The Department of Corrections is much larger than this, however: a total of 38,997 people are under their care in New Zealand (as of December 2013), the majority of whom are serving community sentences.
During 2013, 6967 men and 687 women started a prison sentence. Three quarters of these prisoners were given a sentence of two years or less. The proportion of prisoners entering prison with a longer sentence has steadily increased in the last three decades, from less than ten percent to a full quarter of prisoners. Reflecting this, those serving short-term sentences are now a much smaller proportion of the population than they once were, decreasing from 70 percent of all sentenced prisoners in 1983, to 17 percent in 2013.
Maori are significantly over-represented in New Zealand prisons. In 2012 Māori made up 51 percent (4,391) of the total prison population, while European prisoners made up only 33 percent (2,835), and Pacific peoples made up 12 percent (1,006). This is despite Maori making up only 15 percent of the total national population. This over-representation has drawn criticism from the UN, who have recently expressed concern that these figures may represent an institutional bias against Maori.
Women make up a very small proportion of prisoners. Through the 1980s and into the mid 1990s, women generally made up between 3-4% of all prisoners. Since the late 1990s, the figure has risen slightly and hovers around 5-6%.
The average annual cost for a prisoner is $90,936 (as of 2011 – this may have increased but such data is rarely published), or $249 per day. Monitored home detention costs approximately $21,000 per year, or $58 a day. For those serving other community based sentences, such as community service or community programmes, these costs are much lower.
Prison meals are budgeted at only $5.30 per prisoner per day, but are “developed in consultation with a qualified dietitian to ensure they fit both legislation and the Ministry of Health’s food and nutrition guidelines.”
One quarter of sentenced prisoners and half of remanded prisoners share their cell with another inmate.
New Zealand has a total prison capacity of 10,160, meaning that our prisons are at approximately 84% capacity.
More than a quarter of sentenced and remand prisoners have gang affiliations, primarily with the Mongrel Mob and Black Power, although the Killer Beez have become more prominent in recent years. Among those on community sentences, the population with gang affiliations is much lower at only nine percent.
The average sentenced New Zealand prisoner has a RoC*RoI score of 0.5, meaning that Corrections believes there is roughly a 50% chance that they will reoffend after leaving prison.
52% of prisoners have lifetime psychotic, mood, or anxiety disorders.
64% of prisoners have experienced at least one head injury where they have became unconscious or blacked out.
Around 89% of all prisoners have a lifetime prevalence of substance abuse.
Just 16.5% of prisoners have a qualification of School Certificate (NCEA Level 1) or higher. By comparison, in 2006, 78% of the national population 15 and above had a qualification of School Certificate (NCEA level 1) or higher.
The majority of youth offenders (under 20) have a learning disability of some kind, with one study showing a rate as high as 91 percent. This study also indicated that levels of reading comprehension can be used to predict the likelihood of recidivism.
Unless otherwise noted, these data are drawn from the Department of Corrections Offender Population Report 2014 and the National Health Committee's 2010 Health in Justice report. If you know of any more up-to-date figures than the ones shown here, let us know in the comments.