The Department of Corrections (Ara Poutama Aotearoa) is part of the national public service of New Zealand. Its core responsibility is the management of the New Zealand corrections system which includes the Prison Service and the Probation Service – which manages offenders in the community. The Department was established on 1 October 1995, following government decisions on the recommendations of the Review of the New Zealand Department of Justice in 1994. In effect the Department of Justice was divided into the Department of Corrections and the Ministry of Justice.Its role and functions were defined and clarified with the passing of the Corrections Act 2004. In early 2006, the Department officially adopted the Māori name Ara Poutama Aotearoa.
History The Department of Corrections was formed in 1995, by the Department of Justice (Restructuring) Act 1995. Prior to this prisons, the probation system and the courts were all managed by the Department of Justice. The new Act gave management of prisoners, parolees and offenders on probation to a new Department of Corrections while leaving administration of the court system and fines collection with the Ministry of Justice. The intention was to enable the new Department to improve public safety and assist in the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders.
In 2000, an approach based on enhanced computerized access to information about offenders was tried. The new chief executive of the department, Mark Byers, introduced a $40 million scheme designed to reduce re-offending called Integrated Offender Management (IOM). At the time it was described as "the biggest single initiative the department has undertaken to reduce reoffending". Seven years later, Greg Newbold said the scheme was an expensive failure and described it as "another wreck on the scrapheap of abandoned fads of criminal rehabilitation."
The use of private prisons has also been tried. New Zealand's first privately run prison, the Auckland Central Remand Prison opened under contract to Australian Correctional Management (ACM) in 2000. In 2004, the Labour Government, opposed to privatization, amended the law to prohibit the extension of private prison contracts. A year later, the 5-year contract with ACM was not renewed. In 2010, the National Government again introduced private prisons and international conglomerate Serco was awarded the contract to run the Auckland Central Remand Prison. Serco has also been given the contract to build and manage a new 960 bed prison at Wiri. The contract with Serco provides stiff financial penalties if its rehabilitation programmes fail to reduce reoffending by 10% more than the Corrections Department programmes.