The Minister of Corrections, Hon Judith Collins, announced on 30 July that Wanganui Prison will be one of three sites to get a new Drug Treatment Unit (DTU) under the Department of Corrections’ Drug and Alcohol Strategy 2009-2014.
Acting Wanganui Prison Manager Jan Smith welcomes the announcement and says having a DTU will provide Wanganui prisoners with the opportunity to overcome dependency issues that are often a major 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,” she says.
“It is excellent that we will be able to offer more prisoners in the western and central regions of the North Island an intensive programme that can help reduce reoffending and ultimately make our communities safer.”
The new drug treatment units will be situated at Wanganui, Otago Corrections Facility and one of the prisons 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 24-week programme. These DTUs have had great success,” says Ms Smith.
“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 new Drug Treatment Units will run a programme that is shorter and more intensive than those offered at the existing DTUs. This design enables even prisoners serving shorter sentences a chance to address their drug dependencies.
“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% 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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