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Securing communities – Labour’s Corrections policy

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Corrections

6 November 2008 Media Statement

Securing our communities – Labour’s Corrections policy 2008


Tough laws on bail, parole, sentencing and gangs and a much bigger police force with significantly higher rates of resolving crime have seen soaring imprisonment rates for criminal offenders, says Corrections Minister Phil Goff.

“Prison numbers are projected to rise further over coming years, with New Zealand already locking up many more criminal offenders than other comparable countries,” Phil Goff said.

“Securing our communities and keeping people safe from crime is our paramount objective, and I make no apology for serious offenders now serving much longer prison sentences and in greater numbers.

“However, our objective is to get crime rates down rather than simply imprisonment rates up,” Mr Goff said.

“Therefore, while ensuring that we have sufficient capacity in the Corrections system to meet demand and that the system is successful in securing inmates the future direction of policy must also be to emphasise tackling the causes of offending and reoffending.

“Our Government has spent more than $1 billion on four new prisons and 3300 extra prison beds, and hundreds of millions more on annual operating costs. Prisons are more secure, with a cut of 84 per cent in prison escapes since 1999, and a two thirds reduction in drug use in prisons.

“But we need to invest more in building the fence at the top of the cliff rather than diverting billions of dollars more just into investing in more and more prisons.

“The Effective Interventions programme will involve more emphasis and put more resources into early intervention for effective parenting and tackling the bad family environments that breed anti-social behaviour.

“More emphasis will be placed on dealing with the serious issues of drug and alcohol abuse in the community, as well as in prison.

“Specifically, within prisons Labour will invest more in tackling some of the social causes of reoffending – drug and alcohol abuse, poor literacy, numeracy and lack of job skills and mental illness.

To reduce reoffending, Labour will:

create 1000 new jobs for inmates in prisons, building on the extra 900 jobs created since 2006, to ensure inmates gain work habits, experience and skills.
boost drug and alcohol treatment programmes, on top of the expansion from 40 to 500 intensive treatment places already achieved, with $18 million in resources allocated for community based treatment for at risk offenders and post-release inmates.
achieve 1850 places a year on literacy and numeracy courses for inmates.
continue to expand job skill training and inmate achievement of New Zealand Qualifications Authority credits, already up from 20,350 in 2006/07 to 37,563 in 2007/08.
implement a mental health screening tool to better identify and make provision for inmates with mental disorders.

To further secure prisons, Labour will

ensure full cell-phone jamming of prisons by the first quarter of 2009.
subject all external communications by inmates to recording and monitoring to detect criminal activity.
enact the Corrections Amendment Bill strengthening control over and toughening penalties on bringing contraband into prisons
• commence a programme to replace less secure, obsolete and uneconomic prison facilities, with work already started on Mt Eden.

“Labour has delivered on its 1999 election promises to be tough on crime. Our hugely increased prison population is testament to that. Over the next three years we will continue that tough policy in particular with a crackdown on gangs and drugs.

“But our programme will also invest in preventive action to stop people committing crime in the first place, preventing people becoming victims and ensuring a safer society,” Phil Goff said.

Labour’s Corrections policy 2008 can be found at:
http://www.labour08.co.nz/policies/Keeping+New+Zealanders+Safe/Corrections

ENDS

Corrections_summary.pdf
Corrections_policy.pdf

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