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"Don't just look to Finland", Greens tell O'Connor

14 February 2006

"Don't just look to Finland", Greens tell O'Connor

Corrections Minister Damien O'Connor should be congratulated for for adopting overseas models of 'open prisons', but is in danger of ignoring lessons from his own country, according to Green Party Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos.

"I have long advocated looking to places like Finland for ideas on reducing crime and prison numbers, and am pleased that the Minister has done that and has taken community representatives with him.

"Let's not forget, though, that the most comprehensive review of New Zealand's prison system ever done has been systematically ignored by governments since the day it was written. The Roper Report contained a number of very positive ideas on reducing re-offending rates and the Minister should dust it off and have a read," Nandor says.

The 1989 Ministerial Inquiry into the Prison System, also known as the Roper Report, made a comprehensive set of recommendations, including a move towards the use of small scale '(re)habilitation centres' for suitable offenders, in contrast to the current approach of large scale prisons with virtually non-existent rehabilitation or education.

"The massive problems in New Zealand prisons, made worse by the policies of this Labour Government, must not be forgotten while the Government trials new ideas. We've had the solutions for 17 years now; what we have lacked is political will," Nandor says.

ENDS

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