Corrections News May-Jun 2012

Chief Executive's comment

 I had the privilege of seeing our newest recruits performing a rousing haka recently.

The 26 new staff thought Corrections should have its own haka so came up with one and debuted it at their graduation ceremony.

It was wonderful, even more so because the graduates hail from across the globe and to see Pakeha, Maori, Samoan, British, Pakistan, Asian and Indian people performing a stirring haka together was very special indeed. I know the men (and one woman) will make an excellent addition to our frontline.

Having the right people and facilities on our frontline is so important and so in March we called for feedback on a proposal to refurbish two of our older prisons and close two of our prisons and nine units that are no longer fit for use.

Consultation closed in April and we are looking at the feedback now. I expect to be ready with a final decision toward the end of May 2012. While there was concern for people’s jobs and the welfare of prisoners, there was also an acceptance that these facilities are no longer up to scratch and we need to either close or refurbish our outdated buildings.

This month I have also been talking to staff about a proposal to move to a joined-up structure with one large service delivery group made up of our three core services – prisons, community probation and rehabilitation.

At the moment, Corrections operates these as three distinct service arms and this creates barriers for offenders who should experience a seamless transition through our services. It also leads to replication of work across the services. Our efforts would be better spent on working together to bring down the rate of re-offending.

The proposal would also make it easier for you to interact with us. As well as having one senior manager who would represent the whole of Corrections in the regions, we would be able to do a lot more local engagement with our communities.

Staff have three weeks to comment on the proposal and I expect to make a final decision by the end of June 2012. Over this time, I’ll be visiting sites around the country to make people aware of the details of the proposal, answer any queries, hear their feedback and ensure they have the support they need.

Change is always challenging, but our priorities are clear. We must take every opportunity every day to lead the effort to reduce re-offending and improve public safety, in a way that delivers improved value for money for all New Zealanders.

Ray Smith

New Zealand prison edition of Bible 'Treasured'

Launching the new NZ prison edition of the Good News Bible: Corrections Rehabilitation and Reintegration Services Assistant General Manager David Wales, Director of the Prison Chaplaincy Service Maku Potae, and (standing) Stephen Opie of the Bible Society.A special New Zealand prison edition of the Good News Bible is destined to become a treasured item for prisoners who are committed to their faith and to making real changes in their lives, according to Director of the Prison Chaplaincy Service, Maku Potae.

The special edition contains the same text as the standard Good News Bible, but with the addition of several colour reproductions of religious-themed prisoner art, and a brief summary of the Bible story. It was produced in association with the New Zealand Bible Society.

“The idea was to create something special for prisoners that uses some of their wonderful art. It is intended to encourage them and show them we appreciate the efforts they are making to turn their lives around,” says Maku.

The special editions of the Bible will be distributed at the discretion of the prison chaplains.

Winning results in Otago

 Otago Corrections Facility (OCF) won the dairy farm section in the Otago Farm Environmental Awards recently.

Judges were on site in Milton in March to view the 120 hectare site, assess the health and wellbeing of the 340 milking cows, and talk to the team there.

Staff were surprised by their selection as finalists given the quality of others in the running, so winning the dairy farm section was outstanding.

Corrections Inmate Employment Area Operations Manager Roger Leslie and the team were delighted by the win. “I didn’t think our operation was anything like what they were looking for,” says Roger. “The judges took a really keen interest in our community orientated approach. We make a point of having our tractors repaired locally, for example, rather than going with national contractors. We donate some of our vegetables to the Salvation Army and we try to get the prisoners involved in every single aspect of farming, right down to taking a professional interest in the somatic cell count* of the stock and the quality of the vegetables. We also try hard to be a good neighbour.”

The judges are peer-reviewers and are constantly trying to improve good farming practice. “They were most excited with how well we engage with the community. We try to be the face of Corrections in the community,” says Roger.

Corrections Inmate Employment Area Operations Manager Roger Leslie with past farm manager Allan Gorton and Principal Instructor Tony Russell having proudly accepted their award. Judging criteria included the management of waterways and water use, energy efficiency considerations, providing for employees and the local community and pest control. Other factors judged were whether land types were matched appropriately and future planning considerations.

The environmental awards celebrate learning as much as winning; they look for a commitment to practical solutions, support for diversity (recognising that there’s never one right answer; it’s about what actually works) and a down-to-earth approach.

