Nine men at the Karaka Special Treatment Unit in Waikeria Prison have graduated from a programme to reduce violent offending.
The Special Treatment Unit Rehabilitation Programme (STURP) provides treatment to serious violent offenders with a high risk of re-offending. All prisoners participating in the programme have been convicted of at least one violent offence.
Karaka Psychologist TeeJay Halliday says the ten-month long programme works to reduce re-offending by developing prisoners' insight in their offending and motivating them to adopt pro-social values.
STURP includes 250 hours of group based cognitive behavioural therapy for prisoners to engage in intensive treatment to identify their individual risk areas and to learn skills to successfully manage these risks.
The programme includes modules focusing on managing emotions, distress tolerance, relationship difficulties and the relationship between alcohol and drugs and their offending.
The STURP programme is run in its own unit to encourage a ‘community of change’ environment to be provided 24 hours a day. When the men are not in programme they are expected to learn how to live communally, engage in meaningful activities (eg employment, voluntary activities), participate in community meetings, and take responsibility for the unit in which they live.
TeeJay says the graduates have made some significant changes over the ten months.
“There’s been a definite behavioural change both in the way they behave and the way they think. They have undergone a shift in their attitude allowing them to be more confident about the rest of their lives, and that they need not be controlled by their old patterns.
“The men are able to communicate in a more adaptive way and are able to recognise the key components and triggers that have led to their offending. Most importantly the men are motivated to cease their offending.”
Today’s graduation was marked by programme staff, custodial staff, prison management and prisoners and their families.
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