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Boost to treatment services for prisons applauded

Downtown Community Ministry


16 August 2006

DCM applauds boost to treatment services for prisons

The funding of more rehabilitation services for inmates with drug and alcohol addictions will finally address a key underlying cause of crime, homelessness and social displacement says Downtown Community Ministry.

DCM Director Stephanie McIntyre says, "For too long our prison system has been content to lockup and forget, now we have a policy prepared to tackle one of the biggest causes of re-offending and our over full prison system."

"We share the Prime Minister's concern that 'within our prisons an alarming number of inmates have drug and alcohol problems,' says Ms McIntrye.

A high proportion of DCM clients have long histories of alcohol and drug abuse, many have served time in the criminal justice system.

New Zealand has the fifth highest rate of imprisonment in the OECD.

Announcing the new Effective Interventions in Criminal Justice policy, Prime Minister Helen Clark said, "Between fifty and sixty percent of offenders are affected by alcohol and/or other drugs at the time of their offending"

She recognised alcohol and drug abuse as "a key underlying cause of offending," and also said, "there has been too little focus within our prison system on the issues which played a part in offenders being sent to jail, and too little emphasis on rehabilitation".

The building of two new drug and alcohol treatment units will take place over the next the next two years. This will increase the number of these facilities in our prisons to six.

While increasing the capacity of treatment services is to be applauded, regrettably with 19 prisons in New Zealand it is unlikely DCM clients will get better access to the alcohol and drug programmes they need.

Therefore DCM is eager to find out when all New Zealand prisons will be equipped with the alcohol and drug treatment facilities they need for the fifty to sixty percent of inmates who need them.


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