For many years, lawyers, police and the courts have called for support for repeat offenders. A local NGO has stepped up to help fill that role.
The Second Chance Support Group Inc. is a new non-government organisation (NGO), established to provide support services to repeat offenders.
Its chief executive officer (CEO) Terry Rangi
has seen first-hand what the immediate needs are for released perpetrators.
“Their needs are fairly basic and they need
some help. Upon their release from prison, we want to assist them towards
rehabilitation to reduce the rate of reoffending and incarceration.” said Rangi.
A former inmate said: “Having a place to sleep
is what we worry about first, where do we stay. And we want to work, we need a
job to eat… this new group I say is a good idea.”
Another young man who was released recently
said: “This is good, I’m happy now, I have work.”
Objectives of the Second Chance are: To reduce
the rate of reoffending and incarceration, improve literacy levels, provide
access to education, skills training and trade courses, provide opportunities
for jobs and self-employment and to promote inmate/family relationships.
Some steps noted to reduce reoffending include
a drug and alcohol rehabilitation programme, counselling sessions, develop and
strengthen family connections and personal life skills and to offer education
and training programmes.
Cook Islands’ incarceration rate has increased
from 23 in 2000 to 47 in 2019. There were 40 inmates in 2010.
The Second Chance Support Group is an
incorporated society and charity governed by a board: President – Papa Iona
Taiki, CEO – Terry Rangi, Member legal – Mark Short, Member medical – Dr
Evangeline Wong, Member inmate - representative, Secretary – Moari Allsworth,
Treasurer – Nga Takaiti.