Jill Bowman

Research Projects

28 Nov 17
with: Department of Corrections categories: Literature reviewResearchCrime & SafetyLaw & JusticePrisonsPrisoners

Editorial - Stephen Cunningham

Addressing the imbalance: Enhancing women's opportunities to build offence free lives through gender responsivity - Hannah McGlue

Collaborative, relational and responsive: Principles for the case management of women in prison - Marianne Bevan

Methamphetamine use disorders among New Zealand prisoners - Jill Bowman

Strengthening continuity of care: Corrections' Alcohol and Other Drug Aftercare Worker Pilot - Caitlin Chester

Suicide in New Zealand prisons - 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2016 - Robert Jones

Transforming intervention and support for at-risk prisoners - Deborah Alleyne

The Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale: Validation for use as a screen for suicide risk in New Zealand prisons and probation settings - Dr Nick Wilson

An introduction to countering violent extremism - Jayde Walker

The last defence against gang crime: Exploring community approaches to gang member reintegration - part I - Armon Tamatea

Supported accommodation services for released offenders in New Zealand - a review - Diane Hallot and Madeline Patterson

From Māori Therapeutic Programmes to Mauri Tū Pae - Tara Hape

A review of the Saili Matagi Programme for make Pasifika prisoners - Lucy King and Sosefo Bourke

Measuring practice quality: A new approach in a Corrections setting - Giles Sulllivan

Safety leadership - creating a positive safety culture at Corrections - Louise Giles and Colin du Plessis

An integrated approach: Holistic assessment of vocational trainees - Graeme Couper

Do your stretch: Yoga as a rehabilitative intervention - Dr John Sinclair

Good to Grow: How's it working - Sebastian Collin Smyth and Darius Fagan

Focus groups in prison - Sophia Walter

Role differences between psychologists who work in Corrections and those who work in Forensic Health Services - Glen Kilgour and Nicola Tiller

Book review: Sport in Prison: Exploring the role of physical activity in corrections settings -Rosie Meek reviewed by Alan Walmsley

04 Aug 17
with: Department of Corrections categories: Literature reviewResearchConflict & Conflict ResolutionCrime & SafetyLaw & JusticePrisons
18 Aug 16
with: Department of Corrections categories: ResearchCrime & SafetyLaw & JusticeDrugs & AlcoholMental Health

The New Zealand Department of Corrections is in an enviable position internationally to deliver a world-leading correctional system. We have a clear understanding of our offender population and a strong connection to other agencies. We have a well-established evidence base that we use to shape our policies and to understand what works.

We are small enough to innovate, and work within a public service that fosters collaboration and inquiry.

In this edition we have taken a broad focus on innovation in Corrections. We explore emerging research, outline innovative programmes to reduce re-offending, and discuss the application of new theoretical approaches to understanding human behavior.

Hot off the press, Devon Polaschek’s article Do relationships matter? Examining the quality of probation officers’ interactions with parolees in preventing recidivism provides a fascinating exploration of the role of human relationships in creating change. Devon discusses how the supervision of offenders in the community has changed over generations and jurisdictions, and can be anything from intensive surveillance designed to detect any act of criminality or non-compliance, to social work-based case management. Depending on the main goals of supervision, the importance of the relationship between the staff member and the offender has also varied. However, the evidence suggests that relationship quality is related to recidivism.

Jill Bowman sets out the interesting findings from the recent Comorbid substance use disorders and mental health disorders among New Zealand prisoners study. This 2016 research provides updated information on the state of New Zealand prisoners’ mental health and drug and alcohol problems. Results show that 91% of prisoners had been diagnosed with either a substance use disorder or a mental health disorder over their lifetime. Over the last 12 months, almost two-thirds of prisoners had been diagnosed with either of these disorders – three times higher than the general population.

We explore some initiatives that have been innovative both in New Zealand and international jurisdictions. Rob Jones presents a case study on the Hutt Valley justice sector innovation project that highlights this excellent joined-up Justice Sector initiative. Ben Hehir looks to the United States for evidence of effectiveness on Project HOPE, which offers “swift, certain and fair” sanctions. Introduced in 2004, the approach uses frequent drug testing and short terms of imprisonment in response to sentence breaches. This approach has spread throughout the United States and is being examined by policy makers worldwide.

