The Government is continuing to safeguard the public through a modern and secure corrections system while also improving the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders back into the community.
The Corrections Act 2004 gives a legislative framework for the purpose and guiding principles of the corrections system. Public safety remains the paramount consideration. The Act completes a major programme of new legislation that improves our approach to criminal justice issues. Other legislation included stronger bail, sentencing and parole laws while victims' rights were also protected.
The corrections system now provides better protection for the public, gives greater recognition to the needs of victims and ensures the management of offenders is consistent with best practice. A new extended supervision regime for child-sex offenders has also been introduced. This enables the Department to monitor serious offenders for up to 10 years after they leave prison.
Along with legislative reform, the government has provided more resources for additional capacity to manage the growing prison population resulting from a tougher approach to crime, while delivering services to the required standards.
In March, I opened the 350-bed Northland Region Corrections Facility. This is the first of four new prisons being built that will add more than 1600 beds to prison capacity. In addition, the government has also provided funding for another 493 beds to be added to existing sites by next year.
The Government is also determined to reduce re-offending. The Statement of Intent highlights some priorities I have set for the Department in this area. These are:
- Reintegration for offenders on release from prison to the community
- Appropriate industry-accredited training for offenders and sustainable employment after release
- Enhanced offender management systems across the Department and with other agencies
- Improved rehabilitation of offenders in prison and in the community
- More effective management of offenders serving short sentences
- Trials of new technologies for electronic monitoring of offenders.
Specific initiatives to support reintegration will focus on better coordination of services across government and community agencies, a pilot project for supported accommodation for high-need offenders, more self-care facilities in prisons and improvements to training and employment programmes.
I have also asked Associate Corrections Minister Hon Mita Ririnui to address the disproportionate representation of Maori in the corrections system. His work will build on the research already done in this area.
In terms of my responsibility under section 39 of the Public Finance Act 1989 to present and publish information on the Department's future operating intentions, I certify that the information in this Statement of Intent is consistent with the policies and performance expectations of the Government.
Hon Paul Swain
Minister of Corrections