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Prison expansion does not help victims

“Prison expansion does not help victims” say prisoner advocates

PRESS RELEASE: People Against Prisons Aotearoa

“Prison expansion does not help victims” says prisoner advocates

Prisoner advocacy organisation, People Against Prisons Aotearoa, hits back at the National Party over its recent statement that plans to cancel the Waikato megaprison disregards victims.

“The National Party is preying off the public’s fear of violent offenders to score political points,” says PAPA spokeswoman Emilie Rākete. “National now shamelessly resorts to telling blatant lies, alleging that 98 percent of prisoners are imprisoned for offenses such as aggravated assault, sexual violence, and murder. This is not true.”

According to Corrections’ data from December 2017, more than 40% of prisoners are incarcerated for non-violent offenses.

“There are people in prison who pose no public danger and could be released immediately,” says Rākete. “Prisons don’t exist to protect the public from violence. Prisons are warehouses for low-income and vulnerable people.”

According to Rākete, the majority of prisoners are victims themselves. 90 percent of prisoners suffer from mental health and addiction problems, up to 87 percent of prisoners are unemployed before being incarcerated, and 68 percent of women in prison are victims of family violence.

“They are further victimised by Corrections, who put a prisoner in solitary confinement every 45 minutes. Prisons are inherently violent places that leave people traumatised and more, not less, likely to hurt others.”

Rākete says that National should not be speaking for all victims of violent offending.

“In cases where the victims share an intimate relationship with the person hurting them, many don’t want to see them locked up. Victims need to have options available to them to keep themselves safe without involving the criminal justice system.”

PAPA says that government’s plans for smaller-scale prison expansion are no solution.

“The government must immediately reduce the prison population and redirect funding to mental health and addiction rehabilitation services and to victim support services. That is what victims need, not more prisons.”


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