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NZ Prison system derided by international study

the howard league
Christchurch + Dunedin + Wellington

Press release 25 March 2012
Expensive, ineffective, racist prison system derided by international study

Crime rates have continued to increase as New Zealand’s imprisonment rates have soared, according to an international report undertake by the British Audit Office.

New Zealand has the second highest imprisonment rate among comparable countries, caused by policy changes and a political “bidding war” over more than fifteen years.

Jarrod Gilbert, Howard League advocate, said that international comparisons showed that New Zealand’s prison population was growing at the fastest rate – 17 percent over four years.

“We now have a third more prisoners than Australia. In dollar terms, New Zealand could save $275 million just by bringing our prison population down to Australian rates”.

The report’s case study on New Zealand found:

• New Zealand ranks first in the world on the Global Peace Index, which measures things such as corruption and violent crime rates;
• Despite this, New Zealanders felt relatively unsafe;
• The imprisonment rate is recognised as being among the highest in the world; and
• Māori imprisonment rates are enormous – 700 per 100,000 of the population compared with199 overall.

“The Māori imprisonment rate used in the study came from a 2008 Corrections Department report”, said Dr Gilbert. “The rate will be higher than that now and is a national disgrace”.

“No other peaceful country imprisons its indigenous people at such a high rate”.

The Howard League says that the report is an epitaph for a failed system. “We put our junior criminals into prison, which trains them to be senior criminals. What we need is a system that encourages good, healthy lives, gainful employment and systems that heal and restore. Punitive systems breed anger and alienation, and we see the effects of this in New Zealand”.


ends

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