Reducing the rate of re-offending

Reducing re-offending is at the heart of what Corrections does. It is a theme being tackled by justice systems around the world, however no other country has attempted or achieved the target that New Zealand has set.

We are invested in providing safer communities through rehabilitating offenders and reducing re-offending

Contributing to Better Public Services

Our work across the Justice Sector is vital to making a difference for New Zealanders. As part of this we have an ongoing focus on delivering the Government’s priorities for better public services.

In line with this, we contribute to the cross-government effort to achieve the target for Better Public Services Result 8. Result 8 is to “reduce re-offending by 25% by June 2017”. This means 4,600 fewer offenders returning each year, and around 18,500 fewer victims each year.

Effective rehabilitation of offenders

Corrections has a comprehensive and well-designed conceptual framework for achieving reductions in reoffending rates, primarily through the rehabilitation of the offenders that we manage. Around $176 million was spent in 2015/16 on services to rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders.

This financial year Corrections have managed over 60,000 offenders, each of whom presents with a unique combination of risk and needs. While it is not feasible or effective to provide rehabilitation to all offenders, the information that Corrections holds enables evidence-based interventions to be delivered where they are most needed and most likely to succeed in turning an offender’s life around.

Evidence based interventions and programmes that work

The programmes and interventions delivered by Corrections address the full range of problems, difficulties and circumstantial issues known to drive offending and re-offending. The main elements include:

  • violence propensity
  • drug and alcohol dependence and abuse
  • pro-criminal thinking patterns
  • low self-control
  • criminal associates
  • sexual deviance
  • alienation from one’s cultural roots
  • low literacy
  • lack of employment skills
  • housing and financial difficulties.

Interventions delivered by Corrections are grounded in research and evidence of effectiveness because we are able to accurately evaluate the extent to which individual rehabilitation programmes are successful. As a result, we are able to make well informed decisions on where we put our resources and money to ensure we work towards the goal of reducing re-offending.

How will we know we are achieving the result?

Corrections has a range of measures that show performance towards the goal of reducing re-offending. A measurement methodology known as the Rehabilitation Quotient gauges the extent of each intervention’s success in reducing re-offending, by comparing rates of reconviction and reimprisonment amongst offenders who received the intervention against the rates recorded for offenders who have an equivalent level of risk but no exposure to the intervention.

Measuring the seriousness of re-offending

Since 2011/12, Corrections has been able to measure the seriousness of re-offending. The figure for this is derived from the Ministry of Justice’s Seriousness of Offences Scale*, which assigns a numeric score for every criminal offence; for example, murder has a seriousness score of 10,000, while a minor theft offence has a seriousness score of 70.

In 2015/16 the seriousness figure for prison releases was 358.4, while for community-based sentences it was 176.1. Both of these are slightly above target.

* For more details, search

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