Corrections Works June 2015

From our Chief Executive

Chief Executive Ray SmithWhen I talk to people about our aim to move all our prisons to be working prisons by 2017, I am reminded by some of our longer-serving staff that working prisons are not new; back in the day all prisons were working prisons.

A hundred years ago, all prisoners had a job. Most were sentenced to hard labour, which involved quarrying rock, road building, firewood cutting or brick making. Women and children prisoners picked oakum (the tar-covered rope that was used on ships).

Those not sentenced to hard labour were given work within the prison, which usually meant working in the laundry or kitchen, making or mending clothes, and cleaning. Our concept of what constitutes a working prison has changed considerably since then. While these tasks have counted as work, the intent was more about punishment than rehabilitation.

Today, a working prison is a place of industry, learning and treatment, a place where a person can receive the help and skills they need to steer clear of crime for good when they get out of prison.

In Corrections Works this month we feature Out of Gate, a service that supports people as they leave prison. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to secure funding for Out of Gate for another 12 months.

It’s not just about those in prison. We want to lift the overall participation rates of all offenders in rehabilitative programmes, including those on community-based programmes. One of these is a new Community Family Violence Programme. This collaboration between Corrections, Police and the Ministries for Women, Social Development and Justice makes sense. Working in these organisations we see the enduring damage that violence inflicts on families. We can also see the need to take action against this now, for the generations to come.

Ray Smith

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Working prisons expands

Instructor Julie Deighton and Principal Corrections Officer Terry Whittle meet regularly to discuss prisoner management and plan training for more prisoners.The working prisons philosophy has been growing and evolving since the initial implementation at the three pilot prisons in 2012.

Rolleston, Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility and Tongariro/Rangipo were the first prisons to begin operating as working prisons. From July 2014, the rollout of the next four working prisons began at Northland Region Corrections Facility, Spring Hill Corrections Facility, Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison and Otago Corrections Facility. These prisons have helped inform the rollout of further sites and the concept has now developed into a mature framework which is currently being rolled out at the 16 Corrections-run prisons around the country.

In a working prison every eligible prisoner is engaged in education, training, employment programmes or constructive activity as part of a structured 40-hour week. There is no ‘standard’ day at a working prison, as each prisoner’s day is targeted towards what they need the most – whether that is studying towards qualifications, learning a trade or attending rehabilitation programmes. Whatever their day looks like, most prisoners are active 40 hours a week rather than sitting in their cells or hanging out in the exercise yard.

Working prisons are a key way that we will reach our target of reducing re-offending by 25 percent by 2017. The more people we engage and give the skills, experience and qualifications they need to turn their lives around, the less likely they will be to re-offend and return to prison or serve a community sentence. They will be better parents, partners and contributing members of their communities. This will ultimately lead to a safer New Zealand for everyone.

By the end of June 2015, all departmental prisons will be well on the way to operating as working prisons.

Concrete skills at Whanganui Prison
Instructors like Julie Deighton are working all over the country to teach prisoners marketable skills.Whanganui Prison is well on its way to achieving working prison status. Julie Deighton is an instructor in the concrete yard at Whanganui Prison, and a member of the prison’s Working Prison Implementation Team. When you meet Julie, her passion for her job and the care and dedication she has for the prisoners she works with is evident. She has up to 24 prisoners in her care for eight hours a day, five days a week.

The men she works with are keen to make her proud. She supports them in a positive way to ensure they have the best possible opportunity to change their lives so they can live offence free when they are released. To do this, Julie not only teaches the men a trade, but engages with themand encourages them to participate in the programmes, education, training and employment opportunities available to them in the prison.

“Knowledge is learning and learning is knowledge,” says Julie. “I think if you show passion for work or studies, hopefully it rubs off on others. I do a lot of study in my spare time; horticulture is my passion and I am happy to share what I learn with my prisoners so they can gain extra knowledge of things outside the concrete yard.

“I really enjoy seeing the men progress and learn new skills, and see the light bulb go on in their heads when they realise that what they are learning can make a difference to their lives when they leave prison.” 

Expanded Out of Gate services to reduce re-offending

Taiana Anderson, Out of Gate Programme Manager for Family Works Central (also known as Presbyterian Support Central) works with an offender at Arohata Prison.Corrections’ Out of Gate service has received a funding extension from the Justice Sector fund for another 12 months.

Out of Gate providers work with short-serving prisoners and remandees to help them reconnect with their families and community when they are released from prison. The work begins inside prison and continues once they are released.

