Corrections says that new rehabilitation programmes responsive to young offenders and the way they learn will help young people change their futures and make a positive difference to our communities.

“We have a range of activities and interventions for young offenders which aim to keep them engaged, motivate them to turn away from a life of crime and encourage them to be the best they can be,” says Ashley Shearar, Principal Adviser Youth Strategy.

Around 330 people under 20 are in prison and a further 1,300 serving a sentence or order in the community.

For Youth Week 2018 (19 May–27 May), Corrections is acknowledging the work being done with and for young people in prison and on community sentences or orders.

The theme for this year’s annual Youth Week is “Ahakoa te aha, kei a koe te tikanga: Be who you want to be”.

“Many people think that by the time young people come to Corrections it’s too late to make a difference,” says Ashley. “But what research tells us is that late adolescence presents a real opportunity to support these youth to a positive adulthood and motivate them to change their offending behaviour and turn away from a potential life of crime.”

Youth have a unique way of learning and Corrections offers specific rehabilitation programmes targeting offenders under the age of 20, both in prison and in the community. These include the Mauri Tu, Mauri Ora programme and the Mauri Toa Rangatahi (“the power of youth”) programme.

The Mauri Tu, Maori Ora is a new programme run at the Christchurch Men’s Prison Youth Unit. It incorporates a wide range of education, sport, and cultural activities. It is designed to help high risk, violent youth offenders to reduce their risk by developing strategies to manage antisocial behaviours. The Mauri Toa Rangatahi programme helps offenders learn how to change attitudes and behaviours, manage their emotions and develop problem-solving skills.

Chief Custodial Officer Neil Beales says that many young people in prisons and serving sentences in the community have had chaotic upbringings, including exposure to gangs, drugs and violence.

“We know what a difference it can make to the future of young offenders when they feel that there is someone there supporting and believing in them. For some of the young men in our care, our staff can be the only positive role model they have and the work we do makes a real difference.”

Dedicated youth units at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison and Christchurch Men’s Prison provide a positive environment for young prisoners, which are designed to set them up to lead a crime free life when they leave prison.

Youth Champions are available at every prison and Community Corrections site to engage directly with young people. Corrections also works with a number of community partners who support programmes and projects in the community which are targeted to youth.

“Youth are the future of our communities,” says Ashley. “Working effectively with our young people is a start to leading them toward a brighter future where they can support themselves, their families and become positive members of our communities.”

Youth activities around the country:

  • At Northland Region Corrections Facility, Kea Unit supports prisoners under 25 towards positive lifestyle choices, with an emphasis on reducing gang influence. The Unit offers a wide range of activities for young men including sports-based life skills, tikanga Māori, industry, treatment and learning opportunities, art programmes and gym time.
  • Auckland Prison is delivering a Dynamics of Whanaungatanga programme to youth offenders in maximum security. The programme is aimed at changing offenders’ violent behaviour through Māori values, such as restoration, positive relationships and identity, and goal-setting
  • Mt Eden Corrections Facility is running a Back on Track programme to help the safe and sustainable release of youth offenders.
  • At Hawkes Bay Regional Prison’s Youth Unit, eight young men have formed a team to produce and market an anti-bullying book and CD for youth aged 12+ as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) programme.
  • For the seventh year in a row, staff from Levin Community Corrections are mentoring students participating in the Waiopehu College Combined Adolescent Challenge Training Unit and Support (CACTUS) boot camp
  • The Duke of Edinburgh programme has been delivered at Christchurch Men’s, and Hawkes Bay Regional Prison since 2016. Last year the programme was offered at Auckland Regional Women’s Corrections Facility, for the first time. This year, a prisoner at Christchurch Men’s Prison was the first prisoner to receive a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.
  • The new Purapura Whakato O Te Hiringa pilot programme at Whanganui Prison is a 32 week training and qualification programme providing wraparound support to ten Maori male prisoners under the age of 25.
  • Youth managed by Taranaki Community Corrections have collaborated with “Homegrown” youth group to encourage youth serving a community sentence to step up and speak out about youth suicide and mental health, and how it’s ok to seek support.
  • A two year pilot of a new youth-specific Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) treatment programme began this month at Hawkes Bay Regional Prison.
  • Ten prisoners in Christchurch Men’s Prison Youth Unit participated in a marathon, as well as 12 who completed a half marathon, earlier this year as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award and fundraised $400 for Te Whare Hauora.
  • Community work and work and living skills are being tailored to youth in Dunedin. Participants receive a specific youth induction to their work to keep them compliant, engaged and focused on positive goals.

For more information about the rehabilitation programmes and activities for youth in your region, contact Corrections media team at media@corrections.govt.nz or 04 460 3365.