Corrections launches new strategy for women offenders

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Corrections Minister Louise Upston has launched a new approach to managing women offenders.

The strategy, Wahine - E rere ana ki te pae hou: Women's Strategy, was launched in Christchurch on 28 August 2017.

Ms Upston said "The number of women in prison and being managed by Corrections in the community has increased over the last decade or so. We need a fresh approach to helping women offenders stop reoffending while holding them to account for their crimes."

Corrections states:

  • "Women’s pathways to offending often differ from men’s in key ways, meaning our responses must also differ
  • Relationships going wrong, lack of emotional and practical support and economic pressures shaped by their experiences are frequent triggers to women’s offending
  • The way women see themselves, their future prospects and their ability to respond to problems plays a key role their ability to stop offending
  • Three-quarters of women in prison have suffered family violence, rape and/or sexual assault
  • 52% of women in prison have post-traumatic stress disorder (compared to 22% of male prisoners)
  • 68% of women in prison have been a victim of family violence
  • Three-quarters of women in prison have diagnosed mental health problems (compared with 61% of men).

The new strategy focuses on making our treatment and management more women-specific to help address issues such as trauma and victimisation, mental health issues, unhealthy relationships, parenting difficulty and stress and financial pressures. There  will be a focus on giving women the treatment, encouragement, counselling, skills and support they need to shape better futures for themselves, their children and their families."

Corrections manages around 750 women in prison and 6000 in the community. Over half the women in prison identify as Māori.

In July, Ms Upston announced a two-year pilot of new services including increased mental health support for prisoners and community-based offenders; counselling and social work support for women prisoners; support in transitioning back into communities for prisoners with severe mental needs; and wrap around support for families of offenders receiving mental health services.

Related research

Aotearoa New Zealand

Professor Tracey McIntosh from the University of Auckland carries out research on issues for women in prison (particularly Māori women in prison) and ex-prisoners, including:

Indigenous Insider Knowledge and Prison Identity (McIntosh and Coster, 2017)

Marginalised: An Insider’s View of the State, State Policies in New Zealand and Gang Formation (Andrae, McIntosh, & Coster, 2017)

Incarceration in New Zealand: Stories of Confinement (seminar given by Tracey McIntosh at the University of Auckland, 2014)

Crime, Imprisonment and Poverty (Workman and McIntosh, 2013 in Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, edited by Max Rashbrooke)

Marginalisation: A Case Study: Confinement (McIntosh, 2011) in Māori and Social Issues (edited by Tracey McIntosh and Malcolm Mulholland) - available for loan from the Clearinghouse library.

International

Women’s Experiences of Abuse as a Risk Factor for Incarceration: A Research Update (VAWnet & NRCDVC, 2015)

Why Opposing Hyper-Incarceration Should be Central to the Work of the Anti-Domestic Violence Movement (Cooker and Macquoid, 2015)

Related media

Fewer women to be jailed under new Government strategy to curb growth in crime, Stuff, 29.08.2017

Corrections trying new approach with wahine prisoners, Waatea News, 29.08.2017

The mothers project in NZ women's prisons, Radio NZ, 18.07.2017

Why more NZ women, particularly Maori are being jailed, Radio NZ, 23.04.2017

Prison worker's grievance fails, Otago Daily Times, 13.07.2017

Complicated love life of Mr X: Prison guard loses his job for sharing intimate details of workmate, Stuff, 12.07.2017