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Labour makes second U-turn on prisons

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

8 March 2006

Labour makes second U-turn on prisons

The Labour Government has been embarrassed into making its second major
U-turn in its prisons policy in as many months, says National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.

“After spending months telling us his Government would not be building more prisons, Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor has changed his mind.

“He is quoted today on the need to plan for more prisons: ‘I am determined to build only what is absolutely necessary.’ (The Dominion Post)

“But this is in direct contrast to last November when he was reported as saying ‘there are no plans to build more prisons’, even though his own department was warning they will all be full by 2010. (Radio NZ, 22/11/05)

“If that doesn’t sound like a U-turn then I don’t know what does. Damien O’Connor is clearly softening the ground because he knows there is no public appetite for his plan to open prison doors for 30% of the prison population.

“This is the second serious U-turn he has been forced into since he stumbled into the portfolio a few months ago. Unfortunately for the prisons system and the public those stumbles have turned to staggers.

“Just last month he said he wanted to let 30% of prisoners out – people like thieves, repeat drink-drivers and some people convicted of sex crimes.

“That softer approach to crime is in direct contrast to what the then Ministers of Corrections and Justice were trying to claim last year: that they were tough on crime and that their sentencing laws were putting more people behind bars.

“If this is the sort of policy-making we get from one overseas trip for which just the airfares alone cost $31,500 – with invoices for accommodation, internal transport, receptions and other costs still to come – then we have a problem.

“Labour’s prisons policy is in total disarray,” says Mr Power.

ENDS

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