Drivers of Crime: Prisoner rehab boost aims to cut reoffending

  • Judith Collins

Doubling the number of prisoners receiving drug and alcohol rehabilitation is targeting one of the key drivers of crime, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said today.

Drugs and alcohol are major drivers of crime in New Zealand and two-thirds of prisoners entered prison with drug and alcohol problems.

As part of the Drivers of Crime strategy, the Government is doubling the number of places within prison drug treatment units. In 2009/10 Corrections spent $137.5 million on rehabilitation and reintegration. This is 15 percent of its budget.

“Research has shown that when prisoners kick their drug and alcohol habits, they are much less likely to end up back in prison,” Ms Collins said.

“The Department’s Drug Treatment Programmes have been shown to reduce re-offending by up to a third,” Ms Collins said.

Last year Drug Treatment Units opened at Auckland and Otago Prisons. A third unit, scheduled to open at Whanganui Prison later this year, will bring the total number of units to nine.

These new units are targeting short-serving prisoners, who have not previously been eligible for treatment, by offering a shorter, but equally intensive, three-month programme.

In addition to boosting drug and alcohol rehabilitation, the Government is increasing the number of prisoners learning work skills by 1,000 by the end of the year.

“Over 70 percent of all sentenced prisoners are now engaged in some form of prison employment or job training. Prisoners are much less likely to reoffend if they are able to get a job when they are released,” Ms Collins said.