Suitable, low-risk prisoners will be eligible for earlier release if they successfully complete training and treatment plans and have a low risk of reoffending, National Party Corrections spokesperson Louise Upston says.
“Rehabilitation programmes work, so we want more prisoners to complete them. They help prisoners prepare for life outside prison, give them skills to get a job, and help stop reoffending,” Ms Upston says.
“National will introduce the Positive Pathways programme to incentivise more prisoners to complete personalised rehabilitation and training programmes, improving their chances of remaining crime-free when they are released to further reduce crime and improve public safety.
“We will also invest an extra $48 million in rehabilitation and reintegration programmes over the next four years to deliver another 6000 places. That’s on top of National’s major investment in rehabilitation, which has seen the number of offenders in training or treatment programmes almost triple since 2008.
“We know these programmes work. Since 2011, we’ve reduced the number of people reoffending by 26 per cent – that’s 38,000 fewer victims of crime.”
Under Positive Pathways, prisoners whose sentences are two years or less and who successfully complete their training and treatment plan will be eligible for release 10 per cent earlier than under current settings.
Prisoners serving more than two years will get an individualised training and treatment plan from Corrections and will receive early feedback from the Parole Board on this plan to better prepare them for when they become eligible for parole. Successful completion of that programme will trigger an earlier parole hearing – early release is not guaranteed and minimum non-parole periods will remain unchanged.
Only prisoners with a low risk of reoffending will be eligible for an earlier release, and Judges will also have the discretion to exclude offenders at sentencing.
“We are not making sentences shorter. Instead prisoners can serve a greater portion of their sentence in the community, subject to appropriate monitoring. They will be subject to immediate recall to prison if they breach their conditions or reoffend,” Ms Upston says.
“The requirements for early release will be set by Corrections in training and treatment plans that are tailored to each individual prisoner. In addition to industry, treatment and learning programmes, community and family-focused programmes can also be included in an individual prisoner’s plan.
“Part of the new investment in rehabilitation will also be targeted at more support for prisoners when they leave jail to stop them from returning.
“Public safety will always remain National’s bottom line – but in many cases public safety is enhanced by undertaking rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, and controlled release into the community,” Ms Upston says.