Pubdate: Wed, 22 Mar 2006
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2006 New Zealand Herald
Author: Simon Collins


Prison reformers are welcoming a decision to scrap two prisoner
rehabilitation programmes which appeared to make prisoners more likely
to break the law again after their release.

Corrections Department chief Barry Matthews said the 70-hour "Straight
Thinking" course and 100-hour MPRO (mixed programme) would be replaced
by three new programmes geared to prisoners' different needs.

High-risk offenders would get an intensive 300-hour programme,
medium-risk offenders a 120- to 150-hour programme and others would
get shorter programmes.

"The new programmes will be supported by a relapse prevention
programme for those who complete the programmes. Corrections will also
trial the widespread delivery of a short motivational programme for
short-serving prisoners," Mr Matthews said.

NZ First MP Ron Mark forced Mr Matthews to admit at a parliamentary
hearing last month that prisoners who took either Straight Thinking or
MPRO in 2003-04 reoffended at a higher rate in their first year out of
jail than those who did not take the courses.

Wellington drug and alcohol counsellor Roger Brooking, an outspoken
critic of the short courses, said the shift to a longer, more
intensive programme was "a very significant move".

"It demonstrates to me that they are listening," he

Victoria University criminologist John Pratt said the change would
help the higher-risk offenders but would do little for other prisoners
"who will spend the vast majority of their time doing nothing

Meanwhile the Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Rosslyn Noonan, has
spoken out in support of better literacy education and health care for
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake