Community support and partnerships
We share a vital connection with our local communities. All of us want to protect the public and help offenders remain crime-free. To achieve this, for each offender we must weigh up their rehabilitation needs against the risks that they pose.
Community work is our most common community-based sentence. In 2015/16 there were an average of 27,078 offenders serving community-based sentences, and over 15,000 of these were community work sentences. Judges can require offenders to do between 40 and 400 hours of community work – so that adds up to a lot of hours in a year. In the 12 months to June 2016, almost two million hours were spent on community work projects across the country.
Work includes a wide range of activities, including gardening, painting, building, picking up rubbish, graffiti clean-up and the general maintenance of public land and buildings.
Strengthening our partnerships to deliver our shared objectives
When offenders are in our care, Corrections works to provide rehabilitative and reintegrative services that will make a difference in their lives. However, the most effective and long term forms of support come from the community that a person lives in. Recognising this, Corrections continues to be involved in a range of activities with other organisations, with the overriding aim of making New Zealand communities more supportive places to live.
Our work has included partnerships with over a hundred organisations, which deliver programmes to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders. External organisations are essential to interventions such as Tikanga Mäori, Family Violence programmes and Drug Treatment Units, as well as many forms of education and training. Working with other organisations enhances the provision of rehabilitative and reintegrative support to offenders, and contributes to building safer and more positive communities.
Corrections has a contract with Housing New Zealand to refurbish around 40 state houses; prisoners are using their construction trade skills at Spring Hill Corrections Facility and Rolleston Prison to complete the houses. Corrections has nine instructors who teach prisoners trade skills in painting, plastering, electricity, carpentry, plumbing and timber joinery. The aim is to have more than 90 prisoners employed.
Habitat for Humanity is a volunteer organisation that builds new homes or repairs homes for those most in need. On 17 June 2016, a single mum with three children received a new house, which was the third built by offenders on behalf of Habitat for Humanity, and has changed the lives of this family.
The Howard League for Penal Reform
The Howard League for Penal Reform were winners of the Corrections Partner of the Year Award for 2016.
Around 70% of prisoners have low levels of reading and writing, and this award recognises the great success the Howard League has had with their literacy and driver licence programmes in New Zealand prisons. The League’s literacy programme is delivered by volunteers, and aims to improve the literacy levels of prisoners.
The Howard League’s Driver Licence Initiative provides offenders the tools and access they need to obtain their driver’s licence. Both of these programmes are designed to provide prisoners tools and skills that can motivate them to turn their lives around and reduce re-offending.
Employer partnerships that open up job opportunities
An employer breakfast took place in Auckland in November 2015, at which around 80 of New Zealand’s biggest employers heard about Corrections’ work to provide offenders with jobs skills. Feedback from this event was extremely positive, with one attendee describing it as “a superb session – great speakers, meaningful messages and realistic targets for New Zealand to work towards. I felt extremely fortunate being there and hope I can in some way help to make a difference.” Following this, future events are being considered for Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton.
Prison Gate to Plate dinners – Visa Wellington on a Plate
The popularity of the Prison Gate to Plate dinners at Rimutaka Prison, as part of Visa Wellington on a Plate, continues to rise. The tickets for this annual event sell out faster than any other for the Wellington on a Plate festival – in a matter of minutes last year. In 2016 we are in our fourth year, and it is encouraging to see how the public has embraced the concept of a prison cooked meal as a sought-after event. The dinners highlight the training and job opportunities available for prisoners, while helping to dispel people’s stereotypes about those behind bars.