From the moment prisoners enter jail, they begin to be
prepared for release.
Otago Corrections Facility senior case manager Stephanie
Hoult (right) takes a prisoner through his rehabilitation
and reintegration programme at the Milburn jail. Photo
Rosie Manins talks to Otago Corrections Facility senior case
manager Stephanie Hoult about finding a way forward for those
seeking a second chance.
''Tom'' is a functioning member of society and a good news
story for Corrections.
After serving a 10-year sentence at the Otago Corrections
Facility (OCF) in Milburn, he was recently released subject
to conditions by the New Zealand Parole Board and immediately
started fulltime employment.
The transition from recidivist offender to taxpayer had a lot
to do with his case manager in prison, Ms Hoult said.
''Before his release, his case manager was working really
closely with him to make sure that he had as much in place as
possible before he got out.''
While still in jail, he was allowed on the release-to-work
programme, which meant he could leave the prison for hours at
a time to work nearby and could save a small amount of money.
He found supportive accommodation through a community
provider, had everything organised with Work and Income and
arranged community support through a prisoner aid
''That was all co-ordinated by his case manager. He was able
to gain employment before he got out and even went to the job
interview, so he had fulltime employment straight away,'' Ms
''After 10 years he had everything in place, which is the
case manager's job - to co-ordinate all of that around him.''
Another success story involved an OCF prisoner on a
three-month sentence, who had significant mental and physical
''He had major needs, nowhere to live when he got out and no
employment. His case manager worked really closely with
mental health providers, accommodation providers and other
community groups to make sure when he walked out the gates
there were no cracks he was going to fall through.''
Ms Hoult was one of three senior case managers at the OCF,
where there were seven other case managers and a principal
The wider Otago/Southland team also included a principal
manager, senior case manager and three case managers at
Each had roughly 40-50 prisoners to manage at any one time,
depending on the prison muster.
Ms Hoult said case managers focused on rehabilitation of
prisoners and their reintegration into the community.
''The prisoner is allocated a case manager right from the
word go, even remand prisoners once they've been there two
weeks, and they'll have a case manager right through until
the time of release.''
Each new prisoner was assessed and their needs identified,
which enabled case managers to assign them to suitable
''We look at a range of things including what their potential
employment might be and any education activities they may be
eligible for, then draw up an individualised offender plan,''
Ms Hoult said.
She became a case manager almost three years ago, after
spending seven years as a behaviour support specialist for
people with intellectual disabilities and, before that,
Many programmes at the OCF focused on drug and alcohol
rehabilitation and others addressed behaviours and thought
patterns, she said.
Education programmes included literacy, computing skills and
other courses through which prisoners could gain NCEA
credits, as well as work-related training inside the prison
which enabled prisoners to achieve credits for tertiary
Employment opportunities on site included working on the
prison's dairy farm, maintaining the prison grounds, staffing
the kitchen and laundry, and working in the engineering
Minimum security prisoners could become eligible for the
release-to-work programme, which saw them released into the
community during the day to work at nearby premises under
''The major job of the case manager is to plan a pathway for
the prisoners while they're here [in jail], a plan involving
rehabilitation, intervention, training and employment
opportunities. It's about putting as many things in place as
possible for them to have a better chance of working and not
reoffending when they are released.''
Ms Hoult said case managers worked closely with probation
officers and community organisations close to a prisoner's
release date, so the transition from jail to the community
was as seamless as possible.
Case managers often had to motivate prisoners to make the
most of opportunities, but ultimately most prisoners were
pleased with what they achieved come the time of release, she
Family members were included in offender plans, as were the
prison's uniformed staff and those from partner agencies.
Ms Hoult said the ''offender-centric'' model was being
further developed and more people were being involved in
prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration, with the aim of
reducing reoffending as much as possible.
She said no-one should leave jail without the ability to get
''They are as prepared as they can be, and that's very much
the role of the case manager, to make sure everything's in
place. It can be very satisfying to see people achieve
things, and sometimes it might be the first achievement
they've ever really had.''