Corrections News Sept-Oct 2012
Chief Executive's Comment
Last month I met with a number of you to discuss the programme of work we’ve begun in order to achieve our goal of a 25 percent reduction in re-offending by 2017. The action plan enables more opportunities for an offender to address the underlying issues behind their offending and offers more support to steer people toward a crime free life.
I was very encouraged by the level of enthusiasm our plan received. Our colleagues in the justice sector, treatment providers, volunteers and community groups will play an increasingly important role in the work we do.
It was clear that many of these key stakeholders are already very much on board and have been waiting for an opportunity such as this to demonstrate just what can be achieved. I am looking forward to strengthening our partnership with you over the next few months and talking in more detail about promising new ideas and interventions.
This is the first edition of Corrections News since we moved to our new One Team, One Corrections structure. Back in May 2012 I first signalled my proposed changes and on 3 September the Department moved to the new structure.
I’d like to introduce the new members of my wider Executive Leadership Team. Jeremy Lightfoot who has been leading the public private partnership to build a prison at Wiri has joined us as General Manager, Finance, Technology & Commercial and Jo Field joins us as our General Manager Service Development.
What you’ll notice about our new structure is that we have a renewed focus on regional engagement. Our four new regional managers – Jeanette Burns (Northern), Terry Buffery (Central), Karen Petrie (Lower North) and Ian Bourke (Southern) – now have responsibility for prisons, probation and rehabilitation activities in their local areas. They will be working directly with iwi, community groups, employers and agencies to help offenders make a successful transition back nto the community.
At a national level, we’ll also be strengthening our partnerships and working more closely with those in the justice and public sector. Together we can break the cycle of re-offending.
Women motoring ahead
The first group of prisoners to graduate from the Small Motors Engineering course at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility have gained valuable skills that will help them find employment and reintegrate into the community, says Prison Manager Agnes Robertson.
The eight women were acknowledged for their achievements in a ceremony attended by business representatives and other visitors at the prison in August.
“I found the visit very inspirational and was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the skills and ability shown by the graduates.
"The idea of training the inmates for certification in the small engine industry is tremendous, given the lack of younger well-trained people coming through the ranks in this industry.
"I am sure that any of the women will be able to fit in to a career in the industry once they have served their time,” said Masport’s NZ Sales Manager Steve Hawkes.
One Team, One Corrections
The start of September marked the beginning of a new era for Corrections. Before September, our three main service arms of prisons, probation and rehabilitation existed under one department, but operated independently. However, on 3 September 2012 the services officially came together as one cohesive team called Corrections Services.
Dr Brendan Anstiss is the new General Manager Corrections Services and leads this team, which comprises all frontline Corrections staff, including corrections officers, probation officers, case managers, psychologists, programme facilitators, employment instructors and community work supervisors.
This should lead to a more unified end-to-end service for offenders, and will make it easier for staff to work together to achieve our goal of significantly reducing re-offending.
Reporting to Brendan will be an assistant general manager, a director Mäori, a director offender health, and four new regional managers.
The strengthened regional leadership will mean more freedom to come up with local solutions and ideas for improvement, with greater room for decision-making at a local level. While staff will continue to have mandatory national standards they must meet, there will also be greater empowerment for staff to make professional decisions and introduce innovation.
After all, we know that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to rehabilitating offenders. We’re also making it easier for innovations to go from being a good idea to becoming part of what we do and sharing and embedding best practice.
Forging stronger relationships with communities, iwi and treatment providers is crucial to us succeeding in turning people’s lives around, and we will be engaging more closely
with groups across New Zealand, starting with a series of stakeholder engagement meetings across the regions later in the year. We know we can’t achieve our goal of reducing re-offending by 25 percent alone, so we’ll be looking to stakeholders for their ideas and support.
Other key changes to Corrections’ structure include a smaller Executive Leadership Team focused on delivering an integrated strategy across the Department. The Executive Leadership Team has spent time looking at our key priorities for the future, and recently enjoyed a refresher about what it’s like for those on the frontline by each shadowing a staff member for a day.
Service Development is a newly created team within Corrections that will focus on strategy and planning, as well as providing expert advice and professional leadership for our operational teams.
New hope for addicts
On 23 August 2012, Corrections Minister Hon Anne Tolley opened a three-month intensive drug and alcohol treatment programme for segregated prisoners as an expansion to the Hawkes Bay Prison Drug Treatment Unit (DTU).
The intensive programme allows segregated prisoners in a low-security unit to access treatment for their addictions. Previously at Hawkes Bay Prison’s DTU, only a six-month programme was available, and segregated prisoners were not eligible to attend this.
