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Fewer prisoners returning positive drug tests

Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga
Minister of Corrections

9 October 2015

Fewer prisoners returning positive drug tests

Fewer prisoners are testing positive for drugs and more of them are taking part in drug and alcohol treatment programmes, says Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga.

During the 2014/15 year there were about 4500 general random drug tests on prisoners. The rate of positive results was 3.7 per cent. In comparison, the rate of positive results in 2008/09 was 11 per cent.

“Reducing the demand for and availability of drugs in prisons creates a safer environment for staff and better rehabilitation outcomes for prisoners,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

More than 4500 prisoners accessed alcohol and drug treatment in 2014/15, including brief, intermediate and intensive programmes of between one and eight weeks.

“Almost 1000 prisoners attended three- or six-month residential drug treatment unit programmes delivered by contracted providers Care NZ and Odyssey House in 11 specialist units at prisons across the country,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

In addition, almost 5000 prisoners received brief alcohol and drug interventions delivered by health staff.

By comparison, in 2008/09, about 500 prisoners began a treatment programme.

Last month Mr Lotu-Iiga announced Corrections would spend $8.63 million over three years to develop and deliver a post-release programme to help offenders break their addictions and reduce reoffending.

“Drug and alcohol abuse is a major driver of crime. Two-thirds of prisoners have substance abuse problems and more than half of crimes are committed by people under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Often this is a major factor in their reoffending,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

“Our government is committed to reducing reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017. Breaking the link between substance abuse and offending is crucial if we want to reduce the number of people in prison.”

ENDS

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