New Zealand's approach to a high-risk offender supervision program.

Author:Evans, Donald G.
Position:Probation and Parole Forum

Much attention is being given to the supervision of high-risk offenders in community settings. The emphasis on public safety and security of victims and communities has made probation departments worldwide examine their supervision approaches to high-risk offenders. Generally, high-risk offender programs attempt to manage offenders who are at a greater risk to re-offend by committing violent or sexual offenses. The New Zealand Department of Corrections, which comprises the prison service and the community probation service, specifices that its mission is to contribute to safer communities by ensuring:

* The safe, secure and humane containment of inmates;

* The provision of a safe environment for staff and the public;

* That court sentences and orders are properly carried out and complied with; and

* That information is provided to the judiciary to assist sentencing and release decisions.

The department also considers the reduction of re-offending to be an important aspect of contributing to community safety. It aims to reduce re-offending through rehabilitative programs that address the causes of offending, re-integrative services that will prepare offenders for their release into the community, and opportunities for offenders to gain work skills and experience through the provision of offender employment initiatives.

An important part of New Zealand's commitment to reducing re-offending is its endorsement of an evidence-based approach and the application of principles derived from the "what works" research. The DOC believes that positive results in reducing re-offending can occur by identifying offenders who are highly likely to re-offend upon release from prison, the factors associated with offending (thought processes, habits, addictions), the offender's readiness to change and the appropriate treatment program.

However, the department acknowledges that high-risk offenders, especially child sex offenders, pose an added safety risk to community settings. Like other jurisdictions in the world, New Zealand has recently taken steps to improve the supervision of such offenders. At the recent International Corrections and Prisons Association Conference held in Beijing, China, last October, Katrina Casey, general manager for probation and offender services in the New Zealand DOC, outlined the department's recent developments and strategies for supervising high-risk offenders. Casey is responsible for the community probation service...

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