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Recognising International Women’s Day in prison

Recognising International Women’s Day in prison

This Saturday, as part of International Women’s Day, Corrections is celebrating the work it does with women in prison, to assist them in turning their backs on crime.

“The theme for International Women’s Day this year is ’Inspiring Change’, which fits in with our goal of reducing reoffending by 25% by 2017,” says Jo Field, General Manager, Service Development. “What we are effectively doing is attempting to inspire prisoners to change their way of thinking and give them the opportunity to become positive and productive members of society.”

“Female prisoners have specific issues which need to be carefully considered and addressed. For example, many female prisoners have mental health issues and histories of abuse and trauma,” says Ms Field. “We offer specialised training for staff who work with female prisoners to assist them in understanding these women.”

Women prisoners are typically unemployed prior to imprisonment and have low levels of educational achievement. Corrections has a range of rehabilitation and reintegration programmes available for female prisoners to assist them on their pathway of change. These programmes fit into four categories:
· motivational programmes to get offenders to accept they need to change,
· rehabilitation programmes to get offenders to understand and change their offending behaviour,
· education and employment programmes to help them get employment on release, and
· reintegration programmes to give prisoners key life skills to live back in the community.

“Corrections has a number of initiatives to assist female prisoners with their rehabilitation journey,” Ms Field says. “For example, there is the Mothers with Babies units, the Kōwhiritanga programme, Drug Treatment Units, Short Motivational programmes and various qualifications to help them find jobs on their release.”

“We know that prisoners, both men and women, are less likely to reoffend if they are in secure employment and have stable home lives. So, it’s our job to give them the skills they need to achieve this.”

“We have a responsibility to ensure that these women leave prison with the best possible chance to leave crime behind, for their sake and their children’s sake,” Ms Field says. “So we are also ensuring we work closely with agencies like CYF, WINZ and other social services to ensure we are better equipping women to look after their families and to choose lives free of violence on their release.”


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