Developing Models To Strengthen Cultural Perspectives
In Order To Reduce Recidivism
Bakker & Kristen Maynard, Department of Corrections, New Zealand
models for Maori involves understanding generally who is at risk and why and
then determining what is different for Maori.
It is most likely that many of the reasons why offenders commit crime,
and what is needed to reduce recidivism, are common to all ethnic groups.
However, there are also likely to be issues unique to specific sub-groups
of offenders such as Maori. This
paper will start by briefly discussing what is known and constitutes best
practice for offenders generally. Limitations
of the existing models’ application to New Zealand will then be described. The models we have developed and how we are specifically
strengthening cultural perspectives for Maori will then be provided.
Principles of Best Practice
number of principles have been found to be associated consistently with
effective intervention in a correctional setting.
Among the most important of these are the principles of risk, need, and
Andrews and Bonta, 1994; Gendreau, 1996). The
principle holds that intervention is most effective when targeted towards
those individuals who have the greatest risk of further criminal offending.
The needs principle asserts that there are certain aspects of an
individual’s functioning – substance-abuse, criminal attitudes and
associates, and the like - which should be targeted for intervention, to bring
about a reduction in down-stream offending (Bonta, 1996). A key feature of these aspects is their dynamic nature.
This means that they are potentially changeable.
The responsivity principle
states that offenders will be most affected by interventions that are matched to
their learning style, language, culture etc.
those most at risk increases the impact of treatment resources.
Because some appraisal of risk is central to almost every decision that
is made about an offender within the criminal justice system, this area has been
intensively investigated over the last seventy years.
Research on the prediction of future criminal behavior has increased
substantially in volume over the last twenty-five years and these investigations
have become progressively more sophisticated, reflecting developments in the
field of statistical methodology and also the ability of computers to store and
manipulate increasingly large arrays of data.
the various scales that have been developed to predict recidivism are still
imperfect, there is a single most significant conclusion that may be drawn from
this research. This is that
statistical or actuarial scales derived for the purposes of predicting future
criminal risk consistently out-perform the judgements of experts in almost every
investigation which has compared these two approaches to risk assessment.
This situation appears to prevail irrespective of the level of experience
and professional training of the persons making clinical judgements, and risk
scales consistently do better than the judgements of social workers, experienced
correctional officers, parole boards, psychologists and psychiatrists. (Gottfredson
and Gottfredson, 1988)
a significant publication, Gottfredson and Gottfredson (1994) reviewed their own
work of 30 years in the area of prediction and that of others, and struck a
rather pessimistic tone. They
concluded that the best available predictors are still quite poor. Indeed, the
most sophisticated statistical measures may produce predictions that are no
better than simple ones, and in some respects may be worse.
with these limitations, however, predictions made with the use of statistical
devices out-perform those made without such help. To this list of problems can
be added limitations to existing devices such as a lack of validation, use of
risk devices outside of the country they have been developed in, lack of
training of staff etc. There are no
risk devices that have been developed and validated specifically for New Zealand
Development of New Zealand Risk of Re-Conviction (RoC)
1993 we began developing risk models specific to New Zealand.
Using 130,000 criminal histories obtained from the Law Enforcement System
we used logistic regression to develop statistical models based on the criminal
history available. These models
predicted a number of events that we were interested in.
Particularly, re-conviction for any offence in the following five years,
the risk that such re-conviction would lead to imprisonment, the length of such
imprisonment and how serious the offence would be.
1 provides an indication of the accuracy of the re-conviction model.
The more closely the dots on the graph are to the dashed trend line the
more accurate the model. Clearly the correspondence of the model is very good.
While ethnicity is a variable that is used in this model it is not a
particularly important one; removing it reduces the accuracy of the model by
only 0.4 percent.
are limitations to this approach to evaluating risk. First the models still are not 100% accurate - they do better
than human judgement but there is still much room for improvement.
Second the models use “tombstone” predictors; the variables cannot be
readily changed. Such variables as number of previous convictions, length of
time spent in prison, are static or unchangeable - these models will not reflect
changes in risk due to treatment. Another
limitation of these models is that they do not tell us why an offender is at
risk but only who is at risk. Ideally,
we would want to know what puts a person at risk so that they can be given
appropriate treatment. If we want
to develop models that help reduce reoffending in general and Maori in
particular, we need additional information.
