M.03.04 Self-care units for women
Self-care units are residential style accommodation designed to be used primarily by prisoners who are nearing release and have re-integrative needs that will be met by placement in a self-care unit.
Self-care units assist in the reintegration from prison to community by easing the transition between the prison environment and the community. They contribute to the reduction of re-offending by increasing residents' personal responsibility and self-reliance before their release from prison.
Mothers and Babies Units (MBU) are in self-care units at Auckland Regional Women’s Prison, Arohata Prison and Christchurch Women’s Prison.
When assessing eligibility for a female prisoner with a baby less than 24 months old to reside in any MBU the criteria in this section relating to internal and external self-care units is not to be considered, reference must be made to M.03.02.08 Children in prisons application assessment.
M.03.04.01 Internal and external self-care units
- Internal self-care units are located within the secure perimeter of the prison. Internal self-care units are normally located in close proximity to the gatehouse or the single point entry and visits area.
- External self-care units are located outside the secure perimeter of the prison. External self-care units are normally located so that they are not seen as part of the main prison complex, while at the same time being sufficiently close to ensure that they can be supported from the prison.
M.03.04.02 Eligibility criteria for internal self-care units
- To be considered for placement in an internal self-care unit the prisoner must:
- be at least 18 years old; and
- be low-medium, low or minimum security; and
- currently be housed in a low security unit or a youth offender unit; and
- be non-IDU and have provided two clean samples in the three months prior to placement (if these tests are unavailable, prison management should determine whether the prisoner may still be considered for placement); and
- have not been convicted of any offence in the last 6 months, under the Corrections Act 2004, or any other Act, for an offence committed while in the custody of the Department; and
- the prisoner must not have been convicted of a present or past sexual or violent offences involving children.
M.03.04.03 Suitability for placement in an internal self-care unit
- Despite being eligible for consideration to be placed in an internal self-care unit, prisoners must also be assessed as suitable for placement.
- Placement in an internal self-care unit should form part of the prisoner’s planned reintegration and the prisoner’s case manager and case officer should consider whether placement in an internal self-care unit would assist with the prisoner’s successful reintegration.
- If the prisoner’s case officer or case manager considers that the prisoner is ready for placement in an internal self-care unit they should raise it at the Unit’s Right Track meeting for discussion.
- When determining whether an eligible prisoner is suitable for placement in an internal self-care unit, the deciding staff should consider whether the applicant:
- has exhibited responsible and positive behaviour during their placement in a low security unit; and
- whether the prisoner is at the stage of their imprisonment that they are preparing for release; and
- how the prisoner will benefit from placement in an internal self-care unit; and
- whether such placement has been identified as beneficial in the prisoner’s offender plan or by the New Zealand Parole Board.
M.03.04.04 Eligibility criteria for external self-care units
- The decision of whether to place a prisoner in an external self-care unit is for the prison director only.
- An application for placement in an external self-care unit should only be made to the prison director if the prisoner satisfies the eligibility criteria listed below. These criteria mirror the eligibility criteria for temporary release.
- For an application to be considered the prisoner must be:
- Minimum security and:
- serving a sentence of 24 months or less; or
- serving a sentence of more than 24 months and have reached their parole eligibility date; or
- were sentenced to a determinate sentence of imprisonment prior to 1 July 2002 for a “serious violent offence”, are not eligible for parole, and are within 12 months of their sentence end date.
- Low and low-medium security prisoners who have a release date set by the New Zealand Parole Board.
- Minimum security and:
- The prisoner must also not be an identified drug user.
- The prisoner must not have been convicted of a sexual or violent offence involving children.
 A “serious violent offence” for these purposes is sexual violation (Crimes Act 1961, s 128), manslaughter (s 171), attempted murder (s 173), wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (s 188(1)), wounding with intent to injure (s 188(2)), injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (s 189(1)), injuring with intent to injure (s 189(2)), using a firearm against law enforcement officer, etc (s 198A), commission of crime with firearm (s 189B), robbery (s 234), aggravated robbery (s 235).