Approximately 10-16 prisoners work daily on the farm. Roger says they’re very enthusiastic about the work. “The men see it as a plumb job – outside, milking the cows; getting involved in every aspect of farming life. They also learn to stay calm with the stock,” says Roger.

Roger also said that the awards ceremony, held on 13 April, was a great opportunity to network with farm leaders, and other like-minded folk who care about the environment. Leaders in the rural community have a clear understanding of the need to repair broken and polluted eco-systems but many have not given much thought to repairing broken lives and having them return to the community with skills and pride in their work. This was a great opportunity to get that point across.


*white blood cells, and a marker indicating possible infection. OCF cows have amongst the lowest five percent somatic cell count in the country, indicating excellent farm management.

Closer bonds with Taranaki Whanui ki te Upoko o te Ika

Chief Executive Ray Smith, John Key and other ministers at the Prime Minister’s Forum held recently.One of the first iwi in the country to obtain a Crown accord with government agencies has made substantial progress with Corrections at a workshop held in Wellington in late March. 

The Crown accord ensures that every government agency in New Zealand is required to work with the Taranaki Whanui Iwi in a strategic and meaningful way. For Corrections, this is an opportunity to be seized, as almost half of our offenders identify as Maori.

Some 233 offenders currently in our care identify as being from the Taranaki iwi. Of that number, 86 are prisoners and 147 are completing community sentences.

If successful, a reintegration framework for Taranaki Whanui Iwi is something Corrections would use with other iwi in the future.

The workshop attendees included Sir Ngatata Love and other senior members of the Taranaki iwi; along with Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith and other senior Corrections staff. They agreed upon a vision statement for their work ahead: “Working together and with others, including whanau, to ensure offenders have the skills, knowledge and support to make the right choices to follow a pathway out of offending.”

Having agreed the vision statement, attendees then identified areas of mutual benefit for both parties.

For Corrections, the alliance will see reduced re-offending, safer communities, fewer victims, lower social and economic costs, and a new model of working with iwi. “We are very aware that we can instigate and influence a generational change with the Taranaki whanau iwi offenders,” says Director Maori Neil Campbell.

Benefits for the Taranaki Whanui are also manifold: the creation of employment and education opportunities, the strengthening of cultural identification, a lower ‘social cost’, fewer victims, and the opportunity to reinforce the teachings and learnings from Parihaka*, amongst others.

Creating a Terms of Reference for the working group is a top priority, and Chief Executive Ray Smith and the Trust Chair Sir Ngatata Love expect to receive this by mid-July. The design and development of a reintegration strategy will then follow.

At the Prime Minister’s Forum in early April, Taranaki Whanui was generous in its praise of Corrections and the efforts we have made to date on the Crown accord. “The iwi endorsement was so positive, it couldn’t have been a better meeting for Corrections. For the Prime Minister and Minister Tolley to hear the iwi report back so positively was fantastic,” says Neil.

Sir Ngatata Love acknowledged at the Forum that we urgently need to address the social needs of Maori people. “Our young people have hideous drug and alcohol problems and we are relying on your agency to help us sort that out,” he said. Sir Ngatata asked for his iwi and Corrections to continue to engage. “We want to be part of the solution,” he said.

*Parihaka is a small community in Taranaki, which became the centre of non-violent resistance to European occupation of confiscated land.

Corrections Amendment Bill

 At times the practicality of implementing legislation as it was written, in this case the Corrections Act 2004, reveals barriers to the effective and efficient achievement of its purpose. The Corrections Amendment Bill, currently before the Law and Order Select Committee, has been introduced to remove barriers identified by staff as obstacles to the safe, secure, humane and effective management of prisoners.

The Bill includes provisions dealing with:

Waterloading – currently some prisoners ‘waterload’, which means they drink a lot of water to intentionally dilute their urine samples when they are being tested for drugs.
The bill makes it a disciplinary offence to consume, administer or supply any substance with the intent of diluting any sample.

Strip searching – currently some provisions relating to strip searching are unclear or introduce unnecessary delays, for example requiring approval of a prison manager before strip searching a prisoner reasonably believed to be in possession of an unauthorised item. The delay can give an opportunity to the prisoner to dispose of the items in the meantime.

