Our approach to reintegration
One of the keys to reducing re-offending is helping people live crime-free after they have served their sentence or order.
Around 15,000 people are released from our prisons each year, and thousands more complete community-based sentences.
Research shows that people are less likely to re-offend when they have the right support around them, and less re-offending means that everyone is safer. Key forms of support include employment, accommodation, education and training, skills for life, oranga, and family/whänau/community relationships.
Reintegration is the process of successfully transitioning offenders back into the wider community following the end of their sentences. An offender is said to have successfully transitioned when they remain crime-free and settle into the wider community with pro-social, constructive attitudes and behaviours. Reintegration is most successful when offenders take responsibility or ownership of their needs, and have strong community involvement/engagement.
Supported accommodation providers use a case management approach to transition offenders from prison to the community. Offenders are assisted to develop a reintegration plan, find sustainable accommodation and reconnect with the community. Of the 931 places available nationwide, 305 include support for the offender to find employment.
In 2013/14 Corrections contracted just over 200 supported accommodation places for prisoners and emergency accommodation in a variety of locations. Now at 931 places, this has increased by over 300%. The growth is part of our ongoing strategy to support offenders transitioning into the community, to reduce their risk of re-offending and keep the public safe.
Corrections has continued to offer the Out of Gate programme. Out of Gate supports offenders at a particularly vulnerable stage of their lives, when they are released from prison and reintegrating into the community. Offenders in prison are isolated from society and support networks, and upon release they often have little money, few relationships and no job or accommodation. Out of Gate works with the offenders both before and after release, supporting them through every aspect of their reintegration. This can include assistance to attend doctor’s appointments, set up bank accounts, prepare for interviews or write CVs to apply for employment, and maintaining programmes of rehabilitation and other forms of treatment.
The reimprisonment rate for completers of the Out of Gate service has been 4.0% lower than for comparable offenders who did not receive the service. This is below than in the 2014/15 financial year, but still a good result for a reintegrative support service.
Our reintegration partners range from dedicated volunteers to contracted service providers. Some provide practical support like clothing and advocacy, while others offer ongoing motivation and moral support. We also work with:
- >> families/whänau
- >> community groups and community agencies
- >> churches and prison chaplains, faith-based groups
- >> Quitline and drug and alcohol treatment providers
- >> district health boards and primary health organisations
- >> iwi/Marae based groups and organisations
- >> sports groups
- >> counselling and mental health providers.
Reintegration is not just for people leaving prison. People who have served community-based sentences and orders may also need help to make a fresh start, and to play a positive role in their communities and families.
Our reintegration efforts go hand-in-hand with rehabilitation; every interaction is an opportunity to encourage a crime-free future.
Enhanced management if prisoner releases
In New Zealand, almost every prisoner will one day be released back into society. Serving prisoners may also, from time to time, be eligible for temporary release for rehabilitation or compassionate reasons. In both situations we are responsible for minimising the risks of harm that offenders may pose to the public.
Following the Phillip Smith Inquiry we are implementing new practices to enhance our management of prisoner releases, and to improve public safety.
Advisory panels have been established to provide advice to support prison directors’ decisions on the suitability of prisoners who have applied for temporary release from prison. Panel membership will vary depending on the specific circumstances of each request, but will typically comprise Corrections staff, external agencies (such as NZ Police and Child, Youth and Family), and community representatives.
From 2016/17 onwards, case managers will work more intensively with long-serving prisoners (those serving sentences of two years or more) to identify, plan for and carry out specific and meaningful reintegration activities. This approach will bring together the prisoners, their family or community support, and Corrections staff for comprehensive reintegration planning.
We arrange for real jobs on release
Working with employers and industry to provide real jobs for offenders is a second step in helping prisoners to build stable and law-abiding lifestyles following their release from prison. In 2015/16, 1,857 prisoners and 8,754 community-based offenders received improved services to assist them in finding stable employment. This is above our target of 7,500, and reflects an increase of around 50% in the delivery of such services from the rate in 2014/15.
To date, Corrections has signed 67 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU’s) with employers, totalling 469 positions for our job seekers. There are a number of other MoU’s currently in the pipeline with employers across the regions.
The Employment Support Service (ESS) initiative commenced in July 2014, with an annual contract value of $1 million per annum. This service provides job placement and in-work support for prisoners due for release, and for offenders on a community sentence who are motivated to get a job and keep it.
In the 2015/16 financial year, a total of 320 full-package jobseekers were enrolled onto ESS. Of the 320 enrolled, 117 were successfully placed into employment, equating to a conversion rate between enrolment and employment placement of 37%.
A move towards outcomes-based contracting has improved Corrections’ ability to recognise and expand successful rehabilitative and reintegrative programmes. Outcomes-based contracting means that external providers are assessed on the outcomes of the programmes that they deliver to offenders, as well as simpler metrics such as the number of programmes delivered. This gives us greater scope to adjust the suite of externally-provided programmes in line with what is successful in reducing offenders’ likelihood of re-offending, and is part of a larger shift towards emphasis on the results of the rehabilitative programmes that we deliver.