This is a vital service for offenders; one of the most vulnerable times for a prisoner is leaving prison and trying to piece their life back together. They may have lost a job and their home, they may have little money, their relationships may have broken down, and they may have lost contact with their family and support networks.

Our Out of Gate providers often meet prisoners at the gate when they are released. They support offenders through every aspect of their reintegration into the community, from doctor’s appointments, setting up bank accounts, to supporting them to continue with their rehabilitation and treatment programmes and helping them to write CVs.

Early indicators suggest that Out of Gate is working by helping offenders reintegrate more easily.

When Out of Gate was launched in 2013, Corrections’ aim was to reach 4,000 individuals with the service in a two year period. By May 2015, we have had 3,533 referrals to the standard Out of Gate service, and 503 to the intensive service. That’s 4,036 referrals so we are on the right track.

Presbyterian Support is one of our Out of Gate providers; they work with offenders at our three women’s prisons: Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility, Arohata Prison and Christchurch Women’s Prison. The benefits of their service go beyond the offender; it also helps a family who will benefit from a mum who won’t go back to prison, and who has the support she needs to make their life better. This is what breaks the cycle of re-offending and makes a real difference in the lives of all New Zealanders.

Our other Out of Gate providers are Goodwood Park Healthcare Group, CareNZ, Healthcare of New Zealand Ltd, and the National Urban Maori Authority.


Amanda’s* baby boy was born one week before she was released from prison.

Now, with support from Family Works and others, mother and son are thriving in a healthier environment. Amanda is one of the women benefiting from Presbyterian Support’s Family Works’ new Out of Gate service.

She lives in a community house and attends a parenting course and is determined to do what’s best for her baby son. Amanda hopes to eventually help prevent other young people going down the same path she did. “I want to do what I can to help break the cycle.”

*Not her real name.

Staff safety update

The new, safer reception counter at the new Upper Hutt Community Corrections site, which was officially opened by the Minister of Corrections in May.The safety of our staff is of paramount importance to Corrections.

We’re reaching the beginning of Year Three of our Staff Safety Plan, so now’s a good time to update you on the new and continuing initiatives we’re implementing to keep our staff safe from assaults.

New security elements at Community Corrections sites:
We are introducing security enhancements to 13 Community Corrections sites to help staff stay safe. Enhancements include electronic entry on internal doors, duress alarms, and remote access control to the main entry.

We’re also putting in new reception counters that feature a perspex pelmet above the counter and anti-roll fins to impede anybody who tries to get across the counter.

Site Emergency Response Team pilot:
From April 2015, we began piloting a new Site Emergency Response Team at Spring Hill Corrections Facility. The team is on site at all times during high security unlock hours, and when not responding to emergencies, provides proactive support to staff.

With a high level of training and quick access to a wider range of equipment, which is kept in a special vehicle, the team bridges a gap between the immediate response tactics available at a prison site, and those provided by Advanced Control and Restraint (ACR) teams who come in to manage very serious incidents.

“Many prisons in Australia, Canada and Europe have similar teams so we’re keeping up with international practice,” says Principal Custodial Adviser Leigh Marsh. Nine experienced staff were recruited for the team, which consists of four corrections officers and a senior corrections officer on duty at a time.

Managing Safety in Community Training:
This extensive training package has now been delivered in all our Community Corrections sites around the country. The training package covers situational awareness, de-escalation techniques and physical tactics for staff to Principal Custodial Adviser Leigh Marsh in the new stab resistant body armour.extricate themselves from an assault.

The package was designed in modules so a manager can revisit any of the modules with their team as a refresher.

New stab resistant body armour:
All frontline custodial staff are to get new, more lightweight, less bulky, and more comfortable stab resistant body armour to help keep them safe in high risk areas. Research shows these staff are at greater risk of stab injuries because they intervene in prisoner on prisoner fights which are more likely to feature stabbing weapons.

All staff won’t wear the armour all the time, but we’re kitting them all out so if they are called upon to work in a high risk area they’re properly equipped. The new armour is 25 – 30 percent lighter than our existing armour.

Domestic violence action

A new Family Violence Programme is aimed at low to low-moderate risk men. Dave*, 31, is serving a three month sentence for drink-driving, and has previous convictions for seriously assaulting his partner and wilful damage against an ex-partner’s property. Dave doesn’t really know why he gets so angry at his partner when arguing over her friends, finances and household matters, but he realises this is not healthy, especially for their children.

