Reducing Reoffending Statistic Challenged - Prison-Based Rehabilitation Not the Answer
31st August 2014
In Rethinking’s latest blog, http://blog.rethinking.org.nz/2014/08/th-bps-reducing-crime-and-reoffending.html
it closely examines the current claim that reoffending in New Zealand has reduced by 12.5% since June 2011, and reveals
how that figure has been achieved. It argues that the actual reduction in reoffending by ex-prisoners over three years
is in the order of 5.51% or an average of 1.8% per annum. The reduction in community –based offending is in the order of
13.6% over three years, or 4.5% per annum, due primarily to an increase in alternative dispositions by the Police.
The public however, have been led to believe that the reduction is largely due to in-prison rehabilitation. This
misrepresentation is leading to a view that ‘prison works’, and that prisons are the default location for offender
rehabilitation. That has led to a serious investment imbalance, with a severe shortage of community based rehabilitation
provision, and the potential for the prison population to increase even further.
Rethinking calls for a post-election review of the BPS Reducing Crime and Reoffending Plan, which would include
reviewing its communication strategy, its goals (including a new goal to reduce imprisonment), a cost-benefit analysis
of existing programmes, and the establishment of an independent external evaluation mechanism for all rehabilitation
programmes. It should also consider whether justice resources are being invested in the right places, and a review of
the purpose of prison.