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‘New’ Prison programs not so ‘New’

‘New’ Prison programs not so ‘New’

The Sensible Sentencing Trust says the ‘new’ prison programs announced by the Corrections Department are really just a ‘lick-of-paint’ and a makeover of programs that have been tried and failed in the past.

The Minister of Corrections, Hon Judith Collins, has recently announced that the Corrections Department is introducing a ‘new’ case management model into NZ prisons. She claims this ‘new’ model is “a major advance in the management of prisoners in NZ” and “will boost the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners”

But Sensible Sentencing Trust Spokesman Garth McVicar says there is nothing ‘new’ in what the Minister announced.

“This has all been tried before; all that appears to be happening is a makeover of the same old failed policies of the past.”

“The Case Management model was actually introduced into NZ Prisons in 1989, after the Department announced a new approach to managing prisoners within NZ Prisons. This approach was called Te Ara Hou (the new way). The role of Program Manager was established to develop case management plans and source and provide prisoner programs, specifically targeting prisoner rehabilitation needs.
Prison officers became the Case Managers; monitoring prisoner program attendance and progress.”

“Did that model work? No; recidivism rates continued to rise.”

Mr. McVicar said that in 2000 Department introduced what it called “the biggest single initiative it had undertaken to reduce offending”.

“This one was called Integrated Offender Management and was designed to provide an end to end approach in managing a prisoner’s rehabilitation and reintegration.
The role of Sentence Planner was established to assess prisoner needs and develop individual sentence plans and the prison officers became the sentence managers; monitoring prisoner program attendance and progress”

“After the introduction of a few hundred new Sentence Planners has this model worked? No recidivism rates have still continued to rise.”

“Now in 2011 we are supposed to believe that the introduction of another, not so new, prisoner management model and the employment of an additional 227 staff will reduce the risk of prisoners reoffending. Throwing people resources at the problem will not change anything, the recidivism rates will not reduce until the consequences of the criminals’ actions outweigh their gains.”

“Rehabilitation and reintegration can only be successful if offenders make a commitment to change their criminal behaviours.”

“It would appear the people who implemented the failed policies of the past have convinced the Minister that a ‘lick-of-paint’ and calling these programs ‘new’ will make them successful.”

“As the Minister has previously said, “Crime is a choice and Prison is entirely voluntary.”


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