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Unlocking Prisons series to challenge NZ reliance on prisons

5 April 2013

Unlocking Prisons series to challenge New Zealand’s reliance on prisons

An upcoming three-part series of panel discussions with leading academics, politicians, legal practitioners, former prisoners and community advocates seeks to challenge New Zealand’s over-reliance on imprisonment.

The first part of the Unlocking Prisons series will start with a panel discussion in both Auckland and Wellington entitled “Unlocking Prisons: What is the cost of our reliance on imprisonment?”

The Wellington forum will include: Labour Party Justice Spokesperson Andrew Little; Professor John Pratt from Victoria University, author of Contrasts in Punishment: An Explanation of Anglophone Excess and Nordic Exceptionalism; and Grant Burston, Crown Solicitor and expert in criminal procedure and the law of evidence.

This forum will be held at 6pm on Wednesday 10 April at St John’s in the City, Corner of Willis and Dixon Streets, Wellington.

“For many years, prisons have been the central feature of New Zealand’s penal justice system. We will evaluate how the current system is serving both society and individuals who face imprisonment, and possible alternatives that may be more effective in achieving the purpose that prisons seek to achieve,” says JustSpeak Spokesperson, Lydia Nobbs.

“JustSpeak believes that we as a society have chosen prisons as the way we respond to crime, and in the face of the many weaknesses of the current prison model – including its effectiveness or lack thereof and the associated costs to society and the individual – we believe it is time to look beyond prisons.”

Further forums will follow in May and June in both Auckland and Wellington.


The series has been organised by JustSpeak, a non-partisan network of young people speaking to and speaking up for change in our criminal justice system.

JustSpeak was formed at the beginning of 2011 as the youth arm of Rethinking Crime and Punishment. The guiding ethos driving JustSpeak is that young people have much to offer to the national conversation on criminal justice. Among other things, young people bring an imaginative outlook, a feeling of urgency and a sense of hope. Since forming, JustSpeak has made a number of contributions, including: holding a series of monthly forums in Wellington and Auckland; submitting on a range of legislation; consultations with stakeholders and communities on a range of criminal justice issues; publishing a report entitled “Maori and the Criminal Justice System: A youth perspective”; holding a camp with over 100 young people from across New Zealand, and more.


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