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Corrections System

Source: New Zealand Official Yearbook 2000. Please note, this information may now be out of date.

The Department of Corrections manages all custodial and non-custodial sentences imposed by the courts on offenders. This includes prison and community-based corrections.

There are eight services and groups in the department which work to reduce re-offending. They are: Public Prisons Service, Community Probation Service, Psychological Service, Policy Development, Service Purchase and Monitoring, Strategic Development, Finance, which includes Corrland (responsible for the department's forests and farms), and Internal Audit.

Community Probation Service

Community Probation Service's purpose is to reduce re-offending by encouraging positive change in the lives of offenders and by facilitating offender reparation to the community.

The service manages community-based sentences for 22,600 people on average monthly. This includes periodic detention, community service, supervision, community programmes, and services to parolees including home detention.

Public Prisons Service

The Public Prisons Service is responsible for the safe, secure and humane containment of sentenced and remand inmates.

There are 17 prisons capable of housing about 5,900 sentenced inmates and remandees with a variety of security classifications. There are two separate women's prisons and a women's wing at Mt Eden. There are about 2,700 staff members.

Prisons provide a wide range of work, training and specialist programmes to assist inmates rehabilitate.

Detention in a penal institution

The sentences of imprisonment which judges may impose are set out in the Criminal Justice Act 1985 and amendments to it.

Courts of New Zealand

Census of prison inmates

The following statistics are taken from the census of inmates carried out on 20 November 1997 and published in the Ministry of Justice's Census of Prison Inmates 1997.

In total, there were 4,935 sentenced inmates, comprising 207 females and 4,728 males. In addition, there were 529 remand inmates within the prisons (13 female and 516 male) making a total of 5,464 prisoners.

In total, 491 inmates (10 percent) were under the age of 20, 1,627 inmates (33 percent) were under the age of 25 and 2,628 inmates (53 percent) were under the age of 30. Twenty percent of inmates (993) were 40 years or over.

Of the female inmates whose ethnic group was known, 76 (42 percent) identified themselves as Mäori only, and 67 (37 percent) identified themselves as European only. Of the male inmates whose ethnic group was known, 1,566 (44 percent) identified themselves as Mäori only, and 1,366 (38 percent) identified themselves as European only.

graph, Prison Inmates, 1880-1999

Ministry of Justice


Wherever possible, inmates are given constructive employment with the aim of developing relevant work habits and skills to increase their chances of securing employment on release.

Areas that inmates may work in include (but are not limited to) maintenance of the prison, industrial production, work on farms, forestry or horticulture, and computing (Auckland Prison).

Money earned is banked in a personal trust account and may be spent on personal items through a weekly shopping system.


An inmate charged with an offence against discipline appears either before the Superintendent or a Visiting Justice who may impose a range of penalties if the charge is proven. Allegations of serious criminal offences by inmates are referred to the police for investigation.

Release to work

A small number of selected inmates in the final months of their sentences may be released during the day for outside employment. This assists their re-integration into the community. They are required to contribute to the cost of their board and part of their earnings may also be withheld to fund debts and family expenses.

Financial support on release

Inmates who have been in prison for more than 31 days are eligible on release for the steps to freedom grant which is administered by the New Zealand Income Support Service. This grant provides a maximum of $350 and is abated by any prison earnings the inmate may have.

Psychological Service

There are offices in eight centres and two special units for the treatment of child sex offenders.

The main work of the service is the psychological assessment and treatment of convicted offenders who are either serving a prison sentence or a community-based sentence administered by the Community Probation Service. It also provides psychological assessments for courts at the pre-sentence stage, and for the district prisons boards and the Parole Board to assist in parole decisions.

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