M.03.04.05 Application for placement in an external self-care unit
- An application for placement in an external self-care unit should form part of a prisoner’s planned reintegration.
- If the prisoner’s case officer or case manager considers that the prisoner is ready for placement in an external self-care unit they should raise it at the Unit’s Right Track meeting and discuss whether an application should be made to the prison director. During that discussion they should be guided by M.03.06.Res.01 External self-care unit decision making framework.
- To apply for placement in an external self-care unit, unit staff should complete the M.03.04.Form.05 Application for placement in a female external self-care unit and attach the necessary documentation specified in the form.
- Applications for placement in an external self-care unit are determined by the prison director. The prison director will receive advice on the application from the advisory panel.
- Prison directors should use the guidance in M.03.06.Res.01 External self-care units decision making framework.
M.03.04.06 Recording the decision
- The prison director must keep a record of their decisions made relating to all applications for placement in an external self-care unit. This record should include, but is not limited to:
- the result of the application; and
- the rationale for the decision including the factors considered and the people consulted during the decision making process.
M.03.04.07 Decline of application
- If the application is declined by the decision maker, the prisoner must be advised of the decision and the reasons for it in writing.
- Complaints by prisoners about a decision on an application for placement in an external self-care unit may be made by them directly to an Inspector of Corrections or through the internal complaints system.
- If the application is refused, the prisoner’s case officer or case manager should have a discussion with the prisoner about why the application was declined and what their next steps should be.
M.03.04.08 Prisoner agreement
- In order for any prisoner to be accommodated in a self-care unit they must sign an agreement in which they agree to comply with the conditions and requirements of the unit. This agreement must include that they must not apply for a passport or any other travel documents and that they must only move within the areas specified by the unit management.
M.03.04.09 Placement decisions when the self-care units are full
- When a prisoner has been assessed as suitable for placement in an internal or external self-care unit and the units are currently full, the prison director should determine whether there is a prisoner in the unit who should be moved to make way for the new prisoner or whether the prisoner should be placed on a waiting list.
- This determination should be made by the prison director on the basis of the prisoners’ level of need to be in the unit.
M.03.04.10 Retention criteria
- Prisoner’s placement in a self-care unit should be reconsidered if their circumstances have changed.
- In general, for prisoners to remain in the unit they should:
- work actively towards achieving the objectives of their offender plan; and
- remain drug and alcohol free and submit to urine analysis testing as required; and
- behave in a responsible manner and engage well with staff and other prisoners; and
- comply with the terms of their self-care unit contract.
M.03.04.11 Self-care unit activities
- Prisoners accommodated in a self-care unit are there to work towards their successful reintegration. Therefore, they should be helped to:
- find suitable and affordable accommodation for their release; and
- obtain suitable and sustainable employment for their release; and
- develop skills to look after their day to day welfare on release such as skills relating to parenting, budgeting, household shopping, meal preparation, cleaning and laundry; and
- develop communication skills in order to assist with their life after release, such as co-operative decision making and the ability to discuss and resolve issues and / or conflict constructively; and
- develop community networks that will support their ongoing rehabilitation and re-integrative needs on release; and
- participate in cultural activities and activities with their families / whānau who are likely to support them on release
- participate in hobbies, sport and unit house “meetings”.
- Prisoners should also be supported to engage in regular visits to the community if appropriate to achieve the objectives described above.
M.03.04.12 Photograph of prisoners housed in external self-care units
- The IOMS photograph of prisoners who are placed in external self-care units must be no more than 3 months old.
M.03.04.13 Escape from an external self-care unit
- In the event a prisoner is unaccounted for and unlawfully at large from an external self-care unit, staff must respond as per the emergency procedures for an escape.
- Staff must immediately notify the prison director or on-call manager who will assume responsibility for the management of the incident and advise you on the appropriate next steps.
- Staff should also contact the VNR co-ordinator who will manage the most appropriate and timely notification to registered victims. The VNR co-ordinator should liaise with the Police during this process.