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New Zealand can Learn from Californian Prisons

New Zealand can Learn from Californian Prisons

“New Zealand needs to take a close look at what happens when government pursues a high imprisonment policy, in the face of a relatively stable crime rate”, said Kim Workman, Project Leader, Rethinking Crime and Punishment Project.

He was commenting on a Californian proposal to release 13% of all Californian prisoners early. Californian Governor. Arnold Schwarzenegger is taking a hard look at a proposal from the Californian Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to release 22,000 non-violent inmates nearing the end of their sentences. This is an amazing reversal for a law-and-order governor who last year pushed through an $8 billion prison expansion.The measure will save $360 million, and help him with a $3.3 billion shortfall in the state budget.

“The introduction of three strikes legislation, mandatory minimum sentences, and imprisonment for technical violation of parole conditions, is finally biting the hand that fed it,” said Kim Workman. “The question you have to ask is – if the Californians are prepared to release 22,000 prisoners early, why are they in prison? New Zaland must never get into a situation of that kind”

Under Schwarzenegger, the prison budget has soared 79 percent while the prison population has increased only 8 percent. The idea would mark quite a reversal for a law-and-order governor who last year pushed through an $8 billion prison expansion. Prison experts have been saying for years that prisons are filled with inmates stuck there on technical violations, so the idea deserves a hard look.

“California already spends more on prisons than on universities. There comes a time when policies of high imprisonment become unsustainable.and are a waste of taspayer money."



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