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Corrections Goals Ambitious but Attainable

Corrections Goals Ambitious but Attainable

“While the Budget 2012 proposal to reinvest $65m of the Corrections Vote in order to reduce reoffending and victims will have its critics, it looks to us like a genuine effort on the part of the Corrections Minister to distant herself from the ‘tough on crime’ rhetoric of the last decade, toward a smarter use of the taxpayer’s money says Kim Workman, Director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment.

“The proposal is highly ambitious, and represents a major shift in the way Corrections has conducted its business over the last two decades. It is going to require a major culture change in both Prisons and Community Probation. Efforts to Increase community and prison drug treatment by 500%, other rehabilitation programmes by 230%, and increase education and employment training by 30%, will require a fundamental change in the way staff relate to prisoners and offenders, and a realignment of their roles.”

“Less than four years ago, the former CEO Barry Matthews, declared that the Community Probation staff were solely in the business of ensuring offenders complied with their Court Orders. That has now changed, and staff will be required to refocus their roles to the objectives of rehabilitation and reintegration.”

“The larger challenge will be the willingness of Corrections to engage in partnership with community and iwi organisations in the delivery of rehabilitation and reintegration. Over the last twenty years, service providers have uniformly complained about the negative contracting environment within Corrections. If this strategy is to succeed, that will need to change very quickly.”

“The CEO, Ray Smith has a big job to do – but he is up to it. The organisational restructure will send a clear message about what is required.”

“Detractors of the proposal will point out that the crime rate is almost certain to reduce anyway. The number of 15 – 24 year olds, the age group that commits most of the crime, is expected to plateau by 2013, and then decline until 2023. Some will insist that what is really needed, is a system review of the entire criminal justice system, including sentencing policy. Others will contend that prisons in themselves cause crime, and doing rehabilitation in prison is not the best value for money.”

“While Rethinking accepts that those points are valid, this is the time for all those involved in the criminal justice sector to climb on board with the Chief Executive, and provide the community support needed to make this work.”

www.rethinking.org.nz

ENDS

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