National Committee calls for better access to addiction treatment for inmates

The National Committee for Addiction Treatment has called for better access to addiction treatment for prison inmates.

It has also expressed extreme concern for inmates under the age of 19 and has called for strong focus to engage young offenders into rehab.

This follows the release of videos online showing inmates participating in fights and revelations that SERCO has failed in its effort to effectively run and monitor inmate’s activity.

More recently claims of inmates being involved in “dropping” in prisons, making their own and having access to tobacco and alcohol within prison walls have also surfaced.

According to the Corrections Minister, Sam Lotu-liga, SERCO has been fined $300,000 for breaching its contract with the Government.

According to the National Committee for Addiction Treatment the breaches at Mt Eden Correctional Facility for the 2014/15 financial year included understaffing mixing remand prisoners with other prisoners, failing to give” minimum entitlements” and not giving adequate notification about incidents.

The National Committee says if the Government truly intends to reach its target of reducing reoffending by 25% by 2017 for youth it needs to ensure provision of alcohol and drug rehabilitation programmes to offenders or those on a community sentence.

According to the group, supporting inmates into recovery from addiction reduces family violence, re- offending, and helps them to find a job once released.  It breaks the cycle of violence, welfare dependency, poverty, and offending.