The programme’s three-month duration allows segregated prisoners who are serving shorter sentences the opportunity to attend. The programme will enable the Hawkes Bay Prison DTU to treat an extra 120 prisoners every year.
The opening is part of Corrections’ strategy to increase the range of alcohol and drug services available to offenders. Along with a range of other rehabilitation initiatives, these services will help Corrections to achieve its ambitious goal of reducing re-offending.
Speaking at the opening, Minister Tolley said that 51 percent of crime is committed by people under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
“Tackling drug and alcohol addiction is vital in reducing re-offending and reaching our target of 18,500 fewer victims of crime every year by 2017,” she said.
General Manager Corrections Services Dr Brendan Anstiss said, “Corrections is increasing its efforts in alcohol and drug treatment and this is the first step. Two-thirds of New Zealand prisoners – 65 percent – have a substance abuse problem. By tackling this, we’re giving people a shot at a better life, and in turn we’re giving the people of New Zealand a better community to live in.”
There are DTUs in nine prisons across the country. The DTU programmes allow prisoners to address their long-standing addictions with behavioural therapy, motivation, education, and helping them to build the skills they need to turn their lives around.
Research shows that prisoners who complete a DTU treatment programme are less likely to re-offend than offenders who are ‘untreated’. Also, if the treated prisoners do re-offend, it is likely to be in a less serious way.
CARE NZ Clinical Manager Peter Rijhnen and Residential Manager Alan Rossiter are part of the team bringing new hope to addicts in Hawkes Bay Prison.
Shane* has just entered the three-month intensive programme at the Hawkes Bay Prison Drug Treatment Unit. He’s 24 and has a history of burglary and property damage charges.
Shane was sexually assaulted as a child, and also at the age of 20 by three men in a park. Shane has been a heavy user of methamphetamine and committed his crimes to get the money to continue his addiction.
He’s a segregated prisoner because of his history as a victim of sexual assault. He’s very motivated to complete the programme as he wants to deal with past trauma and move into the future with clarity and dignity.
* Not his real name – some details have been changed to protect privacy.
Class dismissed for drug detection dog duo
Graduating was one of the highlights for Dog Handler Damian Hancock after completing the drug dog training programme in July with Storm, his two-year-old German Shepherd.
Run by the NZ Police at their Dog Training Centre in Trentham, the nine-week course puts handlers and dogs through a rigorous programme of drug detection training to create an effective operational drug detector dog team.
Damian, who is based at Spring Hill Corrections Facility, says the programme was ‘full on’ teaching dogs to find drugs in a variety of settings such as on people, in vehicles, and indoor and outdoor environments.
“Dogs begin the programme by learning to recognise different drug odours like cannabis, methamphetamine and cocaine, which is called imprinting. Imprinting also teaches the dog how to search, the handler how to read the dog’s behaviours, and both learn how to work together as a team.
“You want the dog to learn how to search different areas and objects, from a single letter coming through the mail to large open areas and buildings.”
Damian says Storm has come a long way since graduating.
“She’s doing very well. The course gave her some good basic training, and she’s learnt a lot more since then. Real life vehicles and other environments are a lot harder than training, so makes searching more challenging.”
Damian builds in plenty of training for Storm during the day. “We’re always training, including obedience, often with other dogs who visit the site. We also get a lot of exercise by patrolling the prison’s perimeter.”
As well as detecting for drugs at Spring Hill, Damian and Storm often help out at other prisons in the region.
“We also help the Police with search warrants at suspected drug houses, and occasionally support Customs on big jobs. We work closely with a few other agencies as well.”
So when Storm finds something, what does she get for a reward? “She has a toy in the form of a rolled up tea towel. I replace it when it gets too chewed up and dirty!
“It’s great finding stuff. We’ve had five finds in the last two weeks – mostly small amounts of cannabis. Four were in vehicles and one on a visitor.”
The national Drug Detection Dog Team plays an important role in Corrections’ strategy on reducing re-offending, and keeping staff and prisoners safe. Corrections has 15 drug dogs working across our prisons. Manager Helen Green says, “The dog handlers love to get out and about because being visible acts as a deterrent to those thinking about or planning to bring drugs into prisons.”
Prisoners working and studying hard
More prisoners are in work than ever. The average number of prisoners employed in on-the-job training activities was 3,144 during June, exceeding the target for 3,078 prisoners to be employed by June 2012.
The most recent growth has occurred largely because of the specific efforts to expand employment activities and engage better with remand prisoners.
Not only are higher numbers of prisoners working but prisoners engaged in employment activities achieved more New Zealand Qualifications Framework credits in the last financial year, exceeding all targets and significantly ahead of last year’s achievement (140,599 in 2011/12, compared to 108,080 in 2010/2011).