In terms of New Zealand’s offender treatment programmes, we are at the forefront of evidence-based practice. In the article Ka Üpane, Hannah Cleland and Juanita Ryan describe how the over-arching goal for the pilot was to provide meaningful and empirically supported treatment to high-risk, violent, short-serving offenders. One basic premise is that the offenders in the programme have not developed, or mastered, essential pro-social skills and must be assisted to develop these skills.
In his article, Employment as a factor in desistance from crime, Stephen Cunningham sets out his game-changing approach to working with employers to help offenders into meaningful, productive and non-offending lives.

Finally, a couple of articles examine some fascinating new theoretical approaches to problem-solving provided by behavioral economists and the ‘nudge’ concepts.

12 Feb 16
with: NZ Police categories: EvaluationResearchConflict & Conflict ResolutionCrime & SafetyPrisonsVictimsPrisonersWomenYouth


  • Twenty years of Corrections - The evolution of offender rehabilitation - Dr Peter Johnston
  • The High Risk Personality Programme - Revised: An evaluation report - Dr Nick Wilson, Glen Kilgour
  • Women's experiences of rehabilitation and re-offending summary of findings - Marianne Bevan
  • Te Kupenga - An approach to working with offending families - Jill Bowman
  • Public protection orders - Managing the most dangerous offenders under a civil regime - Michael Herder
  • Co-morbidity research - Part one - Jill Bowman
  • What does it mean when Corrections says we will place the victim at the centre of our concerns in the family violence context? - Julie Sach, Rachel Smith
  • Making a difference for young people in prison - Kathy Foster
  • Rolleston Prison - Reflections on a multi-disciplinary team in action - Mike Howson, Alexandra Green, Gill Roper, Megan Stenswick
  • Reduced re-offending by 25% by 2017 - David Lewis, Kerry Consedine, Janice Hickey
  • Frontline Futures - Uarnie More
  • Characteristics of a learning culture - Darren Johnson
  • Psychopathy and its implication for criminal justice - Dr Nick Wilson
  • Book review: Self-Insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the path to knowing thy self - David Dunning (2005), reviewed by Dr Crista McDaniel
  • Book review: The Girls in the Gang - Glennis Dennehy and Greg Newbold, Reviewed by Shelley Kennedy
  • Information for contributors

Evidence based practice: What does it mean for us?

The Department’s frameworks for the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders are based on the evidence of ‘what works’. This issue of Practice contains a number of themes and principles that are well-recognised as being successful in the reduction of re-offending.

To acknowledge the Department’s 20th anniversary, Peter Johnston gives us some insight into how the Department’s approach to offender rehabilitation has evolved over the years. The article highlights many changes that have come into effect as a result of using evidence based research from New Zealand and around the world.

Principles such as targeting interventions towards offenders’ needs and aligning the intensity of these interventions with assessed risk are paramount in creating change. These principles of Risk and Need must, of course, be coupled with Responsivity. The articles by Kathy Foster, Nick Wilson, and Julie Sach and Rachel Smith illuminate the importance of these principles.

Previous editions of Practice have focused on collaboration and motivational interviewing, and we re-visit these themes in this issue. The article by Mike Howson, Alexandra Green, Gill Roper and Megan Stenswick explores how a multi-disciplinary team is working in action and the benefits this has for offenders. Jill Bowman presents a multi-disciplinary team in a different context, showing similar positive outcomes.

Motivational interviewing is internationally accepted as effective to encourage and maintain change. As highlighted by Nick Wilson and Glen Kilgour’s article, Marianne Bevan’s article, and the article by David Lewis, Kerry Consedine and Janice Hickey, building motivation in offenders is important if they are to change and sustain that change.

Woven throughout many of the articles is the evidence based principle of risk assessment, which is vital in mitigating risk. However, at times, mitigation of risk requires more than rehabilitation interventions; sometimes the public need extra protection. This issue is explored in the article by Michael Herder, who introduces us to public protection orders.

We also touch on how, as an organisation, we need to use people’s experience and knowledge to continue making a difference. Darren Johnson discusses learning cultures, and Uarnie More looks at our new way of recruiting the right people for the job.

I hope this issue of the journal enriches your practice, and encourages you to always act on the evidence.


