Long wait for detoxification, psychological help in prison: “It’s pretty serious”

A man who has been in prison for a decade has been told he will have to wait another two years before he can receive any form of psychological treatment, according to his lawyer.

Photo: 123rf

Lawyer Judith Fyfe said the Corrections Department knew it was keeping prisoners inside longer, simply because it lacked resources for treatment and rehabilitation programs.

Parole Board Chairman Sir Ron Young wrote Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis in January criticizing the ministry and explaining the need for significant improvement.

But Davis denied there was a problem and said it was best for prisoners to receive treatment right before they were released.

Kathy has two sons who were both sent to prison for the same crime – they received identical sentences but were sent to different prisons, with very different results.

One of them, with the help of a case manager, was able to participate in programs and was subsequently paroled within two years.

For her other son, it was not that easy. He served three more months, simply because he couldn’t get the education he needed to qualify for parole, she said.

Two of his courses promised to young people were canceled because there were not enough inmates to complete them.

Another reason given for delaying classes was that corrections did not want him to mix with the “regular prison population,” Kathy said.

She said it didn’t make sense.

“He was in a regular unit with mostly Mongrel Mob.

“Luckily he really got along with them, but he could easily have gone down that road and thought ‘oh yeah, I might as well be a bastard’, especially at this age.”

He is now 21 and was released on Monday after finally completing the program.

Judith Fyfe was his lawyer – she is also the Acting Chair of the Parole Law Committee, Wellington Branch of the Law Society.

Delays in accessing rehabilitation programs or counseling were not new and were getting worse, she said.

No legend

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis denies there is a problem.
Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Fyfe had dozens of clients in his books facing the same issue and said a man was not eligible for any programs after 10 years in prison.

“The only alternative if you don’t meet the criteria for offender programs is individual work with a psychologist.

“His sentence is 13 years. He’s been waiting all this time, he still hasn’t had treatment and I was informed last week that he would be unlikely to start treatment until the year before. the end of his sentence in 2024.

“We have a waiting list of up to two years for most of our clients to get individual treatment. It’s pretty dire.

“I’m now trying to get it in private. I saw seven psychologists and all were turned down except one. They are just too busy. “

Minister Kelvin Davis said inmates often do not receive help because they are not yet ready.

But Fyfe said that was wrong and that Corrections knew they were keeping people in jail longer just because they didn’t have the resources. This delay only made the prisoners more difficult to deal with, she said.

“There is certainly a threshold where a lot more work is required to rehabilitate someone, if they have been sitting there year after year.”

Patricia Walsh is a social worker who has already served her sentence herself.

She said that being in jail longer doesn’t make you a better person, it makes you angrier and more devastated.

“Having someone sit in a cell at 80% of their prison sentence and not engage in anything positive is detrimental to anyone’s well-being. good for your wairua. “

The more help someone receives, the better their chances of survival, Walsh said.

“The longer you stay there, the more physiological and psychological impact it has on you, and you bring that to the community.

“If you’re going to spend time in jail, make the most of it, let’s give that person the optimal chance to have a different life.”

Inmates can apply for parole after one-third of their sentence, but most will serve more than three-quarters of their sentence.

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