Robson-On-Politics: Laura Norder Hits Headlines
Robson-On-Politics - 1 July 2008
FOR A PROGRESSIVE LABOUR GOVENMENT PARTY VOTE PROGRESSIVE 2008
LAURA NORDER HITS THE HEADLINES
I know readers are sick of celebrities who are celebrities because they are celebrities but here is another one hitting the headlines. Laura Norder appears every election time at this time of the cycle. Her appearances, staged, become more and more frequent even though she has never done anything useful nor provided society with any positive solutions to its ills. However, politicians clamour to be seen with her in public despite making disparaging comments about her in private. She seems to have some sort of hold over them and they don’t dare to say that she actually has no clothes. Laura is always at functions and events put on by a group calling itself the Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST). Politicians turn up at these events in droves because they know Laura will be there and they want to be photographed with her. Silly Simon Power, National’s spokesman to rid New Zealand of all crime, has even promised Laura a brand new prison to imprison ever single person in New Zealand who commits crime. SST also infatuated with Laura and willing to promise her the world without telling her how it will be paid for or providing any proof of its effectiveness, parrots Laura’s line that if only every single person who commits a crime was jailed, and the sentences given were increased dramatically and there was no parole there would be no crime. Now if it was actually a Sensible Discussion on Sentencing Trust it would look at the facts on crime and see that such a non-solution has not worked anywhere and that no country in the world, let alone New Zealand, could even afford to pay for such a policy. The country that has come closest to this approach is the United States. It has spent billions on prisons and longer sentences, at the expense of effective social and preventive programmes. Even Laura and the SST are not bold enough, although they hint at it, to explicitly say that that the United States has solved the problem of crime. My advice is to forget Laura and her camp followers if you want sensible policies ( and who doesn’t?) for tackling crime and start looking at the facts on crime and at policies which work not what policies are said to be soft or hard on crime.
There has been public outrage and concern at the recent cold-blooded killings in South Auckland. And understandably so. But it is important to realise that youth crime and the murder rate has not been rising. Those rates have actually dropped. In the past two years the numbers of murders have dropped from 109 t0 88. There have been 8 murders in the Counties Manukau police districts in 2007 compared with 27 in 2006. The murder rate in 2008 is not higher than the comparable period in 2007. Parole has been harder to get for a considerable period of time. Imprisonment rates have increased and sentences have been longer for crimes considered to be the most heinous. New prisons have been built.
One More Prison Is the Final Solution Says National
The Party that is saying it has answers to criminal offending has come up with a new prison and boot camps as its solution. Ngawha prison, a 400 bed facility cost $137 million to build. The cost of running it is high. In the last five years three other prisons have been constructed or are underway. How is National going to pay for this new prison, let alone the existing prisons, when it is also offering further tax cuts? Does that mean that the very social and educational programmes aimed at the youth at risk who become tomorrow’s offenders and fill our jails will be cut? And why are boot camps proposed when the evidence is that they do not cut youth offending and are worse than useless. Analysis also shows that prisons are only a small part of the jigsaw puzzle. Those inside cannot commit crimes but they had to commit the crime to get there in the first place. Prisons have a limited deterrence effect.
Prisons most important role is containing those who are dangerous to society. But so far, no matter what the length of the sentence prisons don’t prevent a high recidivism rate nor overcome enough of the drug, alcohol and low-skill levels of most inmates.
What does work?
New Zealand and international analysis shows that intervention with the very young at- risk is the most effective policy to prevent offending. Wrap- Around -Programmes with at-risk five year olds, which also deal with the family problems, cost $5000, on average, per child and are 80 percent effective in preventing later offending. The same approach with 17 or 18 year old is $20,000 but with only a 20 percent success rate. Early intervention works. The average inmate in New Zealand is in his twenties, has severe alcohol and other drug dependencies, illiterate or semi-illiterate, no work skills and comes from a dysfunctional family with a high familiarity with violence as a daily occurrence. They often have mental illnesses and depression is common. Of course we need adequate police and prison space. But if the health system only built more and more hospitals to deal with heart disease, diabetes and obesity and did not heavily invest in prevention the public would be marching, and voting, to demand that investment.
The Progressive Party has advised Laura that it does not want to attend her celebrity occasions with SST. Instead Progressive will release policy which supports adequate police numbers and sufficient prison space to house those dangerous to society. However Progressive will promote effective intervention programmes, the earlier the better, , control on the use of alcohol, illegal drug prevention, economic development and full employment, free education and health care, adequate and affordable housing, cultural, sporting and cultural promotion.
Authorised by Phil Clearwater, 5 Sherwood Lane, Christchurch.