The amendments in the Bill will provide greater clarity on the process for strip searching. This is expected to significantly improve our ability to deal effectively with contraband in prisons as well as items intended to cause self-harm.

Contract prisons – managers of privately run contract prisons are expected to carry out all aspects of prisoner management. However, they are constrained by the fact that the Chief Executive of Corrections cannot legally delegate powers and functions to their organisation. The Bill will enable this to occur. Importantly, delegating does not affect the Chief Executive’s ultimate responsibility for the actions of those acting under the delegation.

Prison health – current legislation places contracted part-time medical officers at the forefront in the delivery of health care to prisoners. In reality, this key role is fulfilled by full-time health centre managers, who are registered nurses employed by prisons. The role of health centre manager will be recognised in law, while retaining the requirement to ensure that prisoners have treatment from medical practitioners when required.

Self-employment skills – gaining work skills and a work ethic is an important part of preparing offenders for release back into the community. The Bill will allow prisoners to gain self-employment skills in prison, for example in carving or other art work. It provides a process whereby deductions can be made from self-employed prisoners’ earnings, enabling them to contribute towards their board and other payments such as child support and reparation.

A companion piece of legislation, the Administration of Community Sentences and Orders Bill, seeks to remedy problems affecting Community Probation Services’ practice. However, this legislation is not as far along in the legislative process. 

How a Bill becomes law

There are several stages that a Bill (proposed law) passes before becoming an Act of Parliament. These stages ensure that a Bill is subject to public debate and scrutiny. Some of these stages also provide an opportunity for a Bill to be changed. This Bill is before the Law and Order Select Committee, which is required to report back to the House by 28 August. Public submissions closed on 12 April.

Meet the man behind the Offender Volumes Report

David Harpham is the author of the Offender Volumes Report which looks at trends in the offender population.The third edition of the Offender Volumes Report (OVR) was published on the Department’s website in March. The report presents information about the offender population managed by the Department, and helps us plan and develop policies that meet the demands for prison and Community Probation Services. 

William Pollard, a 20th century American physicist, once said that information is a source of learning. But unless it is organised, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.

Today’s technology allows you to churn out information with a click of a mouse, yet the Offender Volumes Report has taken its author, David Harpham, countless hours perfecting the underlying data set.

It was through David’s passion for producing something meaningful and cohesive, and that readers could easily understand, that the Offender Volumes Report was born in 2007, replacing the labour-intensive biennial prison census.

It’s a gift, or perhaps even art, when someone can make numbers and data come alive. David has worked with Corrections since 2003, and is currently Corrections’ Principal Strategic Analyst. Since publishing the Census of Prison Inmates and Home Detainees in 2003, one of his key focus has been the Offender Volumes Report, tweaking and fine tuning how the data is collated.

“It’s taken me a long time, but I’m happy with what I’ve achieved, and I hope people find it useful,” says David.

The report looks at trends in the Corrections’ managed offender population and shows the impact that justice sector policies have had on that population.

New Zealand is unusual in being able to publish such an offender-centric report. David puts this down to New Zealand’s early adoption (1976) of electronic record keeping for criminal justice and reasonably good identity management. Undoubtedly, his efforts at bringing the data together have played a large part as well.

Recently David has been improving a new tool, the Offender Timelines Viewer, which provides a graphical view of individual offenders and their associated management periods and conviction histories. When fully up and running, the Offender Timelines will become a valuable tool for Corrections, helping us to see how well our programmes have worked, and understand our risks, while keeping individual offender pathways in focus.

As well as exploring possible applications of the offender data sets with other government agencies, the Strategic Analysis and Research team are working on other initiatives, including a Maori Offender Volumes Report, and a Female Offender Volumes Report.

“The Offender Volumes Report is just a beginning and only scratching the surface of the knowledge value possible.   All I can say is watch this space!”

So what does OVR 2011 show?

  • The average age of prisoners is increasing.
  • The proportion of prisoners held on remand has grown steadily over the last 13 years.
  • The number of offenders serving a community sentence or order has increased markedly over the last three decades.
  • Prisoners serving long-term sentences (greater than two years) account for the majority of the increase in the prison sentenced population over the last two decades.
  • Community sentences in 1980 were largely imposed for burglary. Now such sentences are dominated by ’good order’* offences, with sentencing for low end assault and intended harm also becoming more important.
  • Prison sentenced muster in 1980 was mostly short stay burglars, but now muster is very much more about long stay sex offenders, violent offenders and drug supply chain offenders.

