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Prison growth, prisoner support in budget

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/05/2017 Karen Sweeney

The government looks to have a bet each way on justice in this year's budget.

On top of $763 million in capital spending allocated to increase prison capacity there's also millions set aside for rehabilitation programmes to support prisoners on the outside and initiatives to reduce youth offending.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce rejected the move was a sign the government's attempt to reduce reoffending were failing.

"Obviously we don't want to see [the prison population] grow but we have a responsibility in the public safety area," he said.

"We're trying to do two things at once - on one hand maintain the right level of capacity but on the other hand, yes, we're working very hard to reduce the level of reoffending."

Mr Joyce's first budget includes a $32.9m programme targeting burglars under the age of 25, who he claims have a high risk of committing more crime long-term.

It includes increasing the availability of reintegration services for prisoners transitioning back to the community.

A further $13.9 million will provide professional youth mentoring, cognitive behavioural therapy and functional family therapy targeted at youth offenders.

Correction Minister Louise Upston says infrastructure upgrades will also enhance the security of staff, prisoners and the public.

There's also funding to support prisoners on the inside, including $30.2m to manage prisoner self-harm and suicide risks, address drug and alcohol abuse and violence.

"We want prisoners in Corrections' care to be better equipped for life in the community when they come out."

Court security will also be upgraded with $11.9m over two years for additional personnel.

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