Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Reoffending rates down, while prison numbers increase

Reported crime and reoffending rates down, while prison numbers increase


Rethinking Crime and Punishment is calling for a review into why the imprisonment levels have not shifted in the wake of significant reductions in recorded crime and reoffending.

Spokesperson Kim Workman says that a review is needed into why prison numbers have hovered around 8,600 for about three years. “While the Minister of Corrections reported that there has been a 17.4 percent reduction in reported crime over the last three years, and a 12.6% reduction in reoffending since June 2011, she did not mention that the prison levels have gone up from 8,351 in January to around 8,554 last week, even though there has been a reduction in the number of people sent to prison. That figure is about 11% higher than it was in 2006/07, when the average prisoner population was 7,734 people.

There are a number of contributing factors.

First, The numbers of sentences in excess of 2 years, and therefore subject to the Parole system, rose from 1200 receptions per year in 2005 to 2000 per year in 2009.

Second, the Parole Board has taken an increasingly conservative stance, with prisoners spending longer in prison. In 2000, prisoners spent an average of 50% of their sentence in prison. By 2013, they were serving 75% of their time in prison. About 23% of those eligible for parole are not released until or near the Sentence Expiry Date.

Third, a risk-averse culture now permeates the prison system. Prisoners are more likely to be described in official reports and psychological assessments as a risk to public safety, and the Parole Board rarely questions that judgement, or seeks an independent assessment. Departmental psychologists spend a disproportionate amount of their time on risk assessment, and less time providing clinical support. As a result, prisoners are more likely to treat psychologists with fear and suspicion, rather than as agents of support ; they know that the psychologist’s interpretation of their responses to questions will influence their suitability for release.

Fourth, prisoners appearing before the Parole Board increasingly find themselves in a ‘Catch 22’ situation. The Parole Board often recommends their release be conditional on completion of a rehabilitation programme or taking steps toward reintegration, for example, by having home leave or making family contact. When the department fails to provide the programme, or deliberately withholds reintegration opportunities, the prisoner is faced with the prospect of serving another year in prison, when they could well have been released if those conditions had been fulfilled. In the worst cases, it can amount to arbitrary detention.

The other emerging issue, is that prisoner reintegration plans presented to the Board, do not always meet the standards required for the Board to approve release. There needs to be a different approach, with more proactive engagement from community organisations and whanau ora providers, who have access both to prisoners and to the Parole Board.
There is clearly a bottle neck at the interface between the department and the Parole Board. An independent review of the systemic and procedural impediments, could well result in a reduction in imprisonment levels.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

Royals: The Prince Of Wales And Duchess Of Cornwall To Visit

Prime Minister John Key welcomes today’s announcement that the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will visit New Zealand in November. This will be the second joint visit for Their Royal Highnesses to New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

Tracey Martin Replaced: Ron Mark Is New New Zealand First Deputy Leader

Clayton Mitchell was the successful candidate for the Associate Whip position. Winston Peters was re-elected as Leader by the Caucus. Ron Mark was elected as the Deputy Leader with effect from 10am, Friday, 3rd July. More>>

ALSO:

Rebuild Rebrand: "Regenerate Christchurch" To Replace CERA

The regeneration of Christchurch will be the city’s focus for the next five years as local leadership progressively takes control of the rebuild, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says. More>>

ALSO:

Nauru: Scholars Urge Minister To Act On Deteriorating Democracy

“Since the 2013 election in Nauru, there has been a series of disturbing developments on the islands that indicate a severe deterioration in the state of its parliamentary democracy and in the rule of law,” say the scholars. More>>

ALSO:

Foreign Affairs: NZ Begins Presidency Of UN Security Council

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed the start of New Zealand’s month-long Presidency of the United Nations Security Council in New York. More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Cash For Charter Schools, Mould For State Schools

“Recently released financial statements show the Whangarei charter school He Puna Marama received $3.9 million in government funding to the end of last year. Yet their audited accounts show they only spent $1.4 million on education, leaving almost $2.5 million over two years unaccounted for." More>>

ALSO:

Kiwirail Plans Shift From Electric: National Urged Not To Take Backwards Step

The National Government shouldn’t drag New Zealand backwards by replacing its climate friendly electric trains with carbon-polluting diesel trains, the Green Party said today. More>>

ALSO:

Capital Connection:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news