Across New Zealand, Corrections staff are doubling their efforts to provide offenders with the tools to help them move away from crime.
Gore Community Corrections is the first Corrections centre in the country to trial double delivery of the successful Short Rehabilitation Programme (SRP), with two sessions running over the same time period. “This is an important programme in Corrections’ offender rehabilitation portfolio,” says Gore Service Manager Rachel Henry. “As the programme runs with small numbers of no more than four offenders in a group, being able to deliver two of these programmes concurrently means that we can get more local offenders through the programme in a much shorter time.”
Running one of the sessions later in the afternoon encourages attendance and participation by catering for offenders with employment and childcare commitments.
“This benefits the offenders, their families and the entire community.”
Corrections SRP for Men is for having a medium risk of re-offending assists offenders to challenge the thoughts, attitudes and behaviour that led to their offending, and assists them to develop strategies for maintaining any positive changes.
Traditionally offenders have had to wait months to get on a longer version of this programme, at times completing their sentence prior to a programme becoming available. To mitigate this, the course is now delivered three times a week. The double delivery is proving very effective for staff and offenders.
“Gore is a great place to trial this initiative,” says Rachel. “The staff are extremely committed to making a difference in people’s lives.
“We have a supportive community willing to support people as they make positive change in their lives.”
The programmes are being delivered by programme facilitator Rakei Amohau-Arthur.
“The SRP is challenging for participants,” he says. “It pushes participants to look closely at their offending, its effects on others – their victims, family and the community. The men need to trust each other and be very honest as they work on a plan to keep themselves away from situations that would lead them to further offending.”
Matt* is a 20 year old offender on sentence for drink driving. He was referred to the programme by his probation officer.
He is doing the programme because the Court made him, but he says he’s glad he’s doing it.
“I’m hoping for it to help me understand where my offending comes from and, using the skills from the course, to stop me from re offending,” he says.
“The stuff we are learning also helps with my everyday life. Learning problem solving; everyone has the ability but you don’t really know how to use it until you’ve done the course. I’ve used it a couple of times like trying to get a job, figuring out whether it’s worth it or not, and around drinking with my mates.”
Matt isn’t sure what the SRP will mean for him and his future.
“I’m not sure what I will get out of it. It will help me with my future; a brighter future with me and my family. The course also means I will recognise where I might go wrong before I go wrong.”
The increase in selected rehabilitative programmes is part of the Department’s commitment to improving safety in our communities by reducing re-offending by 25% by 2017.
Both groups are progressing well and have worked on building an environment where they can share personal and often challenging information. The men are constructing ‘offence maps’, where they review the emotions, thinking and behaviour that leads to their offending; learning to manage their emotions and developing tools to help them mitigate the risk of reoffending.
For Matt, it’s already helping him make better decisions.
“It’s definitely been helpful with my day to day life. The sessions are interesting and I look forward to coming to the next one. I look through my book and want to know more,” he says.
Many of the offenders on these sentences are have committed relatively minor offences or they’re first-time offenders.
According to Rachel, the courses are an effective tool for reducing reoffending. “We believe that by providing additional targeted interventions to these groups we can break their potential cycle of offending early on and make a real difference to their chances of remaining crime free post sentence.”
* Name changed to protect the offender’s rehabilitation.
Short Rehabilitation Programme
The Short Rehabilitation Programme (SRP) for Men targets offenders assessed as having a medium risk of re-offending. The key factors targeted for change by Corrections’ SRP are:
- violence propensity
- anti-social attitudes
- offence related problem thinking and feelings
- criminal associates
- poor self-control and impulsivity
- self-management and problem solving skills,
- alcohol and drugs, both a rehabilitation need and a health issue,
- interpersonal skill deficits, and
- relationship difficulties.
The programme is run in small groups of no more than four participants.