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Fact check: 98% of prisoners are serious criminals

13 June 2018

Fact check: 98% of prisoners are serious criminals

Just a day after being hung out to dry by his Prime Minister, Justice Minister Andrew Little has returned the favour by failing to back up her false claims that New Zealand’s prisons are filled with low-level offenders, National’s Justice Spokesperson Mark Mitchell says.

“When asked today in Parliament to clarify exactly what the Prime Minister means by a ‘low-level offender’, Mr Little was unable to give a coherent explanation.

“The reality is 98 per cent of people in our prisons are there for Category 3 and Category 4 crimes. These are offences punishable by a prison sentence of two years or more, like murder, sexual violence and serious assault.

“What’s more, people in our prisons have an average of 46 convictions on their criminal record. This reflects a significant number of victims.

“Yet the Prime Minister has spent the last week making false claims that New Zealand has a ‘US-style’ justice system where prisons are being filled with low-level offenders – all to try and justify her Government’s reckless refusal to add the required number of prison beds.

“For a Government so focused on ‘justice reform’, it appears to know very little about the make-up of our prison population.

“This is seriously concerning because it means the Government has no idea what kind of people it will be letting out when it goes ahead with softening our bail, sentencing and parole laws.

“This incompetent and bumbling Government should spend less time lying to the public about the make-up of our prison population and more time on protecting New Zealanders.”

Table: Prison population as at 22 March 2018 (information provided by the Corrections Minister)

OFFENCE CATEGORYREMAND – ACCUSEDREMAND – CONVICTEDSENTENCEDTOTAL% OF PRISON POPULATION
1----0
27751962242.1
3214710096542969891
45666767387

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