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Government urged to reduce prison population

Government urged to reduce prison population

Date : 24th February 2015

“In its latest e-publication, “If Prisons are a Cause of Crime, Why Not Reduce the Numbers?”http://www.rethinking.org.nz/default.aspx?page=5347 Rethinking Crime and Punishment are urging government to reduce the prison population by 15%, and reinvest the savings into more effective ways of reducing crime and social harm.”

“The Ministry of Justice estimates that the current operating model is likely to cost at least $140 million more than current baselines by 2017/18. In our view, this cost is unacceptable and avoidable.”

“In 2014, government predicted that by June 2017, there would be 600 less prisoners than in
2011, when there were 8,488 prisoners in the system. The target then was to reduce the prison population to around 7,888. As at February 2015, there were 8,831 in prison, 343 more than in 2011. To achieve the original target, the government will now have to reduce the present prison numbers by 943 prisoners before June 2017.”

The government’s target was based on two false assumptions; (a) that in-prison rehabilitation programmes have the potential to significantly reduce reoffending, (b) that there is a connection between crime reduction and imprisonment rates; i.e. that as reoffending rates come down, so will prison numbers.”

We propose a new Better Public Service target; to reduce the prison population by 15% by 2017. Such a target would require a planned strategy based on a thorough assessment, details of which are outlined in the publication.”

Our larger concern is that current policy debates about sentencing and the use and appropriateness of imprisonment avoids questions of principle; so our latest publication proposes a set of principles to guide government through this process. Our approach to justice should reflect the collective values and attitudes of the nation, and a consultative strategy to reduce the current level of imprisonment is an important step in that direction.

Link: http://www.rethinking.org.nz/default.aspx?page=5347

Hard copies are available by emailingoffice@rethinking.org.nz. When requesting a hard copy please consider a Koha to help cover our costs by clicking here.


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