Go to Research – Offender Volumes, on the Department’s website; www.corrections.govt.nz

* Examples of good order offences: trespass, riot, disorderly/offensive behaviour, language, conduct, property damage, arson, weapons offences, inciting hatred, cruelty to animals, liquor, tobacco, gambling offences, traffic offences: excessive speed, driving while intoxicated, driving while disqualified/without licence, offences against justice: breach of bail/community sentence/parole, subvert course of justice.

Minister's column: Hon Anne Tolley

 I had the pleasure of making a significant Budget 2012 announcement at Rimutaka Prison recently, along with the Associate Corrections Minister, Hon Dr Pita Sharples.

I believe it will change the shape of rehabilitation in New Zealand. 

As part of the Prime Minister’s expectations for a more efficient and results-driven public service, there will be a 25 percent reduction in re-offending by 2017, and 18,500 fewer victims of crime every year from 2017.

From 2017, there will also be 600 fewer prisoners in jail than in 2011, and 4,000 fewer community offenders – over and above forecasts.

To help achieve this, Budget 2012 reprioritises funding of $65 million in operating expenditure over the next four years.  This will be used to boost alcohol and drug treatment, increase education and skills training and also increase access to employment programmes.

There will be:

  • 33,100 additional offenders receiving new and expanded drug and alcohol treatment in prisons and in the community (an increase of almost 500 percent).
  • 7,855 additional prisoners and community offenders receiving new and expanded rehabilitation services (a 230 percent increase).
  • 2,950 additional prisoners in education and employment training (a 30 percent increase).
  • 7,500 prisoners and community offenders to be supported to find real jobs, in new partnerships with employers and industry.
  • 41,100 community offenders receiving new rehabilitation support provided directly by probation officers.
  • 4,120 prisoners and community offenders in new rehabilitation services delivered in partnership with iwi and community groups.
  • 6,000 prisoners and community based offenders accessing new reintegration support programmes from iwi and community groups.

For the first time, remand prisoners, who currently make up around a quarter of the muster, will have access to these programmes.

This work is important because it addresses the major drivers of crime – addiction and lack of education – while giving offenders better work skills to make a positive contribution to society.

It will also result in less pressure on the justice sector pipeline and is good news for the taxpayer. It costs $90,000 every year to keep a prisoner incarcerated – and we will have 600 fewer prisoners every year by 2017. 

So this is common sense. Lock them up and throw away the key may sound good. But most prisoners get released. If we can rehabilitate them while they are in prison or on community sentences, the whole country – communities and taxpayers – will benefit.

Hon Anne Tolley
Minister of Corrections

Busted!

Drug Dog Handler Bill Taylor and Barney.Drug Dog Handler Bill Taylor was doing routine checking duties at Northland Region Corrections Facility with his dog when he stopped a woman driver. Bill’s dog Barney immediately detected a drug odour near the driver’s seat. Although nothing was found in the vehicle, Bill interviewed the woman who admitted she was in possession of drugs but it was not in a convenient hiding place to hand over seemingly.

Under supervision of a female corrections officer the visitor produced a glad wrapped package containing cannabis and cigarette papers.

The woman declined to say what she had intended to do with the drugs but it is likely she would have attempted to pass it to the prisoner she was visiting. Instead, the items were confiscated and she was arrested by Police and taken away to face the consequences of her actions including the fact that her vehicle WOF and registration had expired.

What's new in the literature

New research highlights the importance of release planning in desistance from crime.

A great deal of research over the last 30 years has clearly demonstrated that specific types of treatment programmes, targeted towards high risk offenders, reduce rates of further re-offending. The fact remains, however, that even those people who have received intensive high quality treatment still re-offend at disappointingly high rates.

Recently, researchers have more closely examined the process of desistance from crime. This has highlighted the fact that many prisoners re-enter the community poorly equipped to manage this process with significant difficulties in the areas of accommodation, employment, financial resources, freedom from anti-social peer influences, and lacking in pro-social support. As a consequence, there has been an increasing emphasis on the reintegration process, and particularly the role of release planning in assisting those exiting prisons to assume non-offending and socially responsible lifestyles.

