Prison ratings show ups and downs

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 28/08/2013

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The Invercargill Prison has dropped its performance in the past three months while the Otago Corrections Facility has improved, the Department of Corrections says.

A three-monthly performance table issued by the department yesterday says Invercargill Prison has dropped a category while the Otago Corrections Facility has jumped from the bottom category to exceeding its performance targets.

Each prison is given a performance grade of exceptional, exceeding, effective, or needs improvement, based on a range of custodial and rehabilitation performance indicators.

The table shows that in March Invercargill Prison was rated as exceeding performance targets, but in June it had been downgraded one notch to being "effective".

The Otago Corrections Facility, however, improved two categories in the three months, from "needs improvement" to exceeding performance targets.

A prison's performance can be affected by the number of assaults on staff and prisoners in both the serious and non-serious categories, the percentage of prisoners progressing in literacy and education and the number of self-harm threat-to-life incidents.

The Department of Corrections regional commissioner for the Southern region, Ian Bourke, said both prisons were doing well.

Invercargill Prison's grade declined slightly because of a problem with the delivery of an education programme. Work was under way to deal with the areas of concern, he said.

The improved grade of the Otago Corrections Facility reflected the fact there had been fewer adverse incidents at the prison, he said. Neither prison had any escapes, walkaways or unnatural deaths in the past year. 

PRISON'S PROGRESS

The Department of Corrections uses three steps to determine a prison's overall rating: At the first level key security measures like escapes and unnatural deaths will be checked.

If any of these happen, the prison will be classified as needing improvement, no matter how well it is doing in the next two measures.

At the next level, internal prison matters like the number of complaints, drug-testing results, and assaults are measured.

If these are not up to standard, the prison will be classified as needing improvement.

The third level measures some aspects of the ultimate goal of reducing re-offending, by increasing participation in programmes allowing prisoners to gain job skills and real jobs.

Source: Department of Corrections 

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