Training through employment activities is increasingly focused on prisoner employability on release. In the last financial year, 3,145 qualifications were achieved, compared to 2,798 the year before. And, most importantly, trade-related National Certificates or equivalent, are up on last year’s achievements (1,154 compared to 711).
“These results mean more prisoners will get good jobs when they’re released and that translates to reduced re-offending and fewer victims. We’re well on our way to achieving our goal of significantly reducing re-offending.” says National Manager Industry Sectors Brent Maughan.
Jobs change lives
Two recently released women sent grateful letters back to their instructors updating them on their new lives. Both earned qualifications at the distribution centre at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility and are gainfully employed in Auckland in the same industry.
One woman says her time in the distribution centre ‘opened her eyes to the joys of being employed and working in a team’. Her employer says she is ‘friendly, dedicated… and one of his best workers’.
More release to work prisoners in jobs
In the 2011/12 year, 561 prisoners participated in Release to Work (RtW) – a sizable increase of 96 prisoners from the previous year, and all the more impressive considering the tough wider economic climate.
National Manager Industry Sectors Brent Maughan says a database of around 100 prisoners available to participate in RtW means we can offer employers a choice of pre-approved workers.
“We are also working with employers to offer a better service by talking with them to identify any specific needs. For example, an employer may be finding it hard to hire experienced machinery operators, so we can go away and train up prisoners specifically and make them available for RtW with that employer,” says Brent.
Research shows that re-offending within 12 months of a prisoner’s release was reduced by 16.7 percentage points for those who participated in the Release to Work Programme.
Indigenous workshopThe important role of culture in the management of offenders was the biggest message an Australian delegation took away from a three-day indigenous issues workshop in Hamilton.
This year was New Zealand’s turn to host the annual workshop of the CSAC (Corrective Services Administrators’ Council) senior officials’ working group on indigenous issues. The working group comprises representatives from all Australian states and New Zealand and is chaired by the Chief Executive of the South Australian Corrective Services. The group meets to identify focus areas, propose solutions and share best practice to reduce the over-representation of indigenous peoples in corrective services.
Manager Maori Relationships for the Lower North Island, Uarnie More, hosted the working group and said the Australians were blown away with how we incorporate Maori culture into our work with offenders.
“We were able to showcase to other CSAC jurisdictions what we do in New Zealand. Elements of Maori culture were in front of them the entire time. They experienced first hand a powerful powhiri and wero at Te Ao Marama (Maori Focus Unit at Waikeria Prison) and saw how we use the powhiri and wero process to engage better with Maori offenders in the community, their whanau and the wider community,” says Uarnie.
“…the entire week was packed with motivating innovation that firmly placed cultural identity and protocols front and centre of the Mäori rehabilitation experience.” – Richard King, South Australia.
At Spring Hill Corrections Facility the Australians were amazed at the extent of prisoner training and employment, the Pacific Focus Unit and Whare Oranga Ake.
Meg Friel from Northern Territory said, “I was very impressed with the prisoner training that had everything from hospitality, to construction, house painting, horticulture, welding and plumbing. The availability of both the Mäori and Pacific Island focus groups in the same prison shows what is possible if the will is there. I was also impressed with the reintegration accommodation which I thought was post-release but in fact was for people still in custody.”
In a wide-ranging discussion on indigenous issues, many challenges and issues were shared, such as how to overcome barriers to literacy for indigenous offenders. A South Australian study found that 70 percent of prisoners are functionally illiterate, and this rate increases to 95 percent of indigenous prisoners.
Most jurisdictions have low rates of indigenous staff. Uarnie says New Zealand has much higher levels of representation with about 20 percent of our workforce identifying as Mäori. Australian jurisdictions are developing recruitment strategies to boost staff numbers and support the retention and promotion of indigenous staff.
A brief overview was given of the successful implementation of our prison smoke-free policy, which came into effect in 2011. Several Australian jurisdictions are looking at options to introduce the policy. Some have since been in touch and received valuable information about the policy and its successful implementation.
Uarnie says the Australians have an unenviable task ahead to reduce indigenous re-offending. “The environment is harsher, social attitudes are less supportive and Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders are a smaller proportion of society with hundreds of different tribal groupings each with their own language and cultural traditions.”
New Zealand is hosting the full CSAC meeting in November attended by Chief Executives from Australia and New Zealand.
Deviance to directorship: Farewell to David RileyFrom hanging out with counter-culture artists in the 60s, to setting up the Southern Hemisphere’s first prison treatment unit for child sex offenders, to heading Corrections Psychological Services as Director in the 00s – departing Psychological Services Chief Advisor David Riley has a wealth of experience.