Criminogenic Needs and Risk
address some of the limitations of static risk prediction,
researchers have focused on dynamic or changeable features of offenders
linked to recidivism. Variables
such as unemployment, lack of education, lack of financial skills, relationship
problems etc. are all examples of dynamic variables that are linked to offending
and can be targeted for treatment. Such
instruments cater for both the risk principle and the criminogenic needs
principle cited earlier.
example of an instrument that uses a combination of static and dynamic factors
to estimate risk, and which identifies needs that can be treated, is the Level
of Service Inventory - Revised (LSI-R) developed by Andrews and Bonta of Canada.
Even though this instrument is widely used and has good correlation with
recidivism it too has limitations as a device for New Zealand.
A number of potential criminogenic needs
identified by the psychological research
literature are not measured by
The LSI-R was developed using a
Canadian offender population. Canadian
offenders may differ from their New Zealand counterparts in ways that reduce the
accuracy of the LSI-R when used with the local offender population.
There is some evidence that various measures of criminogenic needs have
decreased validity when applied to different offender populations (Loza and
The LSI-R does not measure
potential criminogenic needs uniquely related to Maori.
This is a major limitation given that such criminogenic needs may help
explain the high rates of offending and re-offending by Maori.
The development and validation of Maori culture related needs would
greatly enhance the Department’s strategic goal of reducing re-offending among
The LSI-R measures the severity
of criminogenic needs based predominantly upon
estimates of risk. Because
the estimate of risk is so affected by static factors this reduces the LSI-R’s
measurement sensitivity to genuine changes in the dynamic dimensions of its
The LSI-R, and other established
criminogenic need inventories, was developed based upon the assumption that any
assessed offender need is automatically criminogenic. This feature is likely to result in the LSI-R being overly
inclusive in its assessment of criminogenic needs. It may help explain the low to moderate statistical
relationship found between the criminogenic needs measured by inventories such
as the LSI-R and static risk prediction measures.
Developing a New Zealand Criminogenic Needs instrument
the above limitations, we considered it desirable to develop our own
Criminogenic Needs instrument which tackled the shortcomings of existing devices
and which complemented the risk models that had been developed.
The Criminogenic Needs Inventory (CNI) was developed using solely dynamic
needs that were psychological in nature (needs such as offence related emotions
and cognitions, violence propensity, risk-taking arousal etc).
Needs are assessed with the underlying premise that events (cognitions,
behaviors and emotions) that occur closest to the offence are most important to
understanding what caused the offending. Events
further back in time could be seen to predispose the person to committing
offences but are not as critical to the offending event itself.
initial piloting has been very promising suggesting that the CNI can be used
reliably and is well correlated with existing needs and risk measures.
It also appears to be related to reconviction risk in a way that differs
from the LSI-R and other current risk needs measures.
Critical to the development of the CNI was the measurement of needs that
might be unique to Maori and that might help explain why Maori constitute such a
disproportionately large sub-group of offenders.
Maori Culture-Related Needs: Background
constitute almost half of the New
Zealand offender population (Spier 1998; New Zealand Community Probation Service
1998). The negative effects of the
process of colonisation and the associated erosion of traditional cultural
values offers a broad basis for understanding the possible over-representation
of Maori in the criminal justice system.
recent study (Maynard 1998) identified a number of possible cultural factors
that were likely to contribute to the offending behavior of a Maori individual
and their ability to seek to modify this behavior. In order to increase the validity of risk/need prediction
amongst Maori, it was identified as imperative in that study, that these
cultural differences be adequately recognised and provided for.
in other sectors (such as Health), has also shown that there are specific
cultural factors unique to Maori which can influence the effectiveness of
treatment (Te Pumanawa Hauora, 1995). Further,
studies undertaken by Maori research groups (namely Te Hoe Nuku Roa at Massey
University) have demonstrated that there is a correlation between cultural
identity and socio-economic circumstances (Te Hoe Nuku Roa, 1996).
addition, a number of evaluations (on predominantly tikanga Maori based
initiatives and programmes) have been undertaken or contracted by the Department
of Corrections. Although these
evaluations are predominantly ‘process’ and ‘formative’ orientated
rather than focused on ‘outcomes’, they are consistent in highlighting that
a tikanga or kaupapa Maori approach to programme content and delivery can have
positive effects on Maori offenders. It
appears that all of these programmes focus (to some extent) on addressing
specific cultural needs such as:
Fostering a positive cultural identity,
· Creating an environment which enables individuals to feel both safe and good about being Maori; and
key aspects of programme intervention have provided early indications of success
in changing Maori offenders attitudes and behaviours, promoting pro-social
lifestyle changes, and increasing their receptiveness to other rehabilitative
programmes. These are also wholly
consistent with the identification of specific and unique Maori culture-related
Culture-Related Need (“MACRN”)
developed on the basis that there are unique needs specific to Maori offenders which are
characterised by culture and the place of that culture in New Zealand society
and which, if not addressed appropriately, are likely to contribute to an
increased risk of re-offending by that individual. It recognises that there are certain factors or needs
additional to generic offending needs, which require recognition and
incorporation into risk/need assessment tools in order to effectively identify
and address offending and re-offending by Maori.