Until now, Dave has never managed to complete a programme to address his use of violence in relationships – but now there’s hope with a new Family Violence Programme aimed at low to low-moderate risk men like him.

Dave’s example is, sadly, not uncommon. Family violence makes up a significant proportion of our work, many of the offenders we supervise have current or previous convictions that are family violence related – over 50 percent of violent crime is related to family violence.

“That 50 percent statistic is very confronting and one we need to address directly,” says Manager Programmes and Interventions CJ Lamb.

“The reasons why a person may be violent towards a partner or family members are varied. It is very important that any non-violence programme is targeted to an individual and uses an evidence-based approach.”

Taking this approach into account, Corrections is piloting a new Community Family Violence Programme, created in collaboration with professional programme designers and representatives from a range of providers and agencies including Police, Ministry for Women, Ministry of Social Development, and Ministry of Justice.

“We have been guided by research when considering the best way to design this programme and how to target offenders,” says CJ.

“For example, research indicates there are better outcomes when similar risk offenders are in a programme together, as opposed to mixing lower and higher risk men as has been done previously.”

The new programme is aimed specifically at offenders who have a low to low-moderate risk of reconviction, as part of the three-tiered approach to treating family violence. High risk offenders are referred to a psychologist and medium risk offenders to appropriate medium intensity rehabilitation programmes.

Initially 13 programme facilitators completed training to deliver the programme for offenders in the community. Following on the success of an ‘in house’ programme run in Hawke’s Bay, they started running the programme in some prisons in March.

The programme has participants explore family violence from a model that says domestic violence offending has multiple causes and is influenced by a person’s developmental history, relationship styles, environmental circumstances and ideological beliefs and values.

Our focus on addressing family violence is part of our efforts to reduce re-offending by 25 percent by 2017.

Further reading:

Corrections recognises ten volunteers

National Volunteer Week - 21 - 27 JuneThis Volunteer Awareness Week, Corrections is acknowledging ten volunteers who are doing great work to support our goal of reducing re-offending.

An important part of reducing re-offending is increasing literacy and numeracy levels of prisoners so they can take part in employment training and gain qualifications – and three volunteer literacy tutors are among those we’re acknowledging.

Di Whiteacre works with some of Corrections’ most challenging prisoners, including maximum security prisoners at Auckland Prison. Di works with four prisoners one-to-one, and some of her sessions are held through a grill due to the prisoners’ security classifications.

Margaret Morgan volunteers at Rimutaka Prison and has helped prisoners gain NCEA maths qualifications. She helped one prisoner write an illustrated story for children. Another literacy tutor, Caroline Keddie, gives one-to-one tutoring to prisoners at Spring Hill Corrections Facility.

Patrick Nutira, Daphne O’Connell and Margaret Jones are three Kaumatua who have volunteered at Christchurch Men’s Prison’s Matapuna Special Treatment Unit for many years. The trio have been tireless in their dedication to supporting the kaupapa of Matapuna.  Their involvement ensures that the unit works within a Te Ao Maori framework.

Maryanne Villa, Karen Quin and Norah Bacon volunteer for PARS Palmerston North and run a knitting group for up to ten men at Manawatu Prison. They recently helped the prisoners make 150 poppies for the National Army Museum’s poppy appeal. 
Another volunteer, David Slack, works for Gamblers Anonymous at Spring Hill Corrections Facility. Drawing on his own experience, David gives the prisoners hope that they can overcome their gambling addictions.

Thanks, volunteers!

We can’t mention you all by name, but we want you to know how much we appreciate the work you do.

Helping offenders turn their lives around is a challenging job – and we couldn’t do it without you!

National Volunteer Week 21 – 27 June

Auckland South Corrections Facility opens

A unit at the new prison. On Friday 8 May 2015, Minister of Corrections, Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga officially opened the new 960 bed Auckland South Corrections Facility (ASCF).

The Department of Corrections partnered with SecureFuture to design, build, finance, operate and maintain ASCF, and SecureFuture has subcontracted Serco to operate ASCF. ASCF was built ahead of time and on budget. The new facility commenced operations on 18 May, with the arrival of 60 prisoners in the first week.

The number of prisoners will gradually increase until early October when capacity is reached. ASCF will accommodate 360 high security prisoners and 600 men with a classification of minimum, low or low-medium.

ASCF is focused on work, education and training, which is designed to help prisoners address their offending behaviour and equip them with the skills to live a constructive life when they are released into the community. It will accommodate men from the Auckland area enabling them to maintain family connections, create important community links and develop an employment history.

