WELLINGTON, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Suitable, low-risk prisoners will be eligible for earlier release in New Zealand, if they complete training and treatment plans and have a low risk of reoffending, Corrections Minister Louise Upston said on Wednesday.
"Rehabilitation programs 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," Upston said in a statement.
The ruling National Party will introduce the Positive Pathways program to incentivize more prisoners to complete personalized rehabilitation and training programs, improving their chances of remaining crime-free when they are released to further reduce crime and improve public safety, Upston said.
Since 2011, New Zealand reduced the number of people reoffending by 26 percent, which is 38,000 fewer victims of crime, she said.
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 percent earlier than under current settings.
Prisoners serving more than two years will get an individualized training and treatment plan from the Corrections Department and will receive early feedback from the Parole Board on this plan to better prepare them for when they become eligible for parole, according to the plan.
Successful completion of that program will trigger an earlier parole hearing. Early release is not guaranteed and minimum non-parole periods will remain unchanged, it said.
"We are not making sentences shorter," Upston said, adding that instead prisoners can serve a greater portion of their sentence in the community, subject to appropriate monitoring, and they will be subject to immediate recall to prison if they breach their conditions or reoffend.
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, she said.