A Special Treatment Unit that provides rehabilitation to prisoners who are at high risk for serious re-offending was formally opened in Christchurch Men’s Prison today.
Corrections National Manager Special Treatment Units, Steve Berry, says participants in the Matapuna Special Treatment Unit have a high risk of re-offending and have about 70 convictions per person on average for a range of crimes, usually including at least one violent offence.
Matapuna provides two group-based programmes for male prisoners – the Adult Sex Offender Treatment Programme for sexual offences against adults, and the Special Treatment Unit Rehabilitation Programme for prisoners with a range of other convictions.
“Given the entrenched nature of their attitudes and behaviours, offenders spend about nine months in the Special Treatment Unit (STU) examining their offending, developing goals for living an offence-free lifestyle when released from prison and learning new skills.
“Participants need to discover the patterns and the bad habits that have led them to return to offending. They must also recognise the effect their crimes have had on others and face up to what it is going to take to stay away from offending in the future.
"Once they recognise the factors behind their offending they then must learn methods to manage their behaviour in high risk situations and develop a plan of how to use these skills, to avoid offending and live a more pro-social lifestyle.
Steve says the treatment also involves working with offenders to develop positive ways of interacting in relationships such as communication, conflict resolution, and perspective taking – teaching them to put themselves in other people’s shoes.
Matapuna is the last of three new STU units to be built - joining Karaka at Waikeria Prison and Puna Tatari at Spring Hill Correctionas Facility and bringing the total number of STUs to six.
“One of the successes of the new STUs is the high number of M‚ori who have accessed treatment. As at March 2010, 211 new starts were recorded for the three new STUs, of these, 109 (52%) identified as M‚ori.
Other specialist rehabilitation units include five M‚ori Focus Units, a Pacific Focus Unit, a Faith Based Unit and six Drug Treatment Units, with three more planned to open by 2011.