Rehabilitation programme 'increased reoffending'
By IAN STEWARD - The Press | Tuesday, 17 July 2007
A programme to rehabilitate criminals made youths and "high-risk" adults more likely to reoffend than those not involved, says an official memorandum.
A Probation and Offender Services memo, obtained under the Official Information Act, said results for the Corrections Department's "criminogenic" programmes were poor.
The author of the memo, Community Probation and Psychological Services Manager Katrina Casey, yesterday confirmed the programmes had the opposite effect to that intended.
Graduates were "offending more than the control group who didn't go through the programme", she said.
Casey said the "ineffective" programmes had been stopped in late 2005, once the negative results were revealed.
It could not be confirmed last night how many offenders went through the programme. The results were for all the 100-hour programmes delivered to offenders in prison and in the community, and also the structured individual programmes delivered to offenders in the community.
"When all 100-hour programmes are combined, the negative effect is statistically significant," the memo said.
It said the results were worse for young offenders (under 20 years) and for those with a very high risk of reoffending. The paper noted there was "currently no alternative criminogenic programme for young offenders in the community".
National Party justice and corrections spokesman Simon Power said the department had got it "embarrassingly wrong" and instead of trying to fix the problem, its approach was to "do nothing".
"Surely attempts at rehabilitation are most effective when they are targeted at young offenders before they end up in prison," Power said.
Casey said other non-departmental services, particularly drug and alcohol programmes, had been available to offenders in the interim.
Casey said a new programme was being planned that would be more intensive, although she admitted the new one could also fail.
"It's possible with any intervention. It's always a concern we have," she said. "We have to do this properly and learn from the past. Is it going to be easy? No, absolutely not, but we're a bit older and a bit wiser now."
Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft said youth was the time a person was most receptive to education.
"It's the group we can help," he said.
Becroft said about 60 14, 15 and 16-year-olds were sent to adult prison every year.