New strategy for managing women offenders

  • Louise Upston

Corrections Minister Louise Upston has today launched a new approach to managing women offenders which aims to successfully support them towards a crime-free life.

“The number of women in prison and being managed by Corrections in the community has increased over the last decade or so,” says Ms Upston.

“We need a fresh approach to helping women offenders stop reoffending while holding them to account for their crimes.”

Corrections manages around 750 women in prison and 6000 in the community.

In general, women commit less serious crime and pose a lower risk to the community than men. Research shows that women offenders tend to have complex histories of severe trauma, mental health issues, substance abuse, unhealthy relationships and poverty which have contributed to their offending.

“The new women’s strategy is based on Corrections’ research into what works best and international best practice.

“It acknowledges that women have different needs to men and outlines a new approach that will give women the treatment, support, counselling and skills they need to have a positive impact on themselves, their children, family and whānau, and future generations,” Ms Upston says.

Some of the initiatives for women include developing a new programme for the small group of high-risk women in prison; employing social workers and counsellors in the three women’s prisons to help improve the well-being of prisoners and work with those who have suffered trauma; and contracting to provide supported accommodation for women on electronically monitored bail.

The new approach will provide women offenders with the interventions and services that meet their needs and risks. Women will be managed in ways that acknowledge trauma and empower them to develop confidence in their ability to build a positive life. Women will be encouraged to develop healthy relationships with their children, partners and others.

“While we acknowledge that these woman are being managed by Corrections because they have committed crimes, most will be returning to their homes in the future, or already live in the community. If they can be helped to turn their life around, it benefits not just them and their family but helps make the community a safer place,” Ms Upston says.

The full strategy document is available here: