The Government has decided to shut down Te Hurihanga, a young offenders programme running in Hamilton. It’s an expensive facility to run (five million over three years) and Justice Minister Simon Power says the Ministry can’t afford to run it any longer.
Basically what he’s saying is that the Ministry can’t provide services it’s supposed to provide, even successful ones such as Te Hurihanga. The evaluation report which apparently informed Powers decision says none of the kids who completed the programme had “offences recorded since their graduation.” Nay sayers will argue that doesn’t mean they weren’t getting into trouble, but considering the high rate of offending some of these kids had before entering the programme (one kid stacked up 48 offences) I’d say that’s a pretty good success rate.
There’s also the issue of expertise. People with the skills to treat kids at this level are lacking in this country. Te Hurihanga is pretty valuable as a place to train people to that level, in fact the report values their skills so highly it recommends consolidating those expertise into the wider community.
It’s not perfect, there’s concerns in the report about the intake criteria - it’s argued the programme should be opened up to less serious offenders- and it’s taken time to find the right treatment model.
The report does recommend a further two years of monitoring to determine the medium to long term success rate. That’s led me to the not unreasonable conclusion that the report hasn’t really been a factor in the decision. The Ministry has to reach a target budget, Power looks at the cost of Te Hurihanga, sees the facility only take eight kids per cycle (more if you include those that continue on to the third phase of treatment where they’re returned back to the community) and does the math.
I’d like to know what his advice was regarding court, corrections, police and training costs if Te Hurihanga never existed.
I would say the decision is not unexpected from a government with a mandate to keep budgets within the line, but in August 2008 the local National MP David Bennett reckoned there would be more facilities like Te Hurihanga in the future. I figure that’s an endorsement, wouldn’t you?
He made that statement in the middle of the recession, that’s the one that apparently ended last year. So we can afford to run Te Hurihanga and make plans for more while the economy worsens, but not when the economy improves? Pull the other one.