The history of The Salvation Army is rooted in our mission of caring for people, transforming lives and reforming society by God’s power. Over the years, our commitment to prisoner reintegration has remained steadfast since establishing the Prison Gate Brigade homes in 1883 in New Zealand. We continue to provide vital support services through Reintegration Services for many leaving prison, to help them rebuild their lives and avoid reoffending.
Collaboration with the Department of Corrections has been an essential aspect of our work, aiming to improve outcomes for those leaving prison and reduce reoffending rates. Furthermore, through our Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit, we advocate for systemic and structural changes that promote better outcomes for people incarcerated.
Whilst progress has been made, challenges remain in addressing the concerning trends within the prison population. The overrepresentation of Māori, high rates of recidivism and the growing remand population highlight the need for continued efforts to support successful reintegration.
Access to basic necessities to function in society, such as identification, bank accounts and driver licences poses significant challenges for individuals leaving prison and finds them in a catch-22 cycle. The lack of proper identification can hinder the process of reintegrating into society, while limited access to banking services and driver licences, affects employment opportunities and financial stability.
This paper aims to shed light on the challenges faced by people leaving prison and transitioning back into society, and proposes practical improvements that can make a tangible difference in the reintegration process. Recommendations include streamlining the process for obtaining identification documents, promoting initiatives for immediate access to banking services, revising the Steps to Freedom grant to provide more comprehensive support and collaborating with driver education programmes to facilitate obtaining driver licences.
During the election campaign, the topic of crime and punishment once again gained significant attention, with a focus on a tough stance on crime appealing to many members of the public. Regardless of the various perspectives presented, regarding New Zealand’s approach to addressing crime, it is a fact that individuals will continue to be incarcerated and released from prisons. To break the cycle of reoffending, we must improve the support provided to individuals upon their release. The Salvation Army advocates for all who come through our doors, including many walking out of the prison gates. We believe in offering the necessary support to ensure individuals have the resources and guidance they need for successful reintegration into society.
We urge government departments, including Corrections and the Ministry of Social Development, to implement these recommendations and address identified challenges. Collaboration with private sector banking, community organisations and non-profits can enhance the reintegration process, improve outcomes for people leaving prison and reduce the likelihood of reoffending. Our commitment remains steadfast in restoring people to society, advocating for systemic changes and providing necessary support for successful reintegration.
Read the SPPU Report - CATCH 22: The Unattainable Basic Necessities of Reintegration