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Up to 87 percent of prisoners unemployed before prison


Up to 87 percent of prisoners unemployed before prison

An Official Information Act response to No Pride in Prisons states that up to 87 percent of New Zealand’s prisoners were unemployed immediately before their imprisonment.

“This is yet more evidence that while the rich get richer, the poor get prison,” says No Pride in Prisons press spokesperson Emilie Rākete.

In the Official Information Act response, Corrections Deputy Chief Executive Vincent Arbuckle states that “87 percent of prisoners did not pay any form of income tax in the month before entering prison. This indicates that 87 percent were unemployed, working for income but not paying tax, receiving a benefit, or being financially supported by another person.”

“Only 13 percent were employed or self-employed in a position where tax was being paid,” says Arbuckle.

According to Rākete, “this means that the overwhelming majority of people who end up in prison are either unemployed or very low-waged.”

“The soaring prison population in New Zealand is the result of government policy. First, the government keeps wages and benefits low, creating an underclass. Then, it sends the poorest people in this country to prison through discriminatory policing practices and punitive bail, parole, and sentencing laws.”

“Prisons ultimately fail to address crime and social harm. Instead, they lock up the poorest and most vulnerable members of the population, the majority of whom are Māori.”

“The government ignores the severe harm poverty causes, instead choosing to imprison poor people and expose them to further harm.”

“The fact that up 87 percent of prisoners are unemployed before prison demonstrates the true purpose of imprisonment. Prisons exist to protect the privilege of the elite at the expense of the many.”


ENDS

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