New Zealand’s first specialist prison treatment programme for child sex offenders – Kia Marama, has marked its 20th year of existence.
Kia Marama Principal Psychologist Bronwyn Rutherford says the 60-bed unit, based in Christchurch’s Rolleston Prison delivers group-based treatment within a therapeutic environment for prisoners with convictions for sexual offences against children.
The Kia Marama programme aims to reduce the risk of re-offending for those men who undertake treatment and to increase safety for children in society.
Since its establishment in 1989 more than 900 prisoners have completed treatment. Bronwyn said studies have shown that Kia Marama has been effective, with the unit among the best in the world in reducing re-offending amongst child sex offenders.
“The programme helps offenders identify and understand the factors that led to their previous offending and it teaches them how to manage and control these factors in their daily lives.”
The therapy provided in the unit contributes to making society a safer place to live in by helping the programme participants to understand the consequences of their behaviour on others and to learn to change the way they live their lives.
Bronwyn says one of the biggest challenges the unit faced was actually getting established.
“Establishing prison based treatment programmes for child sex offenders is a major undertaking at any time, but it was particularly noteworthy in 1989 as no one else in the world had established a treatment facility of this type in prison.”
The 20-year milestone at Kia Marama coincides with a biennial open day held on 9 October at the facility where visitors viewed the facilities and learned how psychological treatment is delivered within a prison-based therapeutic community. Groups of visitors were led by unit staff and men who had completed the programme who talked about how Kia Marama had benefited them.
“Allowing visitors the opportunity to discuss offenders’ experience of treatment with them directly means they can see how the programme works – it gives them first hand experience of the very deep changes these men have made to live more positive lives.”
Notes to reporters
• The programme at Kia Marama is primarily designed for offenders nearing the end of their prison sentences
• The highly structured programme lasts for 33 weeks, a significant part of which focuses on prisoner reintegration
• Kia Marama is one of two special treatment units for child sex offenders run by Corrections – the other is the Te Piriti unit at Auckland Prison, which incorporates Maori cultural elements into its programme.
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