New focus on re-integration and community management to reduce re-offending

  • Hon Kelvin Davis

Creating a more efficient justice system, investing in community housing, and additional funding to safely manage offenders on community-based sentences are important first steps in reducing New Zealand’s prison population, says Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis.

“The Coalition Government is committed to reducing re-offending as we deal with the prison muster, which has increased significantly over the last nine years,” says Kelvin Davis.

“Our goal is to reduce New Zealand’s prison population by 30 per cent over the next 15 years. To achieve this, we need to ensure there are safe and effective alternatives to prison, while also reducing crime and re-offending.

“The people who need to be in prison will be in prison. But we will also make sure support is in place to help prevent re-offending, and that offenders who meet the criteria for staying in the community are able to do so safely.

“A lack of appropriate housing, due to the housing crisis, has made re-integration increasingly difficult.

“Budget 2018 sets aside $57.6 million over the next four years to provide housing and support services for over 300 people a year, tailored to meet individual needs.

“This initiative will be delivered in partnership by Corrections and Housing New Zealand. As investments in public housing make more properties available, other providers funded by Corrections can deliver services alongside them.

“Participants will be supported into training and employment, and will be able to access health services, develop life skills, address the causes of their offending, and build relationships with their whānau and communities.

“We will always make sure the public is safe. This is about making sure the system is working effectively within the current law,” says Kelvin Davis.

Budget 2018 provides an additional $127.9 million for other initiatives to manage community-based sentences. This includes:

  • $82.7 million for probation and community services, including 270 more probation officers by 2022
  • $8.6 million to bring the total number of defendants on electronically monitored bail to 1,000
  • $6.7 million to maintain and expand residential alcohol treatment services.

Budget 2018 also includes $198.4 million of new capital expenditure to accommodate an additional 600 prisoner places in rapid-build modular units in prisons by the end of 2019. We are also committing $316.1 million over four years for the operating costs of the rising prison population.

“Government spending on prisons has been described as a moral and fiscal failure. Budget 2018 marks the start of this Government’s plans to reform New Zealand’s Corrections landscape,” says Kelvin Davis.

Note to editors:

Initiatives being developed to improve efficiency in the justice system include:

  • enabling bail at the earliest opportunity by ensuring administrative issues are not preventing or delaying those who are eligible being released on bail
  • providing additional support for defendants on bail to increase their compliance with conditions and reduce the likelihood of future offending
  • establishing a clear process for Police Prosecutions and court staff to speed up the scheduling of court appearances and reduce court delays for those remanded in custody
  • considering how to replicate the success of Alcohol and Drug Courts in rehabilitating offenders in other courts.

The rapid prison builds funded through Budget 2018 are in addition to builds already planned or under way at a number of prisons by the end of 2019.

The Government is yet to make a decision about the Waikeria prison proposal. The contingency created in Budget 2017 remains available.