2. The Kia Marama sex offender treatment programme

Kia Marama was established in 1989 as New Zealand’s first specialist prison treatment programme for child sex offenders. Originally based on the Atascadero Sex Offender Treatment and Evaluation Programme in California (Marques, 1988), Kia Marama was established as a 60-bed therapeutic community that provided group-based interventions to convicted child-sex offenders. The highly structured programme is based around 9 hours of group contact per week for a total duration of 33 weeks. Full details of the programme content are provided in the publications “Kia Marama: A Treatment Programme for Child Molesters in New Zealand” (Hudson, Wales & Ward, 1998) and “And there was Light” (Bakker, Hudson, Wales & Riley, 1998). This latter publication also details the effectiveness of the Kia Marama programme in reducing recidivism. As reported by Bakker, Hudson, Wales and Riley (1998), 238 Kia Marama graduates were compared against a control group of child sex offenders convicted between 1983 and 1987 (N=284), before the programme started. The control group was not a pure control group, in the sense that Psychological Service staff would have seen many of these offenders for individual treatment as child sex offenders have always represented a priority treatment group for the Department of Corrections.

After controlling for various demographic and offence variables (e.g., ethnicity, number of previous sexual convictions) and differing lengths of follow-up, survival analysis revealed a significant difference (Ward statistic=5.6221 [df=1], p<.05) between the Kia Marama treatment completed group and the non-treatment control group. Kia Marama treated subjects had a failure rate less than one-half of the control group (10% as opposed to 23% reconvicted of a sexual offence). McLean and Grace (1998, p. 96; and also personal communication with Dr. Randolph Grace, 10 October 2002) in their review of the Kia Marama programme, report that when personal, demographic and sample variables are controlled for, the effect size for Kia Marama is approximately r=+.20. As with the Psychological Service effectiveness studies, the obtained effect size for Kia Marama is very favourable when compared to international studies of a similar nature (see for example Nagayama Hall, 1995). It is however important to note that only sexual recidivism (both against children and adults) was recorded. This evaluation would be enhanced by presentation of statistics on general recidivism (in addition to sexual recidivism) following completion of the Kia Marama programme. Without this data it is not possible to determine if a specialist programme, such as Kia Marama, has any generalised effect on recidivism or whether the effect is localised to just reducing future sexual offences.