Chief Executive's overview
It’s time to rethink your image of Corrections. There is so much more to us than the stock images of high fences and barred cells. Look closer and you’ll find a diverse range of people, programmes, industries and talents operating within a large and multifaceted organisation.
Three-quarters of offenders serve their sentence in the community. Those who are in prison are expected to participate in industry, treatment and learning programmes that make their time in prison more productive and ensure they come out with a better chance of not returning. On average, prisoners carry out 30 hours of industry, treatment and learning activities each week.
I am particularly proud that the number of prisoners gaining qualifications has risen by 25%, as well as our new initiatives such as the literacy and driver training programmes delivered by the Howard League, secure online learning, the extended drug and alcohol support available and the nearly $14 million we are investing to improve mental health services for offenders.
The vast majority of offenders in the community carry out community work. As well as the more traditional work such as ground maintenance and cleaning graffiti, we have more people than ever before gaining essential life skills aimed at reducing re-offending. Last year 11,500 offenders spent 85,466 hours learning work and living skills involving road safety, parenting, budgeting, gardening and cooking.
Increasingly we are partnering with organisations you wouldn’t usually associate with Corrections. One of the projects from our partnership with the Department of Conservation (DoC) involved re-fitting an old building to house newborn käkäpo chicks. This recovery effort for one of the world’s rarest parrots – there are fewer than 150 left – is not just giving these flightless birds another chance, it’s providing a new perspective and another chance for the people involved too.
Over the last year offenders have helped restore historically significant sites, they have produced thousands of kilos of vegetables and made up bags of kindling to help vulnerable people in their community. Prisoners have trained mobility dogs to help people living with disabilities, made weighted blankets for children with sensory issues, knitted coats and built kennels for SPCA puppies, prepared gourmet dinners for the Rimutaka Prison Gate to Plate event and constructed Habitat for Humanity houses for families struggling to have a roof over their head.
Supporting these offenders is a great team that is committed to reducing re-offending. This year our people ensured no-one escaped from prison. They kept security and public safety at the forefront of the work they do. They were there on the ground to meet offenders returning from Australia, and shared their knowledge across agencies and overseas in Samoa, Vanuatu and Pitcairn Island.
Our people saved lives and changed lives. We are a Department made up of many moving parts, but we are all moving firmly in the right direction – towards a reduction in re-offending.