Department of Corrections is currently developing a New Zealand based need
assessment tool - Criminogenic Needs Inventory (“CNI”).
A significant component of this tool will be focussing on assessing the
culture-related needs of Maori offenders and how these are linked to offending
behaviour. Four potential MaCRN’s
have been identified so far. These
have yet to be refined, and may be modified in the piloting phases of the CNI.
The measurement of each MACRN may also require ongoing refinement.
determining the extent and severity of each MACRN and recognising the
interrelated nature of these needs, is necessary to ensure that a more complete
picture is formed of the severity and complexity of the Maori individual’s
offending behaviour and how best to go about addressing this.
1: Cultural Identity
and enhancing a positive pro-social
cultural identity has been
identified as an important and relevant culture-related need by a number of
sectors and research groups. Research undertaken and reported in 1996 by Te Hoe
Nuku Roa at Massey University, demonstrated the particular significance of cultural identity as a
policy variable. Amongst its
conclusions the report found that Maori generally wished to retain a Maori
cultural identity and that there was a relationship between a secure identity
and other areas of social and economic well-being. Access to Maori institutions and knowledge was also
recognised as a key determinant for Maori well-being (Te Hoe Nuku Roa 1996).
based on an analysis of the information gathered, the report suggested that a
secure cultural identity has advantages far beyond cultural affirmation.
It may for example afford some protection against poor health, it is more
likely to be associated with educational participation and with positive
employment profiles. The corollary is that reduced access to the Maori world may
be associated with social and economic disadvantage (Durie 1996).
a Maori offender’s understanding and appreciation of Maori culture and
promoting a positive pro-social Maori cultural identity could give that offender
enough self-esteem and self-awareness to work toward changing their offending
it is imperative to assess whether the offender has a positive pro-social
perception about being Maori or whether their perception about being Maori is
negative and/or anti-social. Once
this is identified, the extent to which this perception impacts on their
functioning can then be examined. This
would assist in identifying whether cultural identity is a ‘need’ that if
addressed, is likely to contribute to a change in offending behaviour.
2: Cultural Tension
appears that acculturation factors
such as issues associated with colonisation, and situations where offenders
have felt that being Maori has created some barriers or difficulties for them in
their personal, social or occupational life are likely to impact significantly
on their overall well-being and could also increase the risk of Maori indulging
in criminal activity. If one regularly receives the message that one’s
culture, language, and identity are unacceptable, the impact on one’s sense of
security and self-esteem will be negative (Berry 1994; cited in Maynard 1998).
This in turn could lead to a greater risk of offending than those secure
in their culture and identity.
New Zealand society has developed primarily from Western European based norms,
despite the fact that Maori are recognised as the tangata whenua of this
country. Consequently, Maori
culture has been generally compromised and discouraged in the process of
colonisation and it is therefore likely that a number of stressors and tensions
associated with differences in cultural values and beliefs between Maori and
non-Maori has developed. Further,
the lack of positive coping skills for dealing with such tension, may promote
maladaptive responses which could include the development of related cognitions
and behavioural patterns that are likely to increase the individual’s risk of
re-offending. It is important to identify and effectively assess the nature and
extent of the cultural tension and the offender’s capability of recognising
and pro-socially addressing these where they impact on personal, social and/or
appreciation of the collective nature
of Maori culture will lead to a better understanding of the uniqueness and
importance of whanau to Maori and
it’s possible contribution (whether positive or negative) to offending
(1976) argued that the concept of whanau and its underlying values is
discernibly different to Pakeha perceptions of family and family values (Hirini
1997). For example, Durie (1984)
stated that the Pakeha ideal of being able to stand alone and be independent is
actually an unhealthy position from a Maori perspective where intra-dependence
is encouraged. The relationship of
an offender to their whanau is crucially important to assess.
