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Department of In-Corrections letting us down

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Department of In-Corrections letting us down

United Future deputy leader Judy Turner has expressed her disappointment at the Department of Corrections lack of concern over alcohol and drug related illnesses within the prison population.

“I am quite shocked by the attitude of the Department to this extremely serious problem,” said Mrs Turner.

“I asked the Associate Minister of Corrections in the House today; what possible justification he had for why his department fails to keep a record of the number of inmates with alcohol and drug addictions when it is accepted that alcohol and drugs are a major cause of criminal activity, anti-social behaviour and are widespread within New Zealand’s prison population.

"The Minister’s only explanation was that the Probation Service makes available information about a prisoner to the Department of Corrections.

“Neither today’s answer or the answers I have got from written questions on this topic show that the department places any priority in alcohol and drug rehabilitation.

"In fact the Minister of Corrections Hon Damien O’Connor has in the past said that he does not consider the collation of alcohol and drug addiction records a good use of his department’s resources. Well what is then?!

“The Salvation Army’s Beyond the Holding Tank report published early this year states that although a majority of inmates have drug and alcohol problems there is little early rehabilitation or drug and alcohol help.

"Corrections are only funded to treat 174 inmates per year in specialist drug and alcohol rehabilitation services. This is approximately 4 percent of those who are likely to require it. The few programmes that are offered are only available to inmates with a minimum or low-medium security classification.

“As far as I am concerned this situation is not good enough. However it seems like too much to ask when one advocates alcohol and drug rehabilitation programmes when the Department does not even have the available records for the number of inmates who would require rehabilitation.

“Baby steps are obviously required.

“I would encourage the Department to start recording and publishing such data and then who knows, that may even give us the opportunity to start treating the problem,” concluded Mrs Turner.

ENDS

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