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Corrections relocates offender from Maungaraki

News Release

For Immediate Release 22 August 2016

Corrections relocates offender from Maungaraki

Please attribute to Corrections National Commissioner Jeremy Lightfoot

This morning Corrections relocated an offender from Maungaraki to a residence on the grounds of Christchurch Men’s Prison. This is an interim arrangement until such time as a further suitable residence can be identified in the Wellington region. The offender will continue to be managed by Corrections under the same stringent conditions.

The relocation of this offender became necessary as our service provider’s staff had became increasingly uncomfortable with the community’s reaction to their presence. Because of this, the service provider regrettably terminated its contract early.

My staff and our provider went to a great deal of care and effort in placing and managing this offender in Maungaraki. Corrections worked closely with other agencies including the Police and the Ministry of Education. The local Council was advised ahead of the placement. Immediate neighbours were notified of the placement, as is my preference with such cases. I firmly believe that Corrections took all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the community.

The offender was, and continues to be, subject to direct supervision at all times. He may only leave his residence with prior approval and must be accompanied. In addition, he is electronically monitored with strict exclusion zones. He has been managed in the community for more than 10 years without re-offending.

It is a daily reality that offenders move to reside in the community at the conclusion of their custodial sentences. Once released, offenders will frequently be subject to further restrictions depending upon the level of risk that they pose and the likelihood of reoffending. In most cases, as it was with this offender, these restrictions are sufficient to protect the public. We also know that a supportive social network and stable accommodation reduces the likelihood of reoffending.

Corrections has robust procedures that are followed when offenders move to reside in the community and the vast majority of these placements are successfully undertaken without incident or adverse reaction from the local community. Despite this, the movement of some offenders on release from prison can become particularly challenging for my staff, our providers, partner agencies and the communities in which they reside.

After concerns were expressed by some residents my staff attended a public meeting and subsequently met with the Mayor and local Members of Parliament to listen to their concerns.

My staff have a statutory responsibility to place offenders in the community following both the direction of the court and the Parole Board, this is not an authority they can fail to act on, it is the law. My preference is that they do this with the support of local community leaders when high risk offenders are involved, that way a more sustainable outcome should be able to be achieved for all concerned parties.

If we can learn from the experience in Maungaraki ways in which we can do this better for concerned communities we are absolutely open to doing so.

Corrections is also bringing in extra resources to assist with the placement of offenders in the community.

ends


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