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Labour’s prison plan failing

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

10 January 2008

Labour’s prison plan failing

Labour needs to admit that its policies on reducing the prison population are failing, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

“One of the key policies of the Government’s Effective Interventions initiative launched in 2006, was the introduction of electronic bail for remand prisoners.

“The Ministry of Justice estimated that it was expected to save 120 prison beds a year but Corrections has calculated that, on average, only 21 beds were saved as a result.

“A further report on the implementation of Effective Interventions, which was put to Cabinet in October, also concluded that electronic bail had ‘not so far produced the bed savings anticipated’.

“This followed an earlier update from March 2007, in which officials conceded that ‘any reductions in Effective Interventions related savings will require additional prison beds and may require new prisons to be built’.

“Even in the coming year, Corrections estimates that electronic bail will only save 40 to 60 beds, although officials are ‘implementing a number of strategies to increase the uptake’ of e-bail.

“Isn’t it about time Labour acknowledged its grand plan to reduce the prison population is inherently flawed and no amount of tweaking will change that.

“It is an abysmal failure. Even Phil Goff, when he was asked as Minister of Justice in 2005 to look into ways to reduce prison numbers, said ‘I do not propose electronic monitoring as a condition of bail be reconsidered at this time’.

“Labour needs to go back to the drawing board, and fast.”


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