of developments over the past two years focused on providing new and improved rehabilitation programmes for offenders to reduce the level of re-offending.

“The specially designed programme for high-risk offenders, has been trialled at the prison since August 2007. Two further special treatment units are to be opened at Spring Hill and Christchurch prisons over the next 12-18 months.

“The reason for this programme firstly is to protect the community from re-offending by inmates and to reduce the risk of further people becoming victims. Secondly, it is a bonus for the community if we can stop the cost and wasted lives of inmates for whom prison is a revolving door,” Mr Goff said.

“The cognitive-behavioural programme is based on international research which shows what works best for these offenders is higher intensity treatment particularly in a special treatment unit setting.

“The programme, which involves 100 three-hour group sessions, forces prisoners to look at the causes and consequences of their own offending.

“It challenges them to question the way they think, to tackle their substance abuse and to address the way they manage their behaviour and relationships. Offenders on the programme live separately from the main prison population.”

The new units will provide treatment for 120 prisoners a year. They add to the highly successful Kia Marama and Te Piriti units for sex offenders, the specialist violence prevention unit at Rimutaka Prison, and Rimutaka’s reintegration unit which was opened last year.

Mr Goff also announced a new programme for offenders in the community called First Steps, in partnership with the Ministry of Health.

“The programme involves specialist teams in the Auckland region working alongside DHB professionals to provide intervention for drug or alcohol-affected offenders in the community and those about to be released from prison, Mr Goff said.

“Continuity of treatment is important for prisoners on their release. Those who have sought treatment for drug and alcohol abuse while in prison need continuing access to treatment once they are released, when the prospect of relapse is much higher,” Mr Goff said.

The programme will be rolled out nationally over time.


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