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Labour continues to gamble with public safety

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

21 September 2008

Labour continues to gamble with public safety

The Labour Government continues to put the cost of keeping people in prison ahead of public safety, says National’s Justice and Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

He is commenting on a report that says it costs $21,907 a year to keep a prisoner on home detention compared with $76,639 in prison.

“That’s why Labour has this fascination with home detention as a sentence – it’s cheaper. It saves prison beds.

“Under Labour’s home detention scheme, more and more violent, sex, and drug offenders are serving their sentences in the community.

“In 2006/07, 801 of the 1517 offenders sentenced to home detention had been convicted of these offences, compared to 39% in 2001/02, including:

• 426 for violence, compared to 136 in 2001/02

• 286 for drugs, compared to 186

• 89 for sex offences, compared to 19.

"And that was even before Labour introduced home detention as a stand-alone sentence in October last year.

“That move broadened the number of eligible offenders even further, and since then the breach rate of home detention has jumped from 3.5% to 9.7%.

“Some of the offenders now being sentenced to home detention aren't even being monitored electronically because Corrections can't install the systems fast enough. In some cases they are going for days without a bracelet.

“National firmly believes that home detention as a sentence must be restricted to only low-level offenders who pose no direct threat to the community – as opposed to Labour which has put its obsession with reducing prison inmates ahead of public safety.

“National has said that if keeping the public safe means we have to build a new prison, then we will do that. We make no apologies for that.

“Labour has had nine years to sort out our criminal justice issues, and has very little to show for it.

“National is committed to improving the safety and security of our communities.”


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