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No More New Prisons And Justice That Works

11 July 2002

Green MP Nandor Tanczos today launched the party's justice policy, calling for a moratorium on new prisons. The policy is available at http://www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/policy4754.html/

He asked voters to look behind the election year hype on 'law and order' and vote for policies based on fact.

Launching the policy at the site of the controversial proposed new prison at Ngawha, Nandor said victims of crime must be central to the justice process and that rehabilitation and halting re-offending must be the focus of how we deal with offenders.

"The Green policy acknowledges there are a small number of violent criminals who pose an ongoing danger to the community and who need to be locked up. However many of the people currently in prison do not need to be there and can be dealt with in much more productive ways," said Nandor.

* In the year 2000 20 per cent of all cases resulting in a prison sentence were for traffic offences. Thirty one per cent of all prison sentences were for property offences; * Upon release from prison 86 per cent of ex-inmates are re-convicted of an offence within five years. Sixty-two per cent of prison inmates have been in prison before; * New Zealand imprisons 145 people per 100,000 residents, compared with 125 in Britain, 110 in Australia and 60 in Denmark and Norway.

"If people are not a threat to others the Greens believe there are better ways to punish offenders, redress the harm they have caused and prevent future offending than by imprisonment. The facts support this position."

The head of Victoria University's Crime and Justice Research Unit Dr Gabrielle Maxwell has warned the public to be wary of political rhetoric on 'law and order', saying international research shows longer sentences tended to result in an increase in re-offending - particularly serious and violent re-offending.

Dr Maxwell also notes that most inmates were not in prison for violent offences and were not 'dangerous' to others. If people want safer communities they should consider locking up fewer people for shorter periods and pushing for a focus on community-based, rehabilitative sentences.

"This is the kind of evidence that the Green Justice policy has always been based and this is why the Greens are calling for an immediate moratorium on more new prisons.

"The Greens want to cut crime, cut re-offending and ensure offenders front up and take responsibility for the damage they cause. Above all we are committed to a different kind of justice that makes victims of crime central to the process and gives priority to healing the harm caused by crime."

Ends

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