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Community safety must be paramount, in and out of prison


Prison officers who are attacked while on the job by inmates are calling for the offenders to serve a longer sentence and this has been applauded by the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

Spokesperson for the trust Jess McVicar said they believe this would be a great move towards long term public safety and the rehabilitation of prisoners “If a prisoner can commit a violent offence while incarcerated, then it is a clear indication they are not ready to be released into the community. Under current legislation if the prisoner commits an offence while behind bars and they are found guilty, the sentence imposed is served concurrently. It is served alongside their original sentence, meaning there is no incentive for the prisoners to behave, and all this teaches them about consequences is who cares, they pretty much got away with it – it’s a freebie!”

This proposed legislation would look to impose a mandatory minimum prison sentence of six months on anyone who deliberately injures a first responder such as a police officer, ambulance staff or a prison officer.

Corrections Association President Alan Whitely is seeking a meeting with Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis to discuss making an amendment to the bill before Parliament but said so far, he has had no response.

Jess says this is not any great surprise “It seems obvious that Kelvin Davis is more in favour of the prisoner’s wellbeing and being released as soon as possible to reduce the prison muster, rather than worrying about the safety of the community and first responders. “This makes good common sense. You commit a violent offence while incarcerated, there will be serious consequences for their actions. This will also mean the offender has a further opportunity to work on their rehabilitation, always remembering not all offenders can be rehabilitated, given the average offender in prison has approximately 46 previous convictions.”

“If prisoners do not have respect for the prison officers who are just doing their job and looking after the offenders, then how can we honestly expect them to have any respect for anyone or anything in the community? The trust would also like to see compulsory rehabilitation programmes introduced into the sentence for the offending prisoner, so when they are released there is a higher chance of the community being safe.”

“Community safety must be paramount both inside and outside of prison, and any prisoner who cannot abide by the law and respect those in the community, or show any interest in being rehabilitated should have to serve their full sentence - not concurrently. If that comment upsets those pushing for more prisoners’ rights, then they should focus on providing improved quality rehabilitation programmes to endeavor to ensure a better opportunity of the prisoners actually turning the corner and seeing there is a better way to live their lives, learning to have respect for both themselves and the community.”

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/prison-officers-seek-longer-sentences-inmates-attack-them

Jess McVicar
Spokesperson
Sensible Sentencing Trust

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