Nature and scope of function

The Department of Corrections is responsible for managing some of New Zealand’s most challenging people. At any given point in time we manage, on average, 43,239 offenders: 8,729 are held in our prisons, and 34,510 are managed in the community, serving a community-based sentence or order.

We employ around 7,300 people who work with offenders in our 19 prisons and 126 community probation sites throughout the country.

The Department’s work is carried out in accordance with the purposes and principles set out in sections 5 and 6 of the Corrections Act 2004.

Under the Corrections Act 2004, the purpose of the Department is to improve public safety and contribute to the maintenance of a just society by:

  • assisting in the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community through the provision of programmes and other interventions
  • ensuring that the custodial sentences and community-based sentences and orders imposed by the courts and the New Zealand Parole Board are administered in a safe, secure, humane, and effective manner
  • providing for corrections facilities to be operated in accordance with the Corrections Act 2004 that are based, amongst other matters, on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners
  • providing information to the courts and the New Zealand Parole Board to assist them in decision-making.

In meeting this purpose, we observe the following principles:

  • maintaining public safety
  • considering victims’ interests
  • taking account of the cultural background, ethnicity and language of offenders
  • providing access where appropriate to restorative justice
  • recognising and involving offenders’ families
  • ensuring fair treatment of offenders
  • providing access to rehabilitative and reintegrative support
  • encouraging and supporting contact between offenders and their families where appropriate.