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Slogans No Substitute For Good Policy - Nandor

21 June 2002

Green Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos today said the election hype on law and order was ignoring the evidence and treating voters' with contempt.

Yesterday Dr Gabrielle Maxwell from Victoria University's Crime and Justice Research Unit warned that a hard line on criminals led to harder criminals and that the longer people were kept in prison the greater the chance they would re-offend.

"Some politicians are promising longer sentences, the abolition of parole and 'stark and unpleasant' prisons. Those people choose to ignore the evidence, preferring catchy slogans that play on peoples' fears.

"As Dr Maxwell notes, longer sentences lead to greater re-offending and an increase in serious and violent crime. If people look behind the billboards, this is what National and ACT's policies would lead to."

In most European countries 80 people per 100,000 residents are imprisoned. Britain imprisons 125 people per 100,000, Australia 110 and Denmark and Norway 60. New Zealand imprisons 145 people per 100,000.

"Too many people are in New Zealand prisons and, as Dr Maxwell notes, most inmates are not there for violent crime and are not 'dangerous' to others.

"The Greens do not congratulate Matt Robson for announcing more prisons than any other Minister, as Jim Anderton has done. If people do not present a danger to the community, why put them in prison?"

"Victoria University's Crime and Justice Research Unit say we should lock fewer people up for shorter periods of time and push for community-based rehabilitative sentences. This has always been Green policy.

"When a crime is committed the real problem is not that a law has been broken, but that someone has been hurt. We believe that the first priority must be to heal the harm caused by crime, and victims must be at the central of the justice process."

Nandor said there was no real debate happening on law and order, just sloganeering.

"If people actually take a look at the evidence they will see that the parties that are promising a tougher approach are actually the pro-crime parties."


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