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No drug and alcohol treatment in new prisons

No drug and alcohol treatment in new prisons

Drug and alcohol treatment centres have been left out of the plans in the expensive new prisons currently being built.

Alliance Social Services spokesperson Gail Marmont says nine out of 10 inmates in our prisons have significant problems with drug or alcohol abuse, and ignoring the issue is totally counter-productive.

“Apart from the huge cost in human suffering, it is not financially cost-effective,” she says.

New Zealand has the highest rate of imprisonment in the Western world, apart from the United States. Approximately 85 percent of youth passing through our justice system have problems with drug or alcohol abuse or addiction.

“What is going to happen to these young people when they’re released? They will re-offend because nothing has been done about the structural and societal problems that got them into trouble in the first place, and their drug and alcohol abuse, which is symptomatic of these wider issues, is not being addressed.”

Ms Marmont says Waikeria Prison and Arohata Women’s Prison have treatment units which have good success rates, and there are limited places around the country’s prisons for those serving more than six months. But these places do not meet the actual need.

“The amount spent on drug and alcohol programmes for New Zealand offenders is currently $NZ1.9 million. This is peanuts, given the scale of the problem.”

An Alliance Government would ensure drug and alcohol services were available for all inmates to ensure rehabilitation. Residential services attached to the prisons have been shown to be more effective preparation for release than referring people to services outside prisons on release.

Ms Marmont says the Government presents as humane and caring, but is deliberately ignoring the root causes of social distress – low wages, inadequate opportunities for employment, soaring housing costs and expensive education.

“The Alliance calls on this Government to act like a real Labour Government instead of courting Big Business, and start to provide effective drug and alcohol services, both in its prisons and out of them.”

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