Policy, planning, outputs and outcomes : a Community Corrections Division study : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Work at Massey University
In the restructured New Zealand State sector departmental heads now contract with their ministers to provide outputs, and the performance of chief executives and their departments is assessed on the outputs rather than on the outcomes for society which the outputs contribute to. Planning to achieve the outputs is largely carried out in State sector departments using the technique known as strategic planning. This thesis examines the topic of policy, planning, outputs and outcomes by reference to a key Community Corrections Division objective which seeks (under conditions of fiscal restraint) a reduction in the number of resource intensive remand reports provided to courts and a commensurate increase in the number of briefer same-day reports. The research method involved: (a) interviews with Departmental managers to gain their views on the issues which are currently shaping Community Corrections Division management planning; (b) a comparative quantitative study of compliance and conviction seriousness among 230 offenders who were sentenced, following either a remand or a same-day report, to periodic detention, community service or supervision in the Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt District Courts between May and October 1992; and (c) interviews with sub-groups of offenders and the people who supervised their sentences to provide a qualitative assessment of process and sentence outcomes. Five notable findings emerged from this study. First, the managers accept the prominence of fiscal restraint among the environmental matters affecting strategic planning, but preferred to see this as an exercise in providing value for money. Second, the offender and supervisor interviews show that same-day reports were not an inferior method of providing information to courts where the punitive sentence of periodic detention was clearly indicated, but that same-day reports were less suitable than remand reports where the sentences of community service and supervision were recommended and ordered. With community service the offender's knowledge of the sentence and therefore their ability to give informed consent to the sentence was of concern, while the quality of the caseplans and the limited number of positive qualitative changes which followed were noteworthy with the same-day supervision sentences. Third, just under half (46.1 percent) of all of the offenders in the study were convicted of at least one imprisonable offence during the twelve month follow-up period, with the percentages being greater for the same-day members of each sentence type group. The percentages ranged from a high of 63.6 percent reconvictions for the periodic detention same-day group to a low of 20.1 percent for the community service remand group. Fourth, among the community service groups, more of those who had been sentenced following a same-day report went on to commit offences of the same or more seriousness during the follow-up period than was the case with the remand report group. This finding is the more surprising because the characteristics of these recidivist same-day offenders might be expected to put them in a lower risk of reoffending category than their counterparts in the remand group. Fifth, compliance with community-based orders appears to have no predictive value as far as subsequent reconvictions are concerned. This finding must be of concern to the Government as purchaser of services, because certain levels of compliance are among the outputs that they are currently purchasing from the Community Corrections Division. That particular output, it appears, may be ineffective in producing the outcomes which are held to be the blueprint for a better society.