Corrections Minister Judith Collins today opened a new Drug Treatment Unit (DTU) at Whanganui Prison which will provide specialist drug treatment for around 130 prisoners a year.
The DTU is the third such facility opened in the past 16 months. Otago Corrections Facility opened its DTU in June 2010 while Auckland Prison’s DTU was opened in November last year. The Whanganui DTU brings to nine the number of DTUs in New Zealand prisons.
The three new DTUs deliver condensed three-month treatment programmes, giving many prisoners on shorter sentences access to a programme they had not previously been eligible for.
“This means Corrections is able to treat younger prisoners serving their first sentence and could help prevent them from establishing a life-long pattern of addiction and crime,” Ms Collins said.
The Whanganui DTU will operate within the prison’s Maori Focus Unit, but will be available to all prisoners. Treatment will include a combination of tikanga principles and clinical intervention.
Ms Collins said the opening showed the Government is delivering on its promise of doubling the number of prisoners who will receive drug and alcohol treatment annually from 500 to 1000.
“This is a very important goal if we are serious about reducing the number of offenders. Drugs and alcohol are major drivers of crime in New Zealand and two-thirds of prisoners enter prison with drug and alcohol problems.
“These Drug Treatment Units reduce reoffending by a third. They have been highly successful in helping prisoners kick their alcohol and drug addictions, and lead law-abiding lives.”