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How much is your freedom worth?

How much is your freedom worth?

“JustSpeak is concerned about calls from some groups that Stuart Murray Wilson should be sent back to prison because of the cost of keeping him under his current release conditions. What price do we as New Zealanders place of a person’s liberty and basic human rights?”

“Figures released by the Department of Corrections show that Mr Wilson’s current arrangements have cost $209,313 since he was released just under three months ago, whereas it costs around $100,000 to keep someone in prison for a year. But it is important to remember the reasons why Mr Wilson was released, in particular that he had served his sentence for the crimes he was convicted of and because we have fundamental human rights which protect individuals’ liberty against the power of the State.”

“We have rules against passing news laws to penalise people in ways that didn’t exist when they committed offences, were convicted, and sentenced. It is one of the fundamental principles of the rule of law, which also protects individuals from the disproportionate power of the State, that our laws should not be retrospective. That means that we should be able to know what the law is that applies to us and it should not be able to be changed on us after the event.”

“JustSpeak is concerned that the reactions to the release of these figures and measures such as the proposed Public Protection Orders suggest a lack of willingess from the public to recognise the basic human rights to which all New Zealanders are entitled. These rights must not be worn away – even in response to extraordinary cases.”
“Protecting the public from violent and sexual offenders is of the utmost importance. But there is no evidence that incarceration actually reduces reoffending. It can only protect the public while offenders are locked up and actually increases the likelihood of reoffending after release. If we want a safer community we need to look at alternatives to incarceration – we cannot keep people locked up forever.”

“When it comes to violent and sexual offenders who have served their sentences but are assessed as posing a high risk of reoffending, we need to look at innovative ways to keep the public safe, while protecting the rights of all New Zealanders, including offenders. This also provides an opportunity to look for more cost-effective ways to dealing with high risk offenders.”

“For example, in the United Kingdom Circles of Support and Accountability have been set up. These involve trained volunteers from the community forming a circle around a person with a history of sexual offencding who has a potentially high risk reoffending, and who is about to live in the community. The circle provides both practical and emotional support to the former inmates. It holds them to account and challenges their attempts to rationalise or minimise their offending.”

“Such programmes have the potential for significant long term cost reductions, but also to successfully rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders, and consequently lead to safer communities.”
ends

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