M.03.01 Under 20 years old male prisoners

The purpose of youth units is to provide a safe and secure developmental environment for youth and vulnerable male prisoners. To reduce re-offending amongst this group by providing access to a range of educational, vocational, psychological and recreational activities in a structured and supportive environment which is normalised as much as is possible in a prison setting.

M.03.01.01 Youth unit entry criteria

  1. The following (remand and sentenced) categories of prisoners are approved to be placed in a youth unit:
    1. Youth – Correction Act Placements (CAP): prisoners aged 14 to 17 years old. Prisoners 17 years of age or under are automatically placed in youth units.
    2. Youth Unit Placement: prisoners aged 18 and 19 years of age and assessed as suitable (by the Assessment of Placement for Young Adult (APYA)) for placement in a youth unit.
  2. Young adults who are actively “at risk” of self harm will be placed in the Intervention and Support Unit (ISU) and not a youth unit.
  3. The officer receiving the prisoner must check all IOMS Alerts, Current and Historical as well as other services by clicking on the All button under service.

    M.03.01 Prisoner Alerts
  4. IOMS alerts must be entered, amended and removed as and when circumstances require. These alerts must be checked (as agreed) by a Youth Unit PCO.
    Alert type Comments box
    Young Adult - Youth Unit Placement Provide a brief summary presenting rationale for youth unit placement (e.g. highly vulnerable to others, first time in prison, has been safely managed in OT residence, fears being in the mainstream prison environment, etc.)
    Young Adult - Non Youth Placement Provide a brief summary presenting rationale for non-youth placement (e.g. presents an immediate risk of harm to others, promotes / recruits for gang, youth placement will interfere with whānau contact, etc.)
Watch Point

Prisoners aged under 20 years who do not have a Young Adult – Youth Unit Placement or Young Adult – Non-Youth Placement IOMS alert require their placement to be assessed using the Assessment of Placement for Young Adults (APYA).

M.03.01.02 Youth – Correction Act placements

  1. The Department of Corrections Coordinator (at youthplacement@corrections.govt.nz) will advise the reception/movements manager when:
    1. a young offender has entered guilty pleas and a conviction has been recorded, and
    2. a Youth Court Judge has declined jurisdiction (this is an indication that the young offender is likely to receive a custodial sentence), and
    3. the sentencing is scheduled in the District or High Court.
  2. The reception/movements manager will arrange for escort staff to attend the young offender’s sentencing event.
  3. After a conviction is entered, but prior to the young offender’s sentencing, a departmental psychologist (or other approved Corrections employee) in conjunction with a representative from Oranga Tamariki will complete an initial Young Person Placement Assessment (YPPA) and the M.03.01.Form.04 Oranga Tamariki placement approval will be completed.
  4. If the young offender is sentenced to a term of imprisonment escort staff will be advised at the Court by the Coordinator or the senior advisor to regional commissioner where the offender is to begin serving their sentence. The young offender will be directed to be placed at either:
    1. a Correction’s youth unit, or
    2. Oranga Tamariki's Korowai Manaaki Youth Justice residence in Auckland, Te Au rere a te Tonga Youth Justice residence in Palmerston North, or Te Puna Wai ō Tuhinapo Youth Justice residence in Christchurch.

      Note: These are currently the only Oranga Tamariki residences with approved Corrections Act Beds.

  5. If the young offender is required to serve the initial part (or all of their) sentence at the Oranga Tamariki Youth Justice Residence, it is not desirable for the offender to spend any time in a prison. If the young offender cannot be taken to Auckland, Manawatu, or Christchurch directly, enquiries should be made with the NZ Police to determine if the youth can be detained at a Police Station, pending their transfer to Auckland, Manawatu, or Christchurch.
  6. If the young offender is not sentenced (i.e. sentencing is adjourned) they remain the responsibility of Oranga Tamariki or a non-custodial sentence is imposed, Corrections escort staff must not take custody of them.
  7. Where approval has been given (as recorded in M.03.01.Form.04 Oranga Tamariki placement approval) for a young offender to serve all or part of their sentence of imprisonment within an Oranga Tamariki Youth Justice Residence, they remain in the legal custody of the relevant prison’s prison director.
  8. The day-to-day control and management of the young offender while in a residence rests with the manager of the residence in consultation with the relevant prison director of the prison from which the prisoner has been transferred.
  9. To give effect to this, a joint case management meeting must be convened as soon as possible but within five working days following the young offender’s admission to the residence. Central to the process of joint case management will be the preparation of a sentence management agreement. The Agreement will include the following:
    1. the calculation and review of the young offender’s parole eligibility date and/or final release date
    2. the calculation and review of the young prisoner’s security classification
    3. the calculation and administration of the young prisoner’s temporary release entitlements
    4. the administration of the young prisoner’s pre-release and post-release requirements
    5. the administration of any disciplinary procedures in relation to the young prisoner.
  10. If the youth unit PCO or residential manager have concerns relating to placement in the youth unit, or Oranga Tamariki advise of concern with the offender’s placement in their residence, they must immediately advise the Coordinator, at youthplacement@corrections.govt.nz who will arrange a review of the YPPA.

