July 07, 2016
Gangs a reality for prison outreach
An expert on gangs says Corrections needs to work with gang members if it is to meet its targets for reducing reoffending.
Corrections has barred Nga Rauru kaumatua Ngapari Nui from voluntary work at Whanganui Prison because he belongs to Black Power, and Minister Judith Collins has ordered a review to ensure there are no other gang members working behind bars.
Sociologist Dr Jarrod Gilbert says Mr Nui needs to be judged by what he has achieved through his work in the prison and the community rather than his gang associations.
Bashing gangs hasn't worked because most people in gangs have been bashed around all their lives, so institutions may have to learn when to work with them rather than against them.
"It may well be a guy with a patch on his back but he is not engaging in violence in the home, if he is in training or employment and has a more pro-social outlook, he may still have a patch on his back but we've got a much better citizen. That may not be as attractive to some as getting him out of the gang altogether, but getting him out of the gang altogether may not be a realistic option. We may have to work with what we have got and make the best of it," Dr Gilbert says,
He says the gangs have aged and many of the older members have a different approach to life, but they understand the reality of the young men in prison and can present alternatives in a way professionals from outside gang culture can't.
DR JARROD GILBERT INTERVIEW
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