7 April 2008
Hawke's Bay Prison's Drug Treatment Unit (DTU) celebrated its first birthday last week with a low key celebration.
Acting Hawke's Bay Prison Manager Yvonne Fuller says the celebration included a staff open day where off duty staff from other parts of the prison had the chance to come and look at the unit, view some prisoner artwork and get more information from DTU staff and counsellors to encourage prisoners in their units to apply for the course.
"When you consider that 60 per cent of offenders are affected by alcohol or drugs at the time of their offending, it is important we get as many suitable prisoners into this programme as possible," says Ms Fuller.
"Providing such an intensive programme gives motivated prisoners the tools to turn their lives around, by allowing them to address long standing addictions, which are often a significant driver in their offending."
The DTU programme runs for 24 weeks and includes behavioural therapy and education on addiction and change.
Prisoners must enter the programme acknowledging that they have an addiction and accepting there is a need to do something about it. Each prisoner signs a contract upon entry to the unit which includes a requirement to stay drug and alcohol free.
To ensure that prisoners are keeping their word and sticking to the commitment they must also submit to random drug tests.
"Twenty six prisoners have graduated from the DTU programme in the last year. This is a rigorous course, if staff aren't confident a prisoner has completed part of the course satisfactorily they won't graduate until they are up to scratch," say Ms Fuller
"These prisoners gain skills and techniques that will aid them in remaining drug free and in recognising trigger points in their lives that could cause them to relapse.
"The DTU has seen some real success stories over the past year. One that comes to mind was a prisoner who was very difficult and critical when he first entered the unit. By the time he graduated and left a significant change had been seen in him.
"His family wrote to the DTU staff thanking them for helping him turn a corner in his life. He is now on Release to Work and doing really well."
The Department contracts Care NZ to deliver the DTU programmes. Care NZ staff treat prisoners through cognitive behavioural therapy in both one-on-one and group situations.
Hawkes Bay's DTU is one of five around the country with a sixth due to open at the new Spring Hill Corrections Facility later this year.
Notes to reporters
Please use the following link to access a Corrections Fact sheet on DTUs:
For information on Care NZ please see their website: http://www.carenz.co.nz/
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