Faith-based unit must reduce recidivism

Prison Fellowship New Zealand, which runs the faith-based unit at Rimutaka Prison, has been told it has until May 31 to develop a plan for a rehabilitation component to the services that it already offers. A Corrections Department evaluation conducted last September found the faith-based unit had had no impact on reducing reoffending. The reduction of recidivism has not until this time been stated goal of the programme

Prison Fellowship general manager Robin Gunston  said the Fellowship had welcomed the evaluation and agreed with suggested changes. These included improving communication with Corrections and making sure more prisoners finished the 18-month programme. But Corrections’ demand to include a rehabilitation element was completely at odds with the programme’s purpose. Drug and violence rehabilitation programmes were already offered elsewhere in prison, and the faith-based unit aimed to prepare prisoners for reintegration at the end of their sentence.

The Department says it clearly signalled last November that an amended programme would have to be submitted by May, but Gunston says initially the Fellowship understood it had to introduce the rehabilitation component by the end of May and, if it was not up to Corrections’ standards, a month’s notice would be given of the unit’s closure. He said negotiations with Corrections on Friday had clarified what needed to be done.

Corrections Minster Judith Collins said the faith-based unit did not provide any valuable services that Corrections did not. She called the evaluation “disappointing” and said the programme was clearly not achieving its objective, although faith could have a positive impact in reducing reoffending.


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News category: New Zealand.

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