M.03.01.03 Assessment and placement of vulnerable young adults in youth unit

  1. The purpose of the Assessment of Placement for Young Adult (APYA) is to determine the most suitable placement for an 18 or 19 year old, and whether their placement in a youth unit would be contrary to the best interests of other youth prisoners placed in a youth unit.
  2. The M.03.01.Form.02 Assessment of Placement for Young Adult (APYA) is to be completed (by trained staff) on all 18 and 19 year old prisoners:
    1. received at the prison, initiated within 72 hours and MUST be finalised within 7 days of arrival, or
    2. on transfer, and only if an Assessment of Placement for Young Adult (APYA) completed within the previous 6 months is not on the prisoner’s file.

      Completing the assessment should be a collaborative process. It is important to consult with as many parties as possible to gain a holistic and robust picture of the 18 or 19-year-old.

      The assessor must engage with the PCO and/or RM of the nearest youth unit; and must attempt to engage with (but not limit themselves to) whānau, Oranga Tamariki social worker and Youth Justice residence staff (if they have a Youth Justice history), Case Management, psychological services, and health.

  3. If the assessment process identifies a prisoner as "Young Adult - Youth Unit Placement":
    1. the placement of a prisoner must be approved by the recommended site's prison director (or delegate).
    2. the “Young Adult - Youth Unit Placement” IOMS alerts must be recorded in IOMS.
      Rating Youth Unit Category
      1 Youth – CAP from the same region (convicted and accused)
      2 Youth – CAP from outside the region (convicted and accused)
      3 Youth – (17 years old) from the same region (convicted and accused)
      4 Youth – (17 years old) from outside the region (convicted and accused)
      5 Young Adult - from the same region (accused)
      6 Young Adult - Youth Unit Placements from outside the region if the youth unit is operating at full capacity and unable to receive a new arrival or accept a transfer of a youth or vulnerable young adult. The unit PCO must assess each prisoner against the following transferability priority criteria and make a recommendation to the Prisoner Movement Coordinator on which prisoners are suitable to be transferred.
      Note: The lower the rating the less suitable the prisoner is for transfer.
  4. The youth unit PCO and/or residential manager will determine who is accepted into the youth unit.
  5. Admission to a youth unit for a prisoner from another region requires the approval of both the prison director and the youth unit PCO.
    Watch Point

    M.03.01.Form.02 Assessment of Placement for Young Adult is a referral and does not dictate the 18 or 19-year-old’s placement outcome on its own.

    The assessment is designed to provide the youth unit PCO and/or Residential Manager with a holistic and evidence-based picture of the 18 or 19-year-old, so they may determine whether that individual can be safely managed in the youth unit.

  6. Prisoners placed within a youth unit must be managed as per the requirements set out in M.03.01.Res.01 Youth unit structured day.

M.03.01.05 Under 20 year old prisoners not suitable to be placed in youth unit

  1. If the Assessment of Placement for Young Adult excludes an 18 or 19 year old from a youth unit placement then:
    1. the prisoner is to be managed as an adult prisoner and placed in a unit appropriate to their sentence plan, considering the information obtained from the Assessment of Placement for Young Adult, their file review and M.05 Prisoners at risk of self harm assessment.
    2. the “Young Adult - Non-Youth Unit Placement" IOMS alerts must be recorded in IOMS.
Consideration When an 18 or 19-year-old has been assessed as “Young Adult - Non-Youth Unit Placement”, consideration must be given to the most suitable alternative placement outside of a Youth Unit.

Information collected in the assessment should be used to support this decision; including goals the individual has identified in relation to rehabilitation and reintegration, education and industry, and connections to their culture.


If an 18 or 19-year-old has been assessed as “Young Adult - Non-youth Unit Placement”, contacting the PCO of a potential alternative unit may assist in identifying the most suitable placement.

M.03.01.05 Sites without youth units

  1. An under 18-year-old prisoner must be transferred to a youth unit within 72 hours of reception and an 18 or 19-year-old assessed as "Young Adult - Youth Unit Placement" within 7 days of reception, unless there is a justifiable reason why the under 18-year-old or 18 or 19-year-old prisoners should remain at the prison. In such cases, the prison director (or authorised delegate) must approve the extension.
  2. Prior to being transferred under 18-year-old or "Young Adult - Youth Unit Placement" prisoners must be placed in approved designated unit(s) as per the Operating Policy for the Placement and Management of Youth and Vulnerable Young Adult Prisoners at the prisons without a designated youth unit.

M.03.01.06 Prisoner exit from a youth unit

  1. The processes for a prisoner to be transferred or removed from youth units occurs:
    1. when a review youth (YPPA) prisoner's (aged 14 to 17) placement requires the prisoner to be transferred to an Oranga Tamariki residence, or
    2. when the Regional Commissioner grants a specific exemption on a youth prisoner following a written application for expulsion, or
    3. when an Assessment of Placement for Young Adult is administered on a prisoner 10-14 days prior to their 18th birthday and the final decision is for placement outside a youth unit, or
    4. when an Assessment of Placement for Young Adult is administered or reviewed and the final decision is for placement outside a youth unit, or
    5. when a young adult placed in a youth unit turns 20 years of age.
  2. The sentence management process determines which unit the prisoner should be transferred to. The transfers must take into account any programme the prisoner is involved in, and to allow completion of these programmes where possible.
  3. Before transferring the prisoner the youth unit PCO must discuss with the receiving unit PCO any concerns relating to the prisoner. The transfer or exit process is the same as for mainstream adult prisoners.
Watch Point

Units are not able to expel prisoners as a punishment for bad behaviour or IDU status.

A prisoner under 18 years of age can only be ‘expelled’ from the youth unit following a successful application for expulsion to the Regional Commissioner.