Sarah Symonds

Director Case Management
NZ Department of Corrections

14 Jul 15
with: Department of Corrections categories: EvaluationLiterature reviewResearchConflict & Conflict ResolutionCrime & SafetyLaw & JusticePrisonsHealth & Safety at WorkPrisoners


  • Editorial- Darius Fagan
  • Desistance from crime: A review of the literature - Marianne Bevan
  • Discovering desistance: Reconfiguring criminal justice? - Fergus McNeill, Stephen Farrall, Claire Lightowler and Shadd Maruna
  • Lessons from research into youth desistance - Jill Bowman
  • The role of release planning in the reintegration experiences of high-risk offenders - Sophie R. Dickson & Devon L. L. Polaschek
  • Desistance in high-risk prisoners: Pre-release self-reported desistance commitment and perceptions of change predict 12-month survival - Devon L. L. Polaschek & Julia A. Yesberg
  • Practice note: Building recovery, reducing crime - Kathryn Leafe
  • The problem with ‘the problem with gangs’: Reflections on practice and offender desistance - Armon Tamatea
  • Physical Readiness Assessment and staff resilience - Dr Alan Walmsley
  • Whakamanahia Wahine Programme for low-risk women offenders - Dr Annie Weir
  • Book review: The Resilience Factor - Karen Reivich, PhD & Andrew Shatte, PhD
  • Book review: Desistance from Sex Offending: Alternatives to Throwing Away the Keys - Laws, R. & Ward, T. (2010). Reviewed by Benita Stiles-Smith, PhD
  • Information for contributors.


The desistance issue

Often articles and information about desistance leave me with more questions than answers.  Like many practitioners, I am desperate to find the dummies guide ‘how to stop offenders re-offending’, however it is never likely to be that simple.

Desistance is a term widely used in the fields of criminology and criminal psychology to describe the process of an offender successfully stopping or reducing offending over a period of time. While the term is widely used in the research, it is only just beginning to emerge in our thinking in frontline practice in Aotearoa. However, those of us who work with offenders must develop systems and practices that give offenders the best chance of desisting from crime. In this issue of Practice we get the opportunity to explore the topic of desistance further and in context for New Zealand practitioners.

In this issue we have gathered a range of articles from New Zealand and the wider world that I hope will challenge practitioners to think about their practice differently. Throughout all of the articles there is a common thread that the ‘offender / client / service user’ perspective is very important to ensuring a system promotes change and a move toward desistance.  Many articles encourage a collaborative approach; this makes a lot of sense given every individual is unique and every case different, making it imperative for us to customise our practice based on the person and circumstances in front of us.

If you are new to the idea of desistance, a good place to start in this issue is the literature review by Marianne Bevan. This summarises concepts from a comprehensive range of the most prominent authors and articles on desistance.

There are two articles related to the Department’s on-going parole research project led by Devon Polascheck from Victoria University.  The article by Dickson and Polaschek examines the importance of offenders’ individual release plans. Polaschek and Yesberg then examine the relationship between an individual’s commitment to change and the likelihood of desistance from crime over a 12 month period.

A comprehensive research report by Jill Bowman into youth desistance follows the Department commissioning Dr Jarrod Gilbert to locate and interview 50 high risk young offenders who ‘desisted’ from crime. The report contains some salient information for practitioners about what works and what does not and in particular emphasises the importance of reintegrative assistance, and eliciting and enhancing pro-desistance self talk.

We are also privileged to have an international article in this issue contributed by Fergus McNeill, Stephen Farrall, Claire Lightowler and Shadd Maruna who are amongst the world’s leading researchers on the topic of desistance. The article presents ten propositions that were developed from a series of workshops throughout the UK that focused on the development of practice for desistance.  Some of these propositions challenge common current practice ideals and encourage us to think differently about how our systems operate.

One of the book reviews in this issue looks at The Resilience Factor which is considered a bit of a bible for anyone who wants to develop their knowledge of resilience to work with offenders or build personal resilience.

So, I hope this issue of Practice will leave you with a lot of questions about your practice, as it’s only by questioning what we do that we improve. There probably is no simple ‘answer’ to how to stop re-offending, but this issue of Practice will give you a lot of clues and guidance to hone your practice.

