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“Johnny come lately” on prison work, drug treatmnt

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Corrections

28 October 2008 Media Statement

National “Johnny come lately” on prison work and drug treatment – Goff

National’s policy release on work and drug treatment in prisons fails to recognise huge progress in both areas over the last three years, compared with its own lacklustre performance in office, Corrections Minister Phil Goff said today.

“In terms of drug treatment, Labour has increased drug and alcohol treatment units in prisons to six, allowing 500 inmates a year to access a six-month intensive treatment course,” Phil Goff said.

“This is a 12-fold increase from the mere 40 inmates who had access to such programmes under National. It has been a very successful programme which on early evaluations has reduced reoffending by 13 per cent and will continue to be built upon.

“With respect to work, Labour has increased the percentage of inmates in work from 40 per cent in 2006 to more than 51 per cent this year, and is on target to achieving its goal of 60 per cent by 2010.

“The increase in jobs has been overwhelmingly in real work situations, with the number of inmates in Corrections Inmate Employment growing from 1500 to 2400 in the last two years alone,” Phil Goff said.

“Major new initiatives such as the refurbishment of state houses and classrooms at Spring Hill are underway. Other exciting prospects include the likely extension in the use of inmates to train disability dogs, for which there is an estimated demand of 600 dogs with each dog requiring two years training.

“Of sentenced inmates, around two thirds are now in work.

“With respect to literacy and numeracy, there has this year been a huge extension in the provision of programmes which will involve around 1850 inmates in the coming year alone.

“The Corrections system has also expanded the number of New Zealand Qualifications Authority credits gained by inmates each year from 20,350 in 2006/2007 to 37,563 in the last financial year.

“Rehabilitation is an important and increasingly emphasized goal within the Corrections system. But the primary gaol of prisons is that of keeping people convicted of serious crimes secure and ensuring the safety of the community,” Phil Goff said.

“On this matter, National has been silent and it should be. Under Labour, the number of escapes from prison has been cut by 84 per cent compared with the late 1990s. Drug use shown up by prison drug testing has been cut by two thirds from when National was in office.

“These are exceptionally good results.

“The shallowness of National politicking on law and order is demonstrated by its criticism of underfloor heating.

“This is adopted in new constructions on the basis of the Department’s evidence that it is the most cost effective and energy efficient heating solution for concrete slab buildings, and offers no opportunity for damage by inmates, or for the use of heaters as weapons or for the purpose of suicide. It is totally a cheap shot.

“The rest of National’s commitments contain an array of meaningless undertakings to “stock take”, “talk to”, “investigate”, “revisit” and “review” areas where action is already being taken,” Phil Goff said.


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