In a recently published study1, Dickson, Polaschek, and Casey from the School of Psychology at Victoria University examined the relationship between the quality of release planning and re-offending and reimprisonment among men who had attended the Intensive Violence Treatment Programme which operates at Rimutaka Prison. Previous research had indicated that this programme was effective for high risk offenders, but this most recent investigation went further in examining whether the quality of release planning had the potential to impact positively on these offenders’ transition to a non-offending lifestyle.

Material held on file was reviewed, and in particular the quality of release plans was assessed using a structured approach which rated the specific elements related to accommodation, employment and training, pro-social support, the avoidance of anti-social associates, the quality of the release environment, and the total plan score.

Detailed statistical analyses indicated that the quality of the release plan made a significant contribution to successful rehabilitation, and an assessment of the total ‘quality score’ derived from the structured assessment was in fact as good a predictor of survival in the community as other well-documented and effective risk measures such as the risk of reconviction and risk of reimprisonment score.

Taken in its entirety, this piece of research reinforces the emphasis which Corrections has placed on the reintegrative process in recent years and also provides good evidence in support of the attention which the New Zealand Parole Board pays to release planning when making its decisions concerning prisoner release.

1 Dickson, S., Polaschek, D., and Casey, A. (2012) Can the quality of high-risk violent prisoners’ release planning predict recidivism following intensive rehabilitation? A comparison with risk assessment instruments. Psychology, Crime and Law, 1-19.

Prison singing competition

Prison choirs provide music for church services in prison.Singing groups from Whanganui and Manawatu prisons sang their hearts out in a ‘sing-off’ competition held at Whanganui Prison. The idea for the competition was sparked by the film, ‘Choir’, about an annual choir competition between all the prisons in South Africa. On a much smaller scale, the chaplain at Whanganui Prison, Sister Litia Vakameitangake issued a challenge to the Manawatu Prison chapel singing group to a ‘sing-off‘competition.

Each group had to prepare and perform four songs; an original song written by one of the group, a song in a non-English language, a song by a New Zealand composer and a traditional worship song.

Five men from Manawatu Prison were taken to Whanganui Prison and the competition, against the local choir of six, was held in the prison’s gymnasium. Prison volunteers and some local staff attended as the audience. There were four judges and in a very close competition the Whanganui choir took first place.

“We (chaplains) have always encouraged music activities and the chance of a ‘sing-off’ was seen as a way of challenging the men involved. This was well supported by the managers of the two prisons,” says Manawatu Prison Chaplain Graeme Bates.

The music group from Manawatu Prison provides the worship music for all the church services held in the chapel on Sundays. The Whanganui group meet regularly and under the supervision of the chaplain practise and develop their individual and group skills.

Much of the teaching and some song writing comes from the men themselves.

Being involved in a singing group, either in prison or in the community, means participants have to work as a group, communicate well and commit to rehearsals. For prisoners it is a chance to use and discover skills and talents.

Change has come - Probation practice redesign complete

 Community Probation Services (CPS) has completed a groundbreaking three-year programme of work to redesign frontline practice so staff can more effectively work with offenders.

More than 2,400 probation staff around the country now work within the Integrated Practice Framework (IPF) that guides them in doing the right thing, at the right time, with the right offender, while meeting all mandatory standards.

These expectations apply to all nine sentences and orders; extended supervision, parole, release on conditions, home detention, post detention conditions, intensive supervision, community detention, supervision, and community work. That covers around 36,000 offenders in the community at any one time.

General Manager Katrina Casey says that the first thing done when the change programme was launched in 2009 was to define CPS’ purpose. “This purpose focused us on holding offenders to account and managing them to comply with their sentences and orders, reduce their likelihood of re-offending and minimise their risk of harm to others.

“This guided all the design work we’ve done to develop the new mandatory standards and supported decision frameworks for different sentences and orders. Staff are clear that everything they do must relate to one or more elements of our purpose.”

“The change programme has had unprecedented support from staff from the start,” says Change Programme Director Helen Hurst.

Where do we see the change?
For staff, the redesign has meant having the ability to apply their professional judgement to managing offenders as individuals, says Chief Probation Officer Astrid Kalders. “We spend more time with those who pose a higher risk because research shows that’s where we can make the biggest difference.

