The Minister of Corrections, Hon Judith Collins, announced yesterday that Otago Corrections Facility (OCF) is one of three sites that will have a new Drug Treatment Unit (DTU) under the Department of Corrections’ Drug and Alcohol Strategy 2009-2014.
Otago Corrections Facility Manager Jack Harrison says he welcomes the announcement and that it will help OCF prisoners to overcome dependency issues that are often a significant factor in their offending.
“A high proportion of prisoners have a life-long history of drug dependency and a significant amount of crime is committed by offenders who are affected by drugs or alcohol on the day of their offending,” he says.
“It is excellent that we will be able to offer more South Island prisoners an intensive programme that can help reduce re-offending and ultimately make our communities safer.”
The new Drug Treatment Units will be situated at OCF, Wanganui and a prison in the Northern Region. These new units will double the number of prisoners receiving drug and alcohol treatment from 500 to 1000 per year by 2011.
“The six existing DTUs currently run a twenty-four week programme. These DTUs have had great success.
“The Department’s research shows that reconviction rates for those who have been through a Drug Treatment Unit are 13 percentage points lower over a 24 month period than those ‘untreated’ offenders.
“The programme at the new Drug Treatment Units will differ to those offered at the existing DTUs. The new DTUs will run a shorter and more intensive programme designed to help prisoners serving shorter sentences.
“Giving prisoners the opportunity to beat their addictions is one half of the battle, the other is keeping drugs out and restricting their supply. We are winning this battle, our positive random drug tests are their lowest ever at 10.5 per cent across the country.”
The Department’s Drug and Alcohol strategy also gives staff additional training on drug and alcohol dependency and improved drug prevention and detection systems.
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