The New Zealand Howard League For Penal Reform




Our Programme

Our programme and objectives are aimed at reducing the prison population, reducingrecidivism rates and helping reintegration into communities by:

Researching and advocating programmes in the penal system which follow international best practice and reduce the prison population and recidivism.

Many countries have reduced or capped prisoner numbers without compromising community safety. We need to learn from these experiences.

Promoting and organising employment opportunities for released prisoners by approaching potential employers for job opportunities.

Countries, like Germany, where the employment of released prisoners by major companies is regarded as a civic duty show much lower rates of reoffending and recidivism.

Organising and executing basic literacy programmes in jails by approaching retired primary teachers.

Many of our inmates are functionally illiterate, a situation which makes getting a job on release all the more difficult.

Supporting and promoting the development and successful operation of drug and alcohol courts.

These Courts which offer suspended sentences in return for closely monitored abstinence from drugs and alcohol and rehabilitation are a huge success in other countries, notably the USA. Up to seventy percent of offenders can be kept out of jail and go back to normal crime-free lives.

These Courts which offer suspended sentences in return for closely monitored abstinence from drugs and alcohol and rehabilitation are a huge success in other countries, notably the USA. Up to seventy percent of offenders can be kept out of jail and go back to normal crime-free lives.

If you want to read about the success of drug courts in America, Click here.

Mounting programmes aimed at getting driving offenders their licenses and therefore diverting them from a prison sentence.

The New Zealand Howard League

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the western world today. And it’s growing every day. But with your help we can make a positive difference.

With a growing prison population penal reform has become increasingly important and urgent for New Zealand.

In New York State prison populations in the last few years have dropped by 20% as has the crime rate in that state. If we could manage the same result in New Zealand that would put us on par with Australia.

The savings to the taxpayer would be a quarter of a billion dollars every year and we would not need to build any new prisons.

The New Zealand Howard League for Penal Reform is a Registered Charity with the Charities Commission in New Zealand.

Tony Givvs CNZM - President

The Howard League’s work is vital to ensure that the penal system isn’t merely an expensive human scrap-heap New Zealanders should be ashamed of.

If we want safer communities and better outcomes from the penal system, we all have a part to play in making that happen. As a society we can’t simply wash our hands of the problem once the key is turned on a prisoner.

Inevitably the thousands in our prison will come back to our communities and rehabilitation must be the focus to make sure that they don’t re-offend.

I commend membership of the Howard Leagure to you as a positive step in the direction of a safe society and reduced taxpayer spending on what is turning into a fiscal black hole.

Dame Cath Tizard - Patron

Dame Catherine Tizard is quite simply a kiwi icon. From humble beginnings Cath was elected to the Auckland City Council in 1971 and began her three term Mayoralty of New Zealand’s biggest city in 1983. Between 1990 and 1996 she was Governor General of New Zealand.

As Patron of the Howard League she brings an unparalleled commitment to social justice, and a burning desire to reduce New Zealand’s rate of imprisonment which she describes as a ‘national disgrace’.

Mike Williams - Chief Executive Officer

There are many tried and proven ways of bringing down our prison population without endangering our communities. Logically there are three key intervention points – before someone goes to jail, while they serve their sentence and what happens to them on release.

We can keep people out of jail by paying attention to those who get expelled from school, and through Court ordered alcohol and drug rehabilitation (especially for first offenders).

We can help prisoners with their eventual peaceful reintegration while serving their sentences though basic literacy courses and upskilling (as many as half of New Zealand’s prisoners are functionally illiterate).

We can also canvass employers for jobs for appropriate released prisoners. Overseas research shows that leaving jail for a job heavily reduces the chance of reoffending.

This means practical programmes which The New Zealand Howard League can, with your help, get off the ground.

We don’t need to have so many people in jail and we don’t have to. It’s up to us to get organised.

On the straight and narrow with legal drivers

Hundreds of offenders and ex-prisoners are being given a second chance with our new driving programme aimed at helping young people off the pathway to prison and a life of crime.

NZ Howard League for Penal Reform CEO Mike Williams says the programme, which costs about the same as keeping one person in prison for one year clearly works and leads to jobs for the participants.

"65% of Māori offenders have a driving offense as part of their initial jail sentence and about 5% of jail sentences are just for driving without a license. Over 80% of all jobs require a drivers' license.

"There are no down-sides to this programme. We create safer, legal drivers, we help keep them out of jail and we make them employable; getting them off benefits."

A drivers' license also gives them identification which is critial for getting a bank account, for signing up for a rental property, and for any other situation where ID is needed.

We currently run driving programmes from probation centres in Hawkes Bay, Whangarei, Waktakere, as well as helping inmates pass their learner license from prison.

Our tutors can:

Want to help?

How to Help


We need your financial support to reach our objectives.
With your support we can reduce prisoner numbers without endangering the community, heavily reduce reoffending rates and save the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars.



Ten Dollars


Fifty Dollars





one hundred

One Hundred Dollars


Five Hundred Dollars



five hundred

How to Help


If you would like to become a member of the New Zealand Howard League our yearly membership fees are:


Unwaged Membership

Unwaged Membership


Student Membership



Student Membership


Pensioneer Membership

Pensioneer Membership


Full Membership



Full Membership

How to Help


The New Zealand Howard League is developing a number of programmes that require volunteer assistance. If you can help in anyway we would be glad to hear from you.

The Literacy In Jails Programme, is designed to help prisoners with general literacy requirements, to better prepare them for their release. If you have a background in education and would be interested in assisting, then please click below and send us your details by completing the email and someone will be in touch with you.


Click here to inquire




(09) 834 8100

PO Box 45228

Te Atatu Peninsula

Auckland 0610

New Zealand