14 Apr 2009

Sharples calls for Maori-only prisoner rehab centre

9:55 pm on 14 April 2009

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples wants an alternative rehabilitation centre to be established for Maori prisoners.

He says a not-yet-issued report by the Corrections Department suggests that inmates in Maori focus units are 7% less likely to re-offend than those in the general prison population.

Dr Sharples wants more focus units and an alternative rehabilitation centre for Maori prisoners in the final period of their prison term.

He says the centres would take a mixture of low- and high-risk offenders and be completely independent of existing prisons.

The proposal is in the early stages, but the minister says it already has support from the department.

June Jackson backs the idea

The idea has won support from Maori community leader June Jackson - the longest-serving member of the Parole Board - who says she personally favours Maori taking a more active role in the corrections sector.

Ms Jackson told Waatea News, however, that inmates' problems can't be solved in isolation: they require a wraparound approach, especially if there are unresolved drug and alcohol issues.