Foreword - Minister of Corrections

As Minister of Corrections, I’m pleased to present Corrections’ Statement of Intent for 2018-22.

This document outlines the key areas that I expect Corrections to lead and also informs Parliament and the public about Corrections’ activities and how they contribute to wider justice sector outcomes. This Government looks to bring lasting and meaningful reform to the justice system. We inherited a network that was already under stress and heading even further in the wrong direction.

Our current high rates of imprisonment and the significant over-representation of Māori in our prisons are unsustainable. This situation has led to escalating costs for Government, with no corresponding social improvement. It is also diverting effort and
money away from investments that could make a real and positive difference for people affected by crime.

There are many immediate challenges caused by this prison population growth, but also a real opportunity to make a positive change for the lives of these people and for  the safety of our communities. The Government’s goal is to reduce New Zealand’s prison
population by 30 percent over the next 15 years. This is no small feat and it will likely take all of these 15 years to reach this target. We must not only halt the growth in the prison population but find a way to turn it around.

I will be working alongside my Ministerial colleagues to reform the justice sector, while also reducing crime and re-offending. This goal also requires a new direction for prisons in New Zealand, ensuring public safety remains the priority while delivering real rehabilitation, mental health treatment, and housing support to reduce re-offending, support reintegration and deliver transitional services. Corrections’ work programme reflects our priorities and as Minister I expect it to show leadership in each of them.

As I visit prisons and community corrections sites around the country, I see offenders who are willing to transform their lives, and staff eager to help them. To provide lasting transformative changes in their lives we need to put a real focus on rehabilitation before prisoners are released, and also ensure the necessary support systems are in place when they are. I know as a Government we can create the change we need to reduce re- offending and stop people ending up in prison in the first place. Because that is the only lasting way we’re going to get the prison population down and it’s the only way we’re going to see fewer victims and keep our communities safe.

Any successful long term reform of the justice sector will require time, improved  policy settings, and investment in improved capacity. However, this Statement of Intent outlines the first steps on the path towards a more effective, efficient and humane justice system.