An exclusive focus on factors directly related to individual offending
without examining concurrent public and community practices, will not of itself
reduce offending levels as it doesn’t address factors which reinforce that
person’s offending behaviour. Individual
obligations must be balanced against the prevailing value of collective
responsibility (Hamilton Community Corrections Office 1997).
about the strength or lack of whanau support is likely to indicate predisposing,
precipitating, perpetuating or protecting factors related to the development and
maintenance of offending behaviour and attitudes. Where the offender has a strong, healthy relationship with
their whanau, it is important to assess whether contact with their whanau has
been maintained. If not, it is then
necessary to assess whether lack of contact has negatively impacted upon the
functioning of the offender. Where anti-social behaviours are prevalent within
the offenders whanau, it is imperative to assess whether these behaviours have
predisposed, precipitated or maintained offending behaviour.
both situations attempts should be made to access members of the extended whanau
or significant others in order to strengthen, reconstruct and enhance positive
family relationships and support. Interventions
which access community support are important for instilling traditional pro-social whanau values. There
is also a need to accommodate family participation within interventions where
related to the concept of whanau is whakawhanaungatanga
which essentially generates a sense of family cohesion and co-operation
and is a specific form of support for Maori.
It also generates observable behavioural processes through which whanau
functioning is promoted and enhanced. It
will continue to be a concept of substantial value to Maori in terms of their
own social well-being and development (Hirini 1997).
assessing the relationship an offender has with their whanau,
the focus is on establishing the nature of the relationship and the
consequent impact the whanau may have had on, or the lack of support that has
contributed to, the offending behaviour of that individual.
Conversely, whakawhanaungatanga, focuses
on identifying a variety of relationships an offender has with a group of people
who they consider to be like a whanau to them and how these relationships may
contribute to offending behaviour. The group to which the individual associates with, does not
necessarily have to be blood connected.
on whakawhanaungatanga and the nature of social relationships an individual
forms with others, is important in that there appears to be an inclination for
Maori (as a distinctly collective culture) to avoid isolation by seeking to form
relationships with groups of people that they can relate to.
As such, there appears to be a strong need
for Maori offenders to seek membership to a larger group which will provide
that individual with a sense of belonging and collective responsibility.
For example, against the background of not aligning with mainstream
society, becoming a member of a gang could provide a sense of importance and
belonging that an individual may feel they lack in their lives. Whakawhanaungatanga is therefore perceived as a unique need
specific to Maori. It further
offers a broad explanation as to why many Maori offenders tend to form
associations with anti-social gangs and develop anti-social behaviour where
whanau support is lacking.
is essential therefore to identify the nature of the relationship between the
offender and their whanau, the impact the whanau may have on the offending
behaviour of the individual (whether positive or negative), and the kinds of
associates the offender tends to gravitate toward.
This would provide an indication of how these relationships are likely to
contribute toward offending behaviour and could also identify important areas of
need to address, such as strengthening whanau links, facilitating support for
the whanau, and ensuring that the necessary pro-social support is in place for
the ground-breaking nature of measuring such needs it was not possible to
include them in the initial pilot. However,
a reliability study including the MACRNs is planned to start in August.
There is evidence to suggest that there are a number of additional
culture-related factors, that could contribute to the offending behaviour of
Maori and their ability to seek to modify this behaviour.
This suggests that in addition to generic
needs, Maori offenders require different types and approaches to
interventions that also address a number of specific needs.
Maori culture-related need has emerged from this and will form a substantial
component of the new needs assessment tool currently being developed by the
Department of Corrections in New Zealand. These
additional unique Maori culture-related factors offer a broad explanation of a
predisposition towards and maintenance of socially unacceptable behaviour and
attitudes by Maori offenders. Effectively
recognising and addressing these areas of need will arguably assist with
and enhancing a positive pro-social cultural identity has been identified as an
important and relevant culture-related need by a number of research groups,
Department of Corrections’ evaluations, and other Government sectors.
This particular “need” does not only provide an effective target for
treatment but also provides an indication of the types of interventions that
could prove to be most effective for that individual.
It appears that acculturation factors such as issues
associated with colonisation, and strategies employed to deal with cultural
tensions, could impact significantly on the overall well-being of Maori
offenders and are likely to contribute to offending behaviour.
In addition, the collective nature of Maori culture has been highlighted
to illustrate the importance of whanau and whakawhanaungatanga to Maori in
general and the influence it is likely to have on offending behaviour.
Including whanau and/or other support persons into interventions is
considered necessary in order to enhance the effectiveness of interventions and
to promote and sustain behavioural change.
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