Victims' rights forgotten in "Schools of Crime"
6 October 2008
Victims' rights forgotten in Nat's "Schools of Crime": Greens
National's controversial plan to focus on New Zealand's worst criminals ignores our victims of crime, says the Green Party.
Green MP Metiria Turei says National's proposal to spend $314 million on a new prison, then $43 million a year to run it, is short sighted and won't reduce crime. The policy solely targets criminals - with a predicted increase of 572 prison inmates - and has no mention of victims or rehabilitation programmes for offenders.
"National is committed to focusing on New Zealand's worst 500 criminals, and budgeting more than a billion dollars to build and run a prison. Yet no equivalent funding has been budgeted for reparation to victims or drug and alcohol programmes for offenders.
"Spending more than a billion dollars on our 500 worst crims is crazy and National's policy is a giant leap backwards to the 19th century. It will reinforce jails as 'Schools of Crime' where young offenders learn how to become hardened criminals," Mrs Turei says.
"We need to think smart on crime. Half of the money National proposes spending on building and running a new prison would yield far better results if spent on supporting victims, restorative justice and rehabilitation programmes.
"Four out of five offenders have drug and alcohol problems, 40 percent have been diagnosed with mental illness and four out of 10 prison inmates are serving sentences of less than six months, so are ineligible for rehab programmes.
"Our number one priority should be getting to these people and turning their lives around before they become repeat offenders. Rehabilitation programmes, and more support for crime victims are essential.
"While anyone who's been victimised by crime naturally wants the offender punished, National's 'get tough' policy won't actually reduce offending. Spending money on rehabilitation programmes will reduce crime in our communities. Locking people up for longer won't."