Just How Effective Is Correctional Treatment At Reducing Re-Offending?

Brendan Anstiss
Psychological Service, Department of Corrections and Victoria University of Wellington

This aim of this paper is to review the recent history and examine the present state of New Zealand correctional interventions. The focus is specifically on those interventions, programmes, or treatments, which have the goal of reducing re-offending. Beginning in the ‘nothing works’ era of the 1970’s, this paper reviews the international development of effective correctional interventions, and summarises the evaluation of these programmes in terms of published meta-analyses. The development, implementation and evaluation of a number of New Zealand treatment programmes are then discussed. Recidivism outcome measures from these New Zealand programmes are consistent with international benchmarks in terms of their ability to reduce re-offending. There is also a growing body of evidence that the effectiveness of these programmes can be further enhanced through particular attention to established principles of programme best practice, including providing culturally relevant and appropriate interventions to Māori offenders. A number of suggestions for further increasing the effectiveness of correctional programming are made.

Address for correspondence:

Chief Psychologist
Department of Corrections
PO Box 1206
New Zealand, 6140

Email: info@corrections.govt.nz