Canterbury prison programme marks 10 years of hard work to rehabilitate violent criminals

A Canterbury prison programme that has helped some of the system's most violent offenders turn away from crime celebrated its 10th year today.

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The Matapuna Special Treatment Unit at Christchurch Men's Prison has helped hundreds of inmates turn their lives around. Source: 1 NEWS

Five hundred inmates have been through the intensive programme over the last decade.

Violent crimes have seen one inmate 1 NEWS talked to spend most of his life behind bars.

“The first time I came to jail was for armed robbery,” he said.

His long list of prison sentences adds up to over 20 years and he's only in his 30s.

He’s just spent the last nine months at the Matapuna Special Treatment Unit.

“It's easy to come in here and just tick the box to get out of jail. But I didn't come here to get out of jail. I came here to get out of the lifestyle," he said.

Usually prisoners who've committed violent crimes like murder and rape have a 60 per cent chance of re-offending.

This programme has cut that down to 25 per cent.