Prisoner drug treatment up from 234 to 4,700

May 6th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

More than 50 per cent of crime was committed by people under the influence of and two-thirds of prisoners had substance abuse problems, the Corrections Service national commissioner Jeremy Lightfoot said.

Because of that, addressing alcohol and other drug abuse among offenders significantly contributed towards the department’s goal to reduce reoffending by 25 per cent in the next three years, he said.

“We are now over half way to achieving this target and re-offending has fallen by over 12 per cent against the June 2011 benchmark.

As a result, there were 2319 fewer offenders and 9276 fewer victims of crime each year.

All positive.

In 2009 nearly $2.7m was spent on drug treatment in New Zealand prisons.

By last year that had increased to $5.3m.

All prisons had recently introduced treatment programmes, he said.

“All prisoners are now screened for alcohol and drug problems when they enter prison which allows staff to make appropriate decisions on the amount of support required.

“This means that every prisoner now undergoes screening for addictions, health, mental health and education when they enter a corrections facility.”

Should have happened a long time ago.

In the 2013-14 financial year more than 3700 prisoners will have access to treatment for their addictions rising to 4700 next year.

That leapt from just 234 in 2007-08.

Labour talked the talk when it came to , but never walked the walk.

11 Responses to “Prisoner drug treatment up from 234 to 4,700”

  1. Odakyu-sen (3,192 comments) says:

    Do people commit crime because they are under the influence of drugs, or are the sort of people who chose to commit crime also those who chose to take drugs?

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  2. burt (11,453 comments) says:


    I think it’s a case of needing to commit crime to get sufficient funds to pay the prices demanded by the gangs.

    Growing a kg of pot costs no more than growing a kg of tomatoes. But the gangs can’t charge you $10K for a kg of tomatoes.

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  3. burt (11,453 comments) says:

    A big question;

    Do the gangs lobby political parties ?

    On Stuff;

    “I personally will never support the legalisation of drugs in New Zealand as long as I am prime minister in Parliament,” he said yesterday.

    Good one John, lets make sure the cashflow to the gangs isn’t interrupted by the laws your government pass.

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  4. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (1,295 comments) says:

    Wait for the messiah to take credit, Greens to scream human right violations and Winston to claim that this is part of Oravida scandal….Paddy Gower to come up with twitter message and Campbell to cry on Campbell Dead show….you just CANNOT win against these nutters…..

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  5. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Whilst this is good to see, there is a negative factor that needs to be considered when looking at the rise in treatment numbers.

    It is well known that offenders who seek the option of attending drug and alcohol courses are viewed more favourably in sentencing options, and by the parole board if they have completed the course.

    It is also well known that unless a person is actually willing to change their habits, attending a course won’t do a damn bit of good in the long term.

    Unfortunately the second factor is not realised by the people responsible for administering sentences and offenders still manage to screw the system by faking adherence to D & A terms in their sentences. The fact that it has become a more popular means to reduce ones sentence is reflected in the greater numbers using the service, and the same number still using drugs after sentence completion.

    Re-offending has fallen, but I doubt very much this is much of a contributing factor. It has reduced world wide, and factors like the three strikes rule are more likely to have influenced the stats.

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  6. kowtow (13,197 comments) says:

    On GD the Beige Badger posted the gummint is sweeping drug stuff under the carpet!

    Richard Cranium.

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  7. GPT1 (2,155 comments) says:

    I am pretty critical of a number of reforms National has imposed upon the wider Justice/Courts Sector. This however is, as best as I can tell, an unmitigated success deserving of the highest praise. Ultimately it is up to the punters to choose whether they take advantage of the help that is available but for the first time a Judge can impose a term of imprisonment not just to give the community a break until next round but knowing that the help that is needed is almost certainly available. It is only a few years ago that many prison sentences were accompanied by the hopeful plea from a Judge that corrections would prioritise drug and alcohol assistance – a nearly futile gesture (especially for relatively short sentences). Now there are even courses and supports available on remand – prisoners are coming to sentencing (admittedly that motivates them to say the right thing) having completed 4 or 6 week alcohol and drug programmes and actually talking about taking advantage of both in prison and release support. It may not be a silver bullet but it’s a bloody good start.

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  8. DJP6-25 (1,779 comments) says:

    Good idea.

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  9. Rex Widerstrom (5,113 comments) says:

    I wasn’t all that impressed with Tolley as Education Minister… she was by no means the worst we’ve ever had but was far from the best.

    But she is shaping up to be the single best Corrections Minister NZ has had, certainly in my memory.

    If she’s willing to set aside prejudice and ignore the whining about “mollycoddling crims” in favour of evidence-based policy that reduces the risk of re-offending then that’s the kind of attitude I want in a PM. Not Collins’ posturing, Joyce’s Machiavelli lite, or, god forbid, Bridges’ Winston-like “never seen a mirror he didn’t admire”.

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  10. Nostalgia-NZ (6,432 comments) says:

    Log in in a future non offending strategy along with the drug and alcohol programmes, produce the carrot and the 25% target may appear to have been modest. Of course only for those that want it, start splitting the ranks about what a future without crime can achieve. Anyway, certainly the right track to a safer society and less costs.

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  11. Jack5 (9,285 comments) says:

    Isn’t going to jail the cold-turkey treatment they need?

    What happened to the country where if you had an addiction problem (those days always alcohol) you did something about it yourself, or went to a self-help group like AA?

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