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Labour throws open cell doors

Simon Power National Party Law & Order Spokesman

14 February 2006

Labour throws open cell doors to cover for budget blowout

Releasing one third of the prison population will not solve the severe overcrowding and overspending in the prisons system, says National's Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.

"Damien O'Connor's latest proposals to 'open' the prisons are not about rehabilitation. They are an ill-considered and knee-jerk response to the prisoner population crisis and the massive prison construction budget blowout.

"What is he up to? His colleague Phil Goff spent six years trying unsuccessfully to convince the public that Labour is not soft on crime and Damien O'Connor goes on one overseas junket three months after getting the job and comes back with stars in his eyes and wants to throw open the prison gates.

"I would have to be convinced far beyond one fact-finding junket that this plan will work.

"Just because these methods work in Finland doesn't mean they will work here. For one thing they have a homicide rate that is far greater than ours, so already the demographics are quite different.

"Corrections have to walk before they can run. They have to get the basics right first. Parole and home detention are not working. The so-called low-risk prisoners who get home detention and parole were responsible for most of the more than 4,000 parole and bail breaches in the past three years.

"We have these options available to us at the moment but they aren't working.

"Surely we have to get these basics right before trying something even more complicated," says Mr Power. "The public has no appetite for softer options for prisoners.

"I wonder what the Justice Minister thinks of these ideas. Has Damien O'Connor spoken to him? And what about his coalition colleagues in NZ First and United Future?

"The answer is to let the private sector in so we can introduce some competitiveness to the building and running of prisons."

ENDS

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