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Collect The Answers On Christmas Release Policy

Collect The Answers On Christmas Release Policy

Friday 13 Dec 2002 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice -- Zero Tolerance for Crime

ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks has today written to Corrections Minister Mark Gosche putting him on notice to collect the data on the experience with the Christmas `get out of jail free' policy.

"I want to ensure the Corrections Department cannot say in doesn't have the data when we ask, after Christmas, how it has worked," said Mr Franks.

"If this is policy is so valuable they use it to override decisions reached in open court by independent judges, presumably there will be some record of an attempt by Mr Gosche's officials to assess benefits against costs. If so, there should be data about the experience of prisoners released on due dates, compared with outcomes for those released early," Mr Franks said.

"We should know how many of the 234 prisoners expected to get early release, are arrested for reoffending over the Christmas period. We should also know how many have shown signs of more effective "reintegration" as a result of early release, and should also how much the Corrections Department has saved by lowering prison muster during that period.

"I will want to know whether there there has been any attempt to count the cost of any increased crime that might attribute to the impression created by the policy, that the country and the prison service are not serious about punishment, and can subvert court orders?

"Information about offending prisoners on early release may be not be readily available, as my past enquiries about offending on parole have met with claims that the data is not held. Given the obvious public interest in the Christmas early release policy, my notice is so that the Minister may give instructions to ensure the data is available.

"If prisoners given early release are under probation supervision, then the Probation Service can be asked to keep a special record. That could result in an unnaturally lower level of reoffending by early release prisoners.

"Even if that distorts the data, at least potential victims who escape being victimised will be grateful," Mr Franks said.

ENDS.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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