Re-offenders decrease by 25 per cent

  • Judith Collins

The number of people going on to re-offend after completing a sentence has decreased by 25 per cent from 2011, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said today.

“This is excellent progress, and I’m very proud of the hard work the Department of Corrections has done to get to this point. Reducing re-offending is hugely important because less crime means fewer victims and safer communities.”

Corrections aims to reduce re-offending by 25 per cent by 2017.  As of December 2015, the rate of re-offending has fallen by 6.8 per cent since 2011. 

“Unfortunately the re-offending rate is affected by a small group of individuals who are offending more often and more seriously.”

A number of factors influence re-offending rates. These include shifts in the demographics of New Zealand’s offender population, changes in external drivers such as policing and sentencing trends, and changes to criminal justice legislation. The successful rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders helps to drive re-offending rates down.

“Corrections is working to break the cycle of re-offending. Well-designed and delivered rehabilitation programmes have a real effect on re-offending.”

 “For example, working prisons have been introduced, which help ensure prisoners are released with employable skills.”

Last year Corrections intensified efforts to reduce re-offending, with a 20 per cent increase in the number of offenders completing rehabilitation programmes.

Gang members are heavily represented in the prison population. Close to one third of the prison population are in gangs. Gang offenders re-offend at twice the rate of non-gang offenders, and with increasing seriousness. Tackling the gang problem will go some way towards reducing re-offending.

Drug and alcohol abuse are also major drivers of crime. More than 50 per cent of crime is committed by people under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Tackling drug and alcohol addiction can contribute to people leading an offence-free life once they leave prison. Corrections has increased its drug and alcohol treatment programmes, both in prisons and for offenders in the community.

“It’s likely that the goal of reducing re-offending by 25 per cent will be achieved, but it will take longer than planned. Regardless, the goal has provided a clear vision for Corrections staff.  It has transformed the way they work and achieved great results so far,” Ms Collins says.