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Its time for About Time

10 February 2005

Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader

Its time for About Time

Progressive MP Matt Robson said today that Chief Justice Sian Elias' thoughtful speech, 'Criminology in the age of talkback', is an important contribution to the public debate on crime and how to really beat it. "In every community throughout history people have been concerned about crime.

"The skyrocketing crime of the 1980s and 1990s, as the chief justice notes, witnessed a rise in the average prison muster in New Zealand of about 100% between 1985 and 1999.

"But the international evidence indicates also that a knee-jerk policy of locking up all offenders in prisons for ever-longer periods is not in fact helping reduce overall re-offending, but may in some cases be encouraging re-offending which is not in the interests of anyone," Matt Robson said.

"The public has the right to know that the evidence is that community-based sentences are, for some less serious offenders, a more effective alternative to long prison sentences in terms of reducing re-offending.

"Long prison sentences, right for serious criminals, can be counter-productive for some less serious offenders and that is counter-productive to the long-term security and financial interests of society as a whole," the Progressive MP said.

"We must be serious about beating back re-offending. We need as a community to have the courage to look at all the evidence and not pretend that a knee-jerk response of just locking all people up in prison for longer and longer periods is a magic bullet when in some cases it may be making matters worse," he said.

In 2001, former Corrections Minister Matt Robson heading a ministerial taskforce involving Justice, Police, Corrections and others. That resulted in the release of a broad-based strategy to tackle crime in society called About Time.

ENDS

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