Darius Fagan
Chief Probation Officer, Department of Corrections

14 Jul 15
with: Department of Corrections categories: EvaluationLiterature reviewResearchConflict & Conflict ResolutionCrime & SafetyFamily ViolenceLaw & JusticePrisonsVictimsEducation & TrainingLiteracy & NumeracyPrisonersWomenQuality of Life

Volume 2 Issue 1 of Practice: The New Zealand Corrections Journal includes:

  • Editorial - Liz Morgan
  • How Corrections measures progress towards its 25 percent reducing re-offending target - Peter W. Johnston
  • Review of PhD research by Laura Hanby on the ability of the Dynamic Risk Assessment for Offender Re-entry (DRAOR) to identify risk and desistance for NZ parolees (2010-2012) - Nick J Wilson
  • What can the DRAOR tell us about high-risk offenders? A preliminary examination - Julia A. Yesberg & Devon L. L. Polaschek
  • Women on parole: Do they need their own DRAOR? - Julia A. Yesberg, Jessica M. Scanlan & Devon L. L. Polaschek
  • Prevention first and victims at the centre – NZ Police’s journey to reduce victimisation - Fiona Prestidge
  • Prison-based employment interventions: effects on recidivism - Sarah Beggs Christofferson
  • Developing a world class family violence programme for New Zealand - Mark Hutton & Danielle Kallil
  • Preparing Core members for Circles of Support and Accountability in New Zealand - Jim van Rensburg
  • Assessing the literacy and numeracy of prisoners - Jill Bowman
  • Translating the right relationship into right practice: Right Track in NZ prisons - Carolyn O’Fallon
  • Book review: Prison violence – Causes, Consequences and Solutions - Kristine Levan (2012) & Reviewed by Neil Beales


Welcome to Practice: The Corrections Journal.

To achieve our goal of reducing re-offending by 25 percent by 2017, services and approaches need to be appropriately tailored and targeted to support an offender to change. This edition of Practice outlines a number of new approaches, frameworks and interventions that have been developed, enhanced or tailored for specific groups, to support offenders to lead law-abiding lives.

Having a reliable measure of re-offending is essential to allow us to measure our success against the 25 percent reduction in re-offending target. This measure, in and of itself however, can never tell the full story. When combined with other measures, such as the seriousness of an offender’s re-offending and the effectiveness of our interventions, a richer story begins to unfold. Peter Johnston’s article explains the ins and outs of these measures and how they should be interpreted.

Have we got the right way of assessing risk to allow us to make the best decisions? The short answer to this question is “yes” and three of the articles contained within this edition give evidence to this effect. Julia Yesberg and Devon Polashek’s article shows that Dynamic Risk Assessment for Offender Re-entry (DRAOR) is a robust predictor of recidivism for both low and high risk offenders, Julia Yesberg, Jessica Scanlan and Devon Polaschek explore the question of whether women on parole need their own DRAOR, and Nick Wilson outlines the extensive DRAOR research carried out by Laura Hanby.

Risk assessment is only part of the equation though. We also need to understand an offender’s learning abilities so our messages are correctly understood and we can tailor our approaches accordingly. Jill Bowman’s research shows that over 71 percent of prisoners are below the literacy level at which a person is able to cope with the demands of everyday life in modern society. This supports the extensive expansion of educational interventions that has taken place over the last eighteen months.

Every seven minutes an incident of family violence is reported. Mark Hutton and Danielle Kallil’s article outlines a new family violence programme for male offenders in the community that has been developed using international best practice. Jim van Rensburg’s article also discusses best practice and the recent New Zealand pilot of Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA).

Corrections isn’t the only organisation undertaking fundamental changes to achieve better results. Police are changing their approach via the Victims Focus Framework. Six percent of adults experience 54 percent of all crime and many of these victims are offenders themselves. Inspector Fiona Prestidge provides more detail on this relatively new framework.

As at the end of February, we have achieved a 12.6 percent reduction in re-offending. This equates to 3,219 fewer offenders and over 9,200 fewer victims of crime per year. This is a huge achievement and our communities are  safer as a result. To achieve our goal of reducing re-offending by 25 percent by 2017 we will need to continue to be innovative and flexible in the solutions we deliver and build on our successes to date.

Liz Morgan
Director, Reducing Re-offending Programme
Department of Corrections