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Dunne seeks holistic approach to gang problem


Monday, 15 September 2008

Dunne seeks holistic approach to gang problem

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne is adamant that new legislation to outlaw gangs is only a small part of the solution to stop gang behaviour.

“It is undeniable that New Zealand has a problem with violent gangs, however merely cracking down on gangs and throwing gang members in prison will not provide the solution to the overall problem.

“The problem with prison is that it does not do what it should, which is to rehabilitate inmates, if we wish to get tough on gangs then we need to restructure the prison system to better meet the needs of offenders.

“Nearly 75% of all inmates are re-convicted within two years of release. 37% are back in prison within two years and 51% within five years.

“It is well-known that the majority of inmates in New Zealand prisons have a drug or alcohol addiction and yet only 4% of those with an addiction are provided with specialist treatment services.”

“I have talked to past and present inmates, the Prison Fellowship and the Salvation Army and they all tell me that alcohol and drug abuse is one of the most common contributors to the high rate of recidivism in New Zealand."

The Government has estimated the cost of building prison cells to house inmates will rise to $1.2 billion by 2014; banning gangs will blow that budget out further unless the next Government commits to compulsory drug and alcohol treatment programs for those inmates with addictions.

“UnitedFuture believes very strongly that incarceration should be aimed at rehabilitating an inmate in the expectation that once released they can make a worthwhile and positive contribution to society,” said Mr Dunne.

ENDS

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