The contract signed by Corrections and SecureFuture is focused on outcomes and improving performance. The delivery of better performance is being driven through a carefully balanced combination of financial incentives and financial penalties designed to focus SecureFuture, and Serco as the operator, on the things that are of the most value to the Department.

With our challenge of reducing re-offending by 25 percent by 2017, it is no surprise that reducing the number of prisoners that return to custody is at the top of that list.

Corrections Journal - invitation to contributors

Are you a frontline staff member, practitioner, researcher or academic in the Justice arena? Have you completed an interesting project or piece of research that you would like to share with a wider audience?

Practice: The New Zealand Corrections Journal would like to hear from you – whether you’re an experienced writer, or if this would be your first published piece.

The journal publishes in-depth, academic and practice-focused articles. Corrections recommends it for all those working professionally with offenders, especially in New Zealand.

Before you consider contributing, please read the ‘information for contributors’ which appears at the back of previously published issues. We also suggest you read the back issues to see the kind of thing we include:

Once you’ve checked the back issues, please email with a brief summary of your proposed article and a member of the Editorial Board will contact you to discuss your idea.


From our Minister Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga


Minister of Corrections Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-IigaOver the past few months I have continued to visit many prisons and Community Corrections sites. Among those I have visited recently are Arohata Prison, Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison, Tongariro/Rangipo Prison, Christchurch Women’s Prison and Northland Region Corrections Facility.

One theme that has been consistent in all my visits is the desire by all those involved in the Corrections system to see offenders rehabilitated and in employment.

Our government’s aim is to reduce re-offending by 25 percent by 2017. To help achieve this, all prisons in the Corrections estate will become working prisons. This means all eligible prisoners must engage in 40 hours productive activity each week. This can be a combination of education, programmes, courses and work.

All the Corrections staff I have met are committed to making sure prisoners have the best chance of gaining an education, skills and work experience they need to find employment when they are released.
I have set Corrections the target of getting 1,000 prisoners into employment on release by 2019.

Of course this means there have to be employers willing to offer 1000 work places to prisoners.

That is why I am hosting business breakfasts around the country, beginning initially in Auckland and Wellington.

Corrections and I want to engage with stakeholders and provide an opportunity for employers to show their support for prisoners and their families. We will also showcase the work Corrections does in the field of prisoner employment.

Getting employers on board could mean offering positions either on the job or inside prison, training, mentoring and participating in the Release to Work programme.

Research has shown that prisoners who gain industry skills and experience do much better in the community when they are released and are less likely to re-offend. This is good for their self-esteem and self-worth. It is also good for their families and their communities.

Fewer crimes means fewer victims and a safer society. That is our aim, to reintegrate these prisoners successfully and give them a way to contribute meaningfully to society.

Regional highlights

Read what's been happening around the regions:

  • Northern: Maximum security prisoners graduate, Goldie Bush rejuvenation (PDF, 387KB)
  • Central: Offenders contribute to Waikato cycleway, Carpentry milestone at Spring Hill (PDF, 465KB)
  • Lower North: Postcard from Samoa, Lumpy stamp leads to drug find (PDF, 429KB)
  • Southern: Eleven more houses refurbished for Canterbury, New intensive help to beat addictions (PDF, 391KB). 

Court/prison audio visual links safer and more efficient

Audio visual court roomIn May, Dunedin Court joined other courts and prisons around the country who use Audio Visual Links (AVL) to enable prisoners to ‘virtually’ attend court appearances without leaving prison.

The AVL initiative arose out of a desire to streamline the Justice system, while enhancing public safety and decreasing the risks associated with transporting prisoners to court.

The Courts (Remote Participation) Act came into effect in 2010. Before this, all defendants were required to attend court in person, even for minor proceedings. Transporting prisoners brings risks of prisoners escaping, being violent and introducing contraband back to prisons. It also took prisoners away from the prison for long periods, even for appearances that were minor and brief, and interrupted prisoners’ daily routines such as not being able to participate in programmes or employment for the day. The costs associated with transporting and supervising prisoners for court appearances are significant.

The AVL network has been progressively rolled out, predominantly to those prisons which house remand prisoners, who typically have more court appearances. AVL suites for court appearances will be installed at Spring Hill Corrections Facility and Manawatu Prison later this year.

Around 40,000 remand hearings take place each year. Using AVL technology, court escorts have reduced by more than 3,500 prisoner transports to court in the last six months alone.