Of almost 9000 prisoners, over half are Māori, and keeping them from returning to prison is proving to be a challenge for Corrections Department in achieving its 25% reduction in re-offending.
Seeing less and less people returning to prison by 2017 is the ultimate goal.
Don Hutana says, “Although I do see the merits in that goal, I can't say yet whether it's working because I'm still seeing lots of them coming back every month, one on average a month at least in Te Tirohanga, the Māori unit at Hawke's Bay.”
In the last five years the prison population has increased by 326 inmates but Corrections say re-offending rates have dropped by 10% since June 2011.
George Massingham from Te Ara Poutama says, “That's measured on a 15-month lag time, so if you get released today, in 15 months’ time if you haven't come back you're a success.”
Last year, almost 70% of inmates who began a term of imprisonment had been sentenced previously.
Don Hutana says, “In the short term, we would like the minister to meet with us the workers who have been here for ages so that he knows the struggles that we are dealing with.”
With a variety of rehabilitation programmes available to inmates, it's hoped they will help reduce imprisonments resulting in fewer victims.