21 May 2012

Govt pledges to reduce reoffending

10:43 pm on 21 May 2012

The Government says it will reduce reoffending by 25% in the next five years with the help of reprioritised money in the Budget.

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley made the announcement at Rimutaka Prison on Monday afternoon, saying a 25% reduction in reoffending is bold but achievable, with reprioritised funding of $65 million in operating expenditure over the next four years.

Mrs Tolley says the money will go towards a boost in alcohol and drug treatment, increased education, skills training and employment programmes for inmates.

The minister says two-thirds of prisoners have addiction problems and up to 90% can't read or write well.

By addressing those issues, alongside increased employment opportunities, the likelihood of reoffending can be reduced, she says.

Corrections chief executive Ray Smith says increased treatment for drug and alcohol will soon be available to all prisoners, as well as more education about their effects.

Mr Smith says the funding will also support prisoners into jobs, thanks to new partnerships with employers and industries.

The department is making savings by closing some prisons or units, and cutting out middle managers.

Sandie Finnigan, clinical manager of the drug and alcohol unit at Rimutaka Prison, supports increasing rehabilitation services.

Ms Finnigan says all incoming prisoners will be screened for drug and alcohol abuse before assessing what treatment they need.

She says the unit educates prisoners with drug and alcohol problems so they can understand why they are in their situation and how to move forward.

The Budget will be delivered on Thursday afternoon.