The Kia Marama Special Treatment Unit, based at Rolleston Prison, is a 60 bed special treatment unit for child sex offenders.
Kia Marama means 'let there be light' in Te Reo Maori, and was chosen as the name for New Zealand's first treatment programme for child sex offenders.
The unit has a fully developed therapeutic community in which staff from all services work collaboratively with prisoners from diverse cultures.
International and New Zealand research has shown that cognitive-behavioural rehabilitation programmes that focus on relapse prevention can produce significant reductions in the rate of re-offending for child sex offenders.
The Kia Marama Unit was established to treat men who have committed sexual offences against children so that they avoid re-offending.
The Kia Marama programme aims to reduce re-offending by:
- Motivating offenders to want to change by addressing the risks and effects of their individual offending.
- Reducing the recidivism risk of men who have sexually abused children using intensive group treatment that targets risk factors associated with re-offending.
- Increasing the safety for children in society by providing offenders with life-long skills that will assist them to manage their risk factors.
Research has proven that programmes, activities and therapy are most effective when matched with a prisoner's rehabilitative needs, characteristics and demographics including their cultural background.
- The therapeutic approach in the Kia Marama programme considers the physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing of each prisoner.
- The Kia Marama programme is structured into different modules which address the risk factors for re-offending, identified by international research.
- The Kia Marama therapy programme is group-based, as research has shown that this is more effective.
- Each group contains 10 participants, who meet for three-hour sessions, three times a week for 33 weeks. The entire programme takes nine months, as it includes an intensive pre and post-treatment assessment period.
- Each treatment programme is facilitated by one of a team of psychologists. The programme also has a part-time cultural consultant, and a bi-cultural therapist who works alongside the psychologists and delivers a bi-cultural therapy group.
- Although men undertake the group treatment programme within the therapeutic community, standard prison rights and regulations apply - cell inspections, prison clothing and regular work routines. Education and recreation programmes are also available.
- After completing the core part of the treatment programme, men go into the Graduates Group to consolidate the changes they have made, and take on roles in the therapeutic community that assist men coming into the unit.
- The Kia Marama programme also offers a wide range of restorative activities such as waiata (song), whakapapa (genealogy) and whakairo (carving) in association with an auxiliary Kapa Haka programme.
- In 1986, research showed that re-offending rates for sex offenders were around 25 per cent.
- In 1998 research indicated that treatment was reducing re-offending by more than 50 per cent. Only 8 per cent of the prisoners who had completed the Kia Marama programme had re-offended, compared with 22-25 per cent of prisoners who had not been treated.
- In 2003 analysis of prisoners who had completed the Kia Marama programme between 1994 and 2001 found that only 4 per cent had re-offended, indicating the programme had become even more effective with the introduction of bicultural therapy and standardised treatment modules.
To be admitted to the Kia Marama Unit, prisoners must:
- Be convicted of, or have admitted to, one or more sexual offences against someone under the age of 16.
- Volunteer for treatment.
- Admit to their offending.
- Must not suffer from mental health illness or intellectual disability that would interfere with programme participation.
- Have an ASRS (Automated Sexual Recidivism Scale) risk rating of medium-low (2) or higher.
- Have a STABLE score that elevates their risk rating to low-medium or higher if their ASRS score is lower than 2.
- Be 20 years and over (18 – 20 year old prisoners can be considered on a case-by-case basis).
Prisoners admitted to the Kia Marama Unit must:
- Undergo assessment by prison psychologists over a two to three week period once they are scheduled for a treatment programme. The assessment includes a series of clinical interviews, beginning with the inmate's personal views towards their offending.
- Abide by the community of change rules at all times.
- Be honest about their offending and open to changing problematic patterns of behaviour.
- Support other participants to address the issues that contribute to their offending behaviour.
- Not be involved in any drug or other illegal activity.
- Not be involved in any sexual activity in the unit.
- Not use threatening or violent behaviour (men who do use violence or repeated threats of violence can be evicted from the programme).
- Understand that they can refuse further treatment and are free to withdraw from the programme at any time.
- The programme helps offenders to look at the patterns of their offending and identifies high risk situations.
- Kia Marama was opened in 1989, the first special treatment unit of its kind.
- A bicultural model within a therapeutic community is utilised at Kia Marama to provide treatment for men from culturally diverse backgrounds.
- Every prisoner leaves the programme with a reintegration plan that includes approved support people, follow up sessions with probation officers, and mandatory attendance to support groups, as conditions of parole.
- Every prisoner leaving the treatment programme is monitored by CPPS probation officers.
- A 2002 Canadian review of international sex offender programmes held Kia Marama as one of the most effective treatment programmes available internationally, on the basis of the unit's evaluation document ‘And There was Light'.
- Kia Marama is one of two special treatment units for men who offend sexually against children – the other, Te Piriti is based at Auckland Prison.
- More than 850 men have completed the programme.
- Reconviction rates for those treated after 1994 are less than five per cent.
- Prison Service Officers at Kia Marama receive special ongoing training.
- Prisoners completing the programme also serve a parole period after release ranging from six months onwards.