Corrections News readers may feel they know David a little from reading his long-running and highly regarded ‘What’s new in the literature?’ column. Read on to learn more about David and his forty years working with offenders.
Did you always plan a career in psychology?
DR: I planned to be an English Lecturer. But I had a school friend whose father was an educational psychologist and he was always interesting, so I took a psychology class in my first year at Canterbury University, and I stayed with it.
CNews: What got you interested in criminal psychology in particular?
DR: My thesis topic in 1970 was psychedelic drug use among youth and I began hanging out with counter-culture figures such as artists Tony Fomison and Philip Clairmont. That got me interested in the field of deviance, and from there I got into offender treatment. Of course, there was no model of offender treatment in 1971 when I started as a Psychologist with the Department of Justice.
CNews: You were instrumental in setting up Kia Marama. Can you tell us about that?
DR: Kia Marama opened in 1989 as New Zealand’s first specialist prison treatment programme for child sex offenders (CSOs). I was the Christchurch Regional Senior Psychologist at the time.
There had been overcrowding in Auckland Prison and they kept sending the CSOs down to Christchurch. CSOs are problematic in a general prison population because the other prisoners don’t like them. So we had a lot of them and it made sense to do something with them particularly as the work of my colleagues had begun to show that higher risk CSOs could be identified.
It’s been a great success and it formed the basis for Corrections’ other Special Treatment Units.
CNews: You were also responsible for developing Corrections’ RoC*RoI Risk Assessment Tool (RoC*RoI = Risk of reconviction/Risk of reImprisonment) for predicting future offending.
DR: Around 1990, research began to emerge that showed we should be targeting high-risk offenders and that targeting low-risk offenders could actually make them more likely to re-offend. So Psychologist Leon Bakker and I used criminal history records from the Wanganui Computer (which at the time held all operational, management and historical information needed by justice sector agencies) to create a risk assessment tool.
In the early days you weren’t allowed to take data electronically from the computer for security reasons so we had boxes full of criminal histories on dot-matrix printout that we had to trawl through; that problem was resolved in 1993 with the repeal of the Wanganui Computer Act.
The RoC*RoI research was the largest investigation of its type; we used 133,000 criminal histories, compared to ‘large’ overseas studies that used 2000. The RoC*RoI has been very useful and accurate – this statistical measure still outperforms the judgements of experts such as psychologists, psychiatrists and parole boards.
CNews: Based on the evidence, what do you think Corrections will need in the future to be more effective?
DR: Prisons and probation services need really comprehensive feedback so they can see if their efforts are having a direct impact on re-offending.
We know that punishing people is the single least effective way to deter negative behaviour, so better ways to reward offenders’ progress would be beneficial. For example, a system of graded privileges that prisoners don’t have to wait too long for.
There’s some very interesting research showing that the quality of reintegration planning is a good predictor for whether or not a prisoner will re-offend. We’re talking 10 – 15 percent gains in reducing re-offending if we can bring about real improvements in this area.
CNews: What does the future hold for you?
DR: I may be undertaking some contract work for government departments. I’ll also be providing a service to barristers working in the criminal justice area, particularly in regard to risk assessment.
A career at Corrections
Working at Corrections is ‘just the job’ for around 7,500 staff. Careers at Corrections will again be profiled in a television programme and careers DVD called ‘Just the Job’ which has been produced by Dave Mason Productions.
The programme is scheduled to be screened on TV2 on Sunday 6 January 2013 at 4.30pm and the same programme will be repeated the following Saturday 12 January 2013 at 9.30am.
In series 7, the roles featured are corrections officers, case managers and offender employment instructors. Series 6 last year featured a psychologist, programme facilitator, nurse, probation officer and community work supervisor.
In the programme, staff talk about their work to a ‘student’ and take the student through real life work scenarios. Staff also play the part of prisoners. It took six days of filming at Spring Hill Corrections Facility for the final 30 minute DVD.
A happy turn of events for one of the students in last year’s series resulted in her being hired by Corrections as a programme facilitator. As a student she had aspired to being a clinical psychologist but on following a programme facilitator during filming, she came to realise that a programme facilitator was a good option for her psychology degree.
All of the programmes show staff putting offenders at the centre of their efforts, and show corrections officers, instructors and case managers working together to this end. They are helping the prisoners to make the right choices and to make changes to their lives in order to stop them re-offending.
Careers at Corrections will get wide exposure because, as well as being shown on television and on international Air New Zealand flights (from next year) the DVD has been distributed to careers advisors in all secondary schools and to all Career Services offices.
“We want school students contemplating a future at Corrections to anticipate what course they may need to take and to make the right vocational choices,” says Principal Adviser Recruitment Bridget Cooksley.