“We’ve got rid of a vast prescriptive, procedure-bound operations manual in favour of an online practice centre that supports staff in making professional decisions for individuals. And we’ve given staff the tools to identify and assess an offender’s overall risk – both of re-offending and of causing harm to others. We expect them to use the supported decision framework to weigh up information and decide what action they will take.”

Our change programme has made a difference to offenders too by enabling us to manage all offenders as individuals – not just according to the specific sentence or order they are subject to.

Where appropriate, we link in with the offender’s whanau and other support people to make the most of the positive influence they can have. Offenders know they will be held accountable if they don’t comply; they also know we’ll use all the tools at our disposal to help them stay offence-free.

Ultimately we expect the wider community to benefit from this new way of working as we succeed in contributing to public safety by doing the right thing with the right offender at the right time. Across all sentences, our performance statistics show some real improvements in meeting our mandatory standards. These are published monthly under the Facts and Statistics section of our public website www.corrections.govt.nz

What’s next?
With the practice redesign complete, the focus is now on continuous improvement, particularly on the quality of our practice and professional decision making. CPS is also now working towards the next step towards a safer New Zealand with a programme to modernise its service delivery. This time the focus is on delivering value for money by ensuring the best use of our resources, and using new technologies to maximise the effectiveness of our interactions with offenders. 

CPS’ purpose is to contribute to safer communities by holding offenders to account and managing them to:

  • comply with their sentences and orders
  • reduce their likelihood of re-offending
  • minimise their risk of harm to others.

An online practice centre replaces a vast operations manual and supports staff in making professional decisions.

Celebrating Volunteer Awareness Week 2012, June 17-23

“Ann the art lady”; supporting rehabilitation at Karaka Unit

Volunteer Art Tutor Ann Byford with prisoner art work from an exhibition entitled Recognise, Respond, Reflect II.The Karaka Special Treatment Unit at Waikeria Prison delivers treatment programmes for men with a high risk of re-offending in a serious and violent manner. Therapy is supported by employment training, music and, since September 2011, an art programme, delivered by professional artist and volunteer Art Tutor Ann Byford.

How did you get into volunteering at the prison?
Ann Byford: I read a pamphlet for the Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society and felt volunteering was the right thing to do. Teaching art in a prison environment was new for me, but I’ve always been surrounded by art and had a career in engineering so I feel comfortable doing hands-on work with men.

How do you introduce yourself to the prisoners?
At the beginning of each programme I show them my portfolio of work and that leads to respect. Everyone gets to meet each other and they begin to relax – the cup of tea is always good!

What benefits does the art programme bring to prisoners?
Art helps relieve tension and makes them more open to what they learn in therapy. The men write about their art experience which becomes an installation work alongside their end-of-programme exhibition. They learn to start something and follow it through to completion, to meet deadlines, to take criticism and work with others.  They learn to use their ‘out of therapy’ time in constructive ways which is useful for when they reach release. I emphasise the use of free or recycled materials so they can make art inexpensively – for example painting on an old record, or using thick curtain material as canvas.

The end-of-programme exhibition is a reflection of the men’s stories. Their work is displayed in the visitor’s room and the feedback has been great.

Can art programmes lead to formal education?
Yes, I’ve had men going on to tertiary level study. Completing the art programme gives them the confidence that they can succeed as well as finished works to show in their applications.

What do you get out of volunteering?
When I’m teaching, I’m learning, so it’s useful for me as an artist. Also, I know I’ve broken barriers down for these men. Many of them didn’t get a chance in childhood to explore curiosity and delight in their senses. It is rewarding seeing men from the previous class spend time with and mentor the next class.

What qualities does a prison volunteer need?
You need to be consistent and maintain your enthusiasm. You mustn’t have too many expectations. Funding is limited and resources scarce, so don’t let that get you down.

I always give a written report to the volunteer co-ordinator, programme facilitator and the principal psychologist so they can see the class progressing. I encourage staff to visit the art room; they offer constructive criticism which is valuable to the men.

MECF staff have finger on the pulse

Jenni Framhein in the CSI Unit engaging with vulnerable prisoners at MECF.Two valued team members from Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF) are being recognised for outstanding achievement at the Serco Global Pulse Awards in London in May.

Serco’s Pulse Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding achievement by MECF staff. They are held regionally and then the winners go to the Global Awards in London.

