Outcome: Re-offending is Reduced

What the Department is seeking to achieve

The Department improves public safety by reducing re-offending. Reducing re-offending occurs when offenders previously under the control or supervision of the Department go on to live an offence-free life. The number of overall offences and people returning to the corrections system will decrease and, in particular, we will see Mâori re-offending rates reducing significantly.

The Department is effective in reducing re-offending when it helps offenders to recognise and address the causes of their offending. The Department will help offenders to build positive lifestyles by giving them skills to:

  • develop offence-free lifestyles
  • overcome drug and alcohol problems
  • overcome propensities for violence
  • maintain a positive sense of their identity and abilities
  • find stable employment and accommodation
  • build strong pro-social relationships within their family, whânau and community.

What the Department will do to achieve this outcome

What motivates the Department’s staff is the opportunities they have to turn offenders’ lives around. Every interaction staff have with an offender is an opportunity to have a positive influence.

The Department manages offenders in an integrated way that applies across all sentence types, lengths and locations. When offenders are convicted of a crime, they are assessed for their risk of re-offending and their rehabilitative needs. These assessments help judges in their sentencing decisions. They are also used to decide which services the Department can offer to help offenders to address the causes of their offending.

Rehabilitative programmes are targeted toward offenders who are most likely to benefit – those who are otherwise likely to offend and who have expressed a willingness to address factors that led to their offending. The Department delivers a range of rehabilitative programmes and activities that target the causes of offending.

Departmental rehabilitation programmes available to offenders in prison and the community include the Medium Intensity Rehabilitation Programme, men’s and women’s Short Rehabilitation Programmes and the Short Motivational Programme. The Maintenance Programme is available to offenders in the community who have already completed an offence-focused rehabilitation programme.

The Department operates a number of special focus units at prisons to address specific rehabilitation needs of prisoners. These include Mâori Focus Units, a Pacific Focus Unit, Drug Treatment Units, Sex Offender Treatment Units, Special Treatment Units, Violence Prevention Units, Self Care Units, Young Offender Units, Reintegration Units, and a Faith-based Unit.

Reintegrative programmes and activities support offenders by providing them with education, experience and support to help them transition back into the community.

Offenders who are usefully employed are less likely to commit crime. Many offenders, however, lack the educational qualifications and/or the occupational skills required to find work. By assisting offenders to gain work skills and qualifications, the Department helps offenders to find work on release. The Department’s Prisoner Employment Strategy 2009–12 (PDF: 4.7MB) has the goal of providing more prisoners with meaningful work and training to help them find work on release.

Lack of accommodation, unemployment, financial problems, and lack of social support are examples of common problems faced by offenders in the community. Helping offenders to resolve these problems – especially amongst released offenders – is important to reducing their risk of re-offending. The Department provides activities and programmes to help offenders reintegrate into society after completing their sentences.

Mâori and Pacific offenders have a disproportionately high level of representation at all stages of the criminal justice process. The Department’s Mâori Strategic Plan 2008–13 and Pacific Strategic Plan 2008–13 outline the ways the Department will work, and the programmes and services in place, to specifically target Mâori and Pacific offenders’ rehabilitative and reintegrative needs. The Department also seeks advice on how to be more effective for Mâori and Pacific offenders through the Chief Executive’s Mâori and Pacific Advisory Groups, and through working closely with local iwi to deliver services in ways that work best for Mâori.

As with all outcomes, the Department works with other agencies and community groups to meet the challenge of reducing re-offending. In particular, the Department works closely with:

  • the Ministry of Social Development to report and address child abuse and to manage sexual and violent offenders
  • the New Zealand Police, the Ministry of Social Development and Housing New Zealand who are parties to the Agreement for Sharing Information on Child Sex Offenders. Under this agreement, the agencies work together to monitor child-sex offenders' compliance with release conditions, manage the risk posed by such offenders, and facilitate their safe reintegration into the community once released
  • the Ministry of Social Development on employment case management and broker services to prisoners
  • the New Zealand Police to address family violence, such as the Family Safety Team Project
  • a number of agencies on the Combined Law Agency Group to share information and resources to combat organised crime in New Zealand
  • NZ Prisoners’ Aid and Rehabilitation Society (NZPARS) to contribute to a reduction in re-offending by assisting offenders (and their family/whânau) to address practical problems as they reintegrate back into the community or into home detention following their release from prison.

Reducing re-offending is a priority outcome in the 2008–13 Strategic Business Plan. Over the next five years the Department will:

  • continue to evaluate its rehabilitation programmes to ensure they contribute to reducing re-offending, and will change them if they are not. Effectiveness for Mâori is key if the Department is to contribute to a significant reduction in re-offending
  • work better with its partners, including Government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community groups, whânau, hapu and iwi, to deliver services and establish relationships that support offenders to live offence-free lifestyles in their communities on release
  • increase employment opportunities and training for prisoners to help them gain skilled employment on release from prison. Training and employment opportunities provided to offenders will match those demanded by the labour market, ensuring successful and sustainable employment
  • work closely with the health sector to ensure offenders have access to good quality health services
  • work to improve the efficiency, integration and effectiveness of rehabilitation and reintegration systems, rules and processes.

Specific projects that the Department will work on over the medium term to reduce re-offending, include:

  • evaluating the Department’s Mâori Focus Units and Mâori Therapeutic programmes
  • evaluating the Department’s Pacific Focus Unit and the Saili Matagi programme
  • expanding rehabilitative programmes and services for offenders in the community, including domestic violence programmes, and community-based treatment programmes for offenders who sexually offend against children
  • expanding reintegrative programmes and services for offenders in the community, including Tikanga Mâori programmes, Basic Work and Living Skills, and Supported Accommodation
  • implementing the Department’s Prisoner Employment Strategy 2006–2009 and developing a new strategy for 2009–2012
  • increasing the number of offenders on Release to Work to an average of 190 for the financial year, subject to public safety consideration
  • establishing two new Special Treatment Units in prisons, the first to be operational from 1 July 2008 and the second from 1 July 2009
  • evaluating the pilot of the new rehabilitation programme for offenders in the community who are aged under 20 years
  • implementing a consistent nation-wide approach to the management of sex offenders on extended supervision
  • piloting an assessment approach to be used by Probation Officers to monitor dynamic risk factors in offenders, particularly violent offenders
  • implementing a revised integrity monitoring and reporting system for rehabilitation programmes
  • developing and trialling an actuarial measure of risk for further violent offending using criminal histories
  • planning for implementation of the Mothers and Babies Bill in accordance with Government approval, subject to funding
  • implementation of the revised volunteers policy
  • reviewing the alignment, management, integration and resourcing of departmental and NGO-provided reintegration services
  • working to enhance our approach to rehabilitation services to ensure offenders are managed holistically across their sentence.

The Department delivers services on a day-to-day basis grouped as output classes, which contribute to its outcomes. Output classes that contribute to reducing re-offending include:

  • Output Class 6: Prisoner Employment.
  • Output Class 7: Rehabilitative Programmes and Reintegrative Services.

How the Department will demonstrate success in achieving this outcome
The Department will use the following outcome indicator to monitor its contribution to reducing re-offending:

  • rates of recidivism and reconvictions, particularly for Mâori offenders.