INDEPENDENT NEWS

Success In The Battle To Stamp Out Drugs In Prison

Published: Wed 13 Sep 2000 02:21 PM
The annual random drug testing figures show the progress in dealing with the prison drug problem, the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson said today.
“In only two years of random inmate drug testing there has been a drop in positive results by 13 percent," said Matt Robson.
"Drugs disrupt prisons and it is heartening to see that the Department is reducing drugs in prisons. But the battle is not over.
"Corrections implemented a comprehensive drug-testing programme in 1998. Positive random drug tests were at 35 percent. In 1999 it fell to 26 percent and in 2000 a 22 percent average was achieved.
"The target for this year was 20 percent, and has only been narrowly missed. This highlights that the strategies to reduce drugs entering and being used in prison are working.”
3564 random tests were carried out from June 1999 to June 2000 and more inmates than ever are being tested.
“Staff commitment to the strategies is highlighted by the Department's introduction of several other initiatives aimed at reducing drug use," said Matt Robson.
Prison visiting
“The new prison visiting system aims to encourage a positive environment for inmates and their families/whanau as family involvement and support is vital in helping inmates address their offending. It also helps minimise the introduction of drugs and other illegal items that visitors bring into prisons.
0800 Jailsafe
"A 0800 Jail Safe number has been set up for inmates, inmate’s families, staff or members of the public so that they can anonymously phone in if they have information relating to the trafficking of drugs into prisons.
“The phone line increases prison safety as often pressure is placed on inmates, staff and their families from both within and outside the prison to bring drugs into prisons.
Alcohol and Drug Treatment
“I was pleased to open the Department's second drug and alcohol treatment unit at Rolleston Prison earlier in the year, and recently a third unit was opened at Ohura Prison. These units follow in the steps of the highly successful Arohata Women’s Prison drug and alcohol unit.
Vehicle checkpoints
“Visitor vehicle checkpoints cut down the amount of drugs brought into prisons by visitors. The Department's five narcotics detection dog teams and crime prevention officers are also working throughout our prisons to stop contraband entering prison premises.
"We are committed to doing everything we can to not only stamp out drugs in prison, but work with inmates to address their drug and alcohol dependency problems," said Matt Robson.
Ends
Second year random drug testing figures by prison
Prison Numbers tested % positive result
(1 June 99 – 30 June 00)
Auckland Maximum 168 6 %
Auckland medium 321 19%
Mt Eden 177 44%
Mt Eden Female 7 14%
Waikeria 502 27%
Tongariro/Rangipo 330 24%
Ohura 57 12%
Hawkes Bay Regional 270 24%
New Plymouth 71 32%
Wanganui 205 26%
Manawatu 132 28%
Arohata 86 9 %
Wellington 102 15%
Rimutaka 273 31%
Christchurch Male 444 22%
Christchurch Women’s 61 10%
Rolleston 226 7%
Dunedin 26 15%
Invercargill 106 12%
TOTAL 3564 Average 22%
NB: Care has to be taken when looking at trends and patterns as the random drug testing figures have only been collated for two years.
Reasons for prison variations
 The Department is following up with analysis of variations between prisons as the random drug testing programme continues.
 Variations may be related more to differing sample size than differing rates of drug use.
 There are more positive tests among remand inmates because of the high turnover with this category of inmate (80 percent spend less than three-months in prison). This means they do not get the full benefit of management and treatment programmes and there is not the same incentive to commit to getting off drugs as sentenced inmates.
 Remand inmates also have more visits than sentenced inmates (more chances for visitors to try to bring in drugs)
 Prisons which have perimeter fences make it harder for drugs to be left on prison grounds by other people
 Prisons which have self care units, or drug free units, where inmates have to volunteer to be tested more frequently to get into the units – these inmates will be more likely to return a negative result.

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