Stable Housing and Reintegration in Aotearoa New Zealand

Alice Mills

University of Auckland
Senior Lecturer in Criminology

Alice Mills is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her research interests include mental health in prisons, specialist problem solving courts, the role of NGOs in criminal justice, and prisoner reintegration. She is currently leading a 3-year study to examine the role of stable housing in reducing re-offending by people leaving prison, funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Existing international research suggests that stable housing can reduce the risk of re-offending amongst people leaving prison. However, little is known about how and why housing might have this effect. Stable accommodation may assist people to obtain employment and maintain/create family relationships, and may not simply be a roof over someone’s head but rather a ‘home’ and potentially ‘a secure base around which (pro-social) identities are constructed’ (Dupuis, and Thorns 1998). Research on the relationship between stable housing, reintegration and recidivism is also lacking in Aotearoa New Zealand where over 50 percent of prisoners are from the indigenous Māori population and the cultural context of reintegration differs substantially from other jurisdictions. This paper will draw upon the early findings of a New Zealand study to examine the relationship between stable housing and recidivism. It will examine the pre-prison housing situation of a cohort of prisoners and explore their expectations for housing post-release. In doing so, it will concentrate particularly on the experiences of women and Māori and the barriers they face in obtaining accommodation on release from prison.