Briefing to the Incoming Minister December 2017

Message from the Chief Executive

The Department of Corrections is New Zealand’s largest core government agency, leading some of the country’s largest projects.  Detaining people securely in prison, and keeping an eye on those under our management in the community, is just the beginning of our work.

As an organisation, we reach across every aspect of the lives of the people we manage, in every part of New Zealand society. We are involved in education and training, health services and housing, and a vast array of employment areas.

We do this work because, as a community, we don’t want offenders coming back to the criminal justice sector.  We don’t want them to re-offend, and that means we need to help them change whatever part of their lives led them here in the first place.

At any given time, three out of four people Corrections manages are based in the community.  While it will ultimately be up to them to build the lives they want to lead, we can do a lot to help them along the way.  If we can help them change their lives, we will improve the safety of our communities.

It isn’t easy, and there are long-standing challenges.  We are all aware of the significant over-representation of Māori in all stages of the criminal justice system.  Māori have made up approximately half of New Zealand’s prison population for at least the last 30 years. We also know about the significant mental health, addiction, education and employment challenges these individuals face.

My focus is building an organisation that has the capacity and capability to work with offenders in a safe manner and deliver on the outcomes we all want to see.  We have world-leading programmes and interventions to reduce re-offending, designed on evidence of what works.  We know that early interventions have the biggest impact, and produce the greatest reductions in crime-associated costs.

There has been a lot of progress to date, and more to be done.  We have the support of thousands of dedicated front-line staff who come to work each day with the goal of making New Zealand a safer place.

I look forward to what more we can achieve together.

Ray Smith

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