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Government failure to meet re-offending targets disappointing

25 Oct | 2016

The Government’s hoped for 25% reduction in re-offending rates has more or less slipped from its grasp according to the Department of Corrections’ 2015/16 Annual Report released on Friday. 

Twelve-month recidivism rates climbed for the second year in a row pointing to a clear failure in Correction’s prisoner rehabilitation model. Corrections have not published their 24-month recidivism rates, which it normally does as part of its statutory reporting obligations. 

The Salvation Army’s Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit Director Lieut. Colonel Ian Hutson says, ‘The failure is disappointing given the Government’s efforts to reduce prisoner re-offending, but the results are clear proof that the approach to re-integrating and re-habilitating prisoners is just not working.’

The Better Public Service Target set for the Department of Corrections in 2012 was for a 25% reduction in a composite re-conviction/re-imprisonment rate.

‘Good progress was being made toward this target until February 2014 when the cumulative reduction reached 12%, but it has been downhill since then,’ says Hutson. ‘In June 2016, this progress has halved – slipping back to just 6%. With only a year to go to get to the 25% reduction, the Better Public Services target now looks almost impossible.

‘While we cannot deny the Department’s commitment to reaching this target, its present approach is inadequate’, says Hutson. ‘The Corrections Department now acknowledges that many of the influences around re-offending by released prisoners are outside of its influence, so this should be a reason to look for radically different approaches.’ 

Re-integration of former prisoners happens in the community not in prisons, and while released prisoners continue to face problems around unemployment and homelessness on their release, the risk of them falling back into crime is a lot higher.

‘Ideally Government needs to fund NGO and iwi groups to provide released prisoners with support and guidance for months and perhaps years beyond the time they leave prison,’ Hutson says. ‘There are no cheap fixes to correct recidivism as the Government’s recently announced plans to spend a further $1 billion on larger prisons illustrates very well.’

Issued on the Authority of Commissioner Robert Donaldson (Territorial Commander)
The Salvation Army, New Zealand Fiji & Tonga Territory


Spokesperson Comment:

Lieut. Colonel Ian Hutson, Director Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit, 027 471 3645

Mr Alan Johnson, Chief Policy Analyst, Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit, (027) 479 1958

Media Inquiries:

Major Campbell Roberts, Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit, (027) 450 6944