Corrections Officer Melinda Hyland and Psychiatric Nurse Jenni Framhein, both work in the Care, Support and Integration (CSI) Unit at MECF. The Unit runs a therapeutic model for at-risk prisoners and boasts a zero rate of self-harm incidents since it was set up when UK-based Serco took over the management of MECF in May 2011.

The CSI Unit offers an integrated and tailored form of care for vulnerable prisoners. A therapeutic environment and individualised treatment helps prisoners deal with learning, physical disabilities and/or mental health issues.

Custodial officers, health specialists and programme team members are all co-located within the Unit, so that programmes, activities and interventions are all delivered on site. This allows vulnerable prisoners to actively participate in prison life during the treatment stage.

The CSI team consists of two pyschiatric nurses, a social worker, psychologist, custodial officers, healthcare assistants, Auckland Regional Forensic Services (Mason Clinic) staff and a therapy dog, who makes regular visits.

One particular success story is a prisoner who is well-known throughout New Zealand prisons and to Accident and Emergency departments as he has been a chronic self-harmer for many years and as a result has permanent organ damage. 

“He has been resident with us for some months now and is settled, enthusiastic and has not attempted to self harm once. Furthermore, he continues to strongly state that he has no intention to do so. It’s evidence to us that the therapeutic model really works,” says Jenni.

When the CSI was introduced, Jenni had doubts about being able to put the team’s ideas into action. “I admit it was outside the square for me; I’d only known one way of doing things.”

Jenni now feels really positive about the CSI unit and has been amazed at the results and the dramatically reduced rate of self-harm.

In April, MECF Prison Director Steve Hall attended the inaugural meeting of the Stakeholder Relationship Group at Corrections’ National Office. The meetings are designed to look at innovations and how they are shared with Corrections. Steve spoke about the CSI innovation at this meeting and presented other concepts that Serco have designed to improve outcomes for prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration.

These include improved fitness and wellbeing programmes, in-house tattoo removal, safes for prisoners’ personal medication and innovations in rostering and court services such as the use of audio visual links and prisoner kiosks through which prisoners can access information, enrol in programmes, order items from the Canteen and book visits.

Complex data, simplified

Chart produced by i2.Manually sifting through large quantities of data to identify suspicious activity is a time consuming task for intelligence analysts. 

However, an analytical software application, used by many corrections jurisdictions and the law enforcement community, can quickly identify connections, patterns and trends and presents the information in a visual chart for easy reference.

In February, Corrections’ operational intelligence analysts attended training in the i2 data mapping application which has recently been installed in our system. i2 is a software application that enables easy visual representation of intelligence data, demonstrating links between people and locations. In short, it assists analysts to simplify complex data.

i2 is used in conjunction with the Corrections’ Secure Intelligence Database (SiD) and makes sense out of large volumes of information by identifying trends and relationships.

Assistant National Intelligence Manager John Munro says it can take an average of 40 hours to extract and sort information within SiD and the Prisoner Telephone Monitoring System and convert this into useful information. “By interpreting the information faster we can provide prompt intelligence and this means increased safety and security for both staff and prisoners,” says John.

“The really useful feature of i2 is the way it can provide an easy to read visual chart. It means we can assist prison managers to make quicker decisions about how to manage a particular situation.”

For example, i2 can identify common telephone numbers used by prisoners to source drugs and other contraband items from within the community.

The ability to view the gang landscape within a prison site helps to disrupt the control and influence a gang may have.

Transferring prisoners around the prison system is high risk but with i2 prison managers can now view a network diagram that shows connections, both within the prison and in the community.

A built-in Google Earth function allows Operational Intelligence analysts to ‘geo-code’ events and incidents, quickly drawing attention to hotspots within a prison.

“Various corrections environments use i2 so we know we are using software that is proven to be successful in identifying criminal activity and supporting the operational stability of a prison,” says John, who used this software when he worked in the Scottish Prison Service, as the National Intelligence Manager. “It is a basic intelligence tool.”  

Waharoa

 A waharoa (carved gateway), carved by four carvers at Auckland Prison, was unveiled at Northcross Intermediate on Auckland's North Shore in April, providing a visual cultural identity for the school.

A waharoa (carved gateway), carved by four carvers at Auckland Prison, was unveiled at Northcross Intermediate on Auckland's North Shore in April, providing a visual cultural identity for the school.