This report seeks to provide a 10-year update of what it could mean for New Zealand’s criminal justice system to look Beyond the Prison Gate. It is released on the cusp of 2017, a year of particular significance because it marks the deadline for the Government’s Better Public Services target to reduce the composite reoffending rate by 25%—a target that looks increasingly out of our grasp. 2017 also marks the year in which New Zealand’s prison population is likely to reach a record muster of 10,000 inmates, prompting further spending on New Zealand’s prisons with a price tag in the billions.
The report looks at the experiences of past inmates for a first-hand look at how the system impacts those who have been released and how things might be improved. It argues the system is failing prisoners and the public.
- That the New Zealand Government commits to a cross-party Justice Re-Investment Strategy that aims to:
- Reduce spending on custodial prison services and increase public safety.
- Re-invest savings in strategies that can decrease crime, reduce reoffending, and strengthen neighbourhoods and communities, particularly those disproportionately impacted by imprisonment and reoffending.
- That the Department of Corrections makes it standard practice that:
- Every prisoner leaving prison has or is supported to apply for a form of ID accepted by most major banks and agencies.
- Every prisoner leaving prison has been able to set up their benefit (if required) prior to their release.
- Navigation services are extended and are available to all prisoners on their release.
- That the Department of Corrections ensures all ex-prisoners are provided with six months of accommodation or the means for stable accommodation.
- Review the operation of the current clean slate regime and consider a tiered model similar to the UK Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
- Create post-prison public/private industry schemes that will employ prisoners for six months before release and 12 months post release if they have no other employment, dependent on not reoffending.
- A core goal of reintegration strategy is aligned with whānau ora to empower communities and extended families (whānau) to support families within the community context, rather than individuals within an institutional context.
- That a New Zealand-based ‘Community Action for the Reintegration of Ex-Offenders’ (CARE) Network is developed.
- That every person leaving prison should have a sponsor or mentor from a community reintegration service under the umbrella of CARE.
- That the Department of Corrections makes reducing racial inequalities in reoffending an urgent strategic priority.
- That the Department of Corrections engages with and adequately resources alternative methods of whānau, hapu/iwi and communityled reintegration services, and recognises the fundamental role of whānau and whanaungatanga in the social integration of Māori ex-prisoners.
- The Department of Corrections creates a coherent, integrated and well-funded long-term strategy in partnership with the Ministry of Health and District Health Boards to prisoner and ex-prisoner health and well-being and that of their families and whanau.
- That the National Health Council’s recommendations in its 2010 report ‘Health in Justice Kia Piki te Ora, Kia Tika!’ are fully adopted.