Offenders in the community

Maintaining the integrity of sentences and orders served in the community, and holding offenders to account, is our primary focus while ensuring that staff and service providers who work with offenders are safe.

Around three quarters of offenders serving sentences administered by Corrections serve part or all of their entire sentence in the community. This includes those serving home detention, community detention, a range of other community-based sentences and orders as well as those released from prison on parole.

Corrections monitors offenders on a range of sentences

Corrections monitors on average approximately 36,000 offenders per year on community-based sentences. These range from community work to home detention and extended supervision.

Over 40% of sentences served in the community are for community work where we have an obligation to ensure that work undertaken is meaningful. We partner with hundreds of community organisations to deliver approximately two million hours of labour around New Zealand each year.

In order to service community work, Corrections has 151 Community Corrections sites that are equipped to facilitate community work sentences.

Highlights in the 2015/16 year include preparing the grounds at Te Tii Marae for Waitangi Day celebrations and cleaning up the surrounding properties after the Whanganui River burst its banks.

Corrections has also partnered with the Department of Conservation to help maintain conservation sites, upgrade and maintain tracks and help in the war against weeds across the country.

As an alternative to custodial sentences, the Judiciary can sentence offenders to serve a sentence under Electronic Monitoring (EM). Corrections increased the level of GPS monitoring through the 3M contract to 55% (from 5% previously), providing a greater level of information over a larger amount of offender movements.

Corrections is also responsible for ensuring offenders who have served a custodial sentence comply with any post release or parole condition.

Additional demand created by returning offenders

Recent changes in Australia’s visa cancellation policy have resulted in a large increase in the number of offenders being deported to New Zealand after serving a prison sentence.

On 18 November 2015, a supervision regime of offenders who return to New Zealand following a sentence of more than one year’s imprisonment in another jurisdiction came into effect. Corrections is responsible for managing this supervision regime including national coordination, and the prosecution and imprisonment of offenders who breach their conditions.

As at 30 June, Corrections staff managed 172 offenders who had been returned to New Zealand since the supervision regime came into effect. All are subject to returning offenders orders (ROOs), imposed by the courts, that allow Corrections to supervise the new arrivals on conditions similar to parole. More than 300 offenders have returned to New Zealand since the Returning Offenders (Management and Information) Act 2015 came into force. The law change means that Corrections can work with eligible offenders who previously would have returned to the community without the reintegrative support and supervision required to safeguard them and the public.

Sentence types by average number of offenders

Community detention1,7701,9501,7191,6551,600
Community work20,89217,70215,82515,96315,014
Extended supervision192207218226215
Intensive supervision2,5312,4642,3812,5772,867
Home detention1,4691,6101,6181,5571,620
Post detention conditions1,2241,2441,3291,2701,273
Parole / residential restrictions2,3032,3602,4042,4282,301
Post release conditions3,4733,3503,2773,2183,581
Compassionate release00112
EM bail---161430
Returning offender orders----172*

Corrections funds Auckland Prisoners’ Aid and Rehabilitation Society (PARS network) to provide support to offenders released from New Zealand prisons, and increased that funding by $200,000 to support the increase in workload. The funding is used to provide support, which ranges from guidance for applying for a benefit, applications for identification documents and bank accounts, to immediate needs for shelter, food and healthcare.

The services are voluntary and returning offender deportees can choose to take the help or not. Many of the returned offenders will have very little or no support networks within New Zealand.

Re-offending among offenders serving sentences in the community

Re-offending in the community while on a sentence or order may occur. In 2015/16 the rate of re-offending within the 12 month follow-up period, resulting in a reconviction, was at 28%. The reduction in the rate of offenders who committed a new offence while under a home detention sentence was at 7.3%, for offenders on parole it was 19.9%, and for offenders who started a community sentence or order, then committed a new against-the-person offence during the following period of management it was 10.1%. These results are not at our target levels, reflecting the challenges of this year, and efforts are ongoing to improve the management of these offenders. Overall, 82% of community-based offenders complied with their sentences and orders in 2015/16 and 90% of those who did not were held to account.

To aid our probation staff in helping offenders, Corrections has identified Standards of Practice

Ensuring that community-based offenders adhere to the conditions of their sentences or orders and are held to account if they fail to do so is the responsibility of Corrections’ approximately 1,060 probation officers. ‘Being held to account' may range from a warning, through to being issued with a breach (which may result in imprisonment).

We ensure a quality service by setting robust Standards of Practice for the management of offenders in the community, which focus on achieving optimum outcomes for offenders while holding them to account for non-compliance with their sentences or orders, and ensuring completion of sentences. These new standards form part of an Integrated Practice Framework, in which not only minimum standards but layers of quality are described and evaluated. This allows Corrections to acknowledge quality of practice that is over and above the standards, and to give staff and managers constructive feedback is an important feature of the framework.

Cases managed under the Practice Framework will continue to be subject to regular monitoring by the Quality and Performance and Chief Probation Officer teams. This will include ongoing analysis of results in order to identify areas of strength and opportunities for practice improvement. Targeted practice reviews and quality audits are also undertaken to ensure high-risk sentences and orders are meeting compliance and quality practice standards, and that improvement opportunities are maximised.

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