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

 

Rethinking Calls for Rational Approach to Prison Policy


Rethinking Calls for Rational Approach to Prison Policy

“With a declining crime rate, and prison numbers forecast to decrease down to 170 per 100,000 by 2021, government should take the opportunity to review penal policy” says Kim Workman, of Rethinking Crime and Punishment.

“It is truly positive news, and the first forecasted drop in living memory. But let’s keep it in perspective. Five years ago, the rate was 160 per 100,000, and in 1992 it was 119. The projected figure of 170 is still higher than Spain (164), England and Wales (154) and Canada (116).

“High levels of imprisonment are currently justified on the grounds of ‘incapacitation’ - that locking up offenders is a uniquely effective strategy for protecting public safety. The government needs to consider whether this view is based on scientific evidence, or uninformed arrogance.”

“The basis for the policy is that many offences are saved – but no one knows the extent to which that is true. It can depend on factors such as the offender’s risk level, and whether they are at the start or the end of their criminal career – given that the bulk of offending occurs between the ages of 15 and 22.”

“We are asking the wrong questions. A more rational approach would to consider whether more crime is saved through incapacitation versus placing offenders in community-based alternatives, and how the savings might be more effectively invested in crime prevention. Such an approach would ask questions based on what we already know about the effect of imprisonment.”

Recent research tells us that:

• Offenders with comparable offending histories who are imprisoned rather than placed on community based sentences, reoffend more quickly. One major study showed a 14% increase in reoffending by released prisoners, in comparison to those dealt with in the community;

• First-time imprisonment is followed by an increase in criminal activity;

• The criminogenic (crime-causing) effect of prison is especially high for drug offenders, who are 5 to 6 times more likely to reoffend than those placed on probation. Currently, we invest heavily in prison-based drug treatment, while the Ministry of Health shuts down community based drug treatment programmes.

• Low-risk offenders are negatively impacted by prison, and reoffend at a high rate, regardless of the type of treatment offered. Seventy percent of the current prison population will be released within the next seven months; and most of those are low risk.

• For high-risk offenders, the impact of imprisonment varies by whether inmates received appropriate rehabilitation (which reduces recidivism) or inappropriate treatment;

• There is no evidence that prison deters. Harsher conditions are associated with increased recidivism.

An evidence-based approach, based on the available research, would lower the imprisonment rate even further, save taxpayer money, at still maintain public safety.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Where The Politically-donated Bucks Should Be Stopping

By now, it seems crystal clear that something is deeply amiss with the way that New Zealand political parties solicit, receive and report their funding. Evidently, the nominal threshold of $15,000 that requires public disclosure of the donation and its source is…shall we say…vulnerable to manipulation by all and sundry. Moreover, as Otago law professor Andrew Geddis has pointed out, unless political leaders have been stupid enough as to explicitly tell their own staff and/or donors that they’re aware that certain practices break the law but intend to pursue them anyway, then the law has not been broken – not by the political leaders at least... More>>


 

New Zealand Government: Action On Fuel Market Competition

The Government has released a comprehensive response to ensuring New Zealanders get a fairer deal at the petrol pump. This follows the Commerce Commission fuel market ... More>>

ALSO:

Child Poverty: 18,400 Children Lifted Out Of Poverty

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has welcomed new reporting showing the Coalition Government is on track to meet its child poverty targets, with 18,400 children lifted out of poverty as a result of the Families Package... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Our Unreal Optimism About Coronavirus

At this week’s Chinese New Year celebrations, PM Jacinda Ardern was resolutely upbeat that business with China would soon bounce back to normal – better than ever, even - once the coronavirus epidemic has been brought under control. To Ardern, ... More>>

ALSO:



Vaping: Government To Regulate Products

No sales to under-18-year-olds No advertising and sponsorship of vaping products and e-cigarettes No vaping or smokeless tobacco in smokefree areas Regulates vaping product safety comprehensively, - including devices, flavours and ingredients Ensure ... More>>

ALSO:


Gordon Campbell: On The Political Donations Scandals
Even paranoids have real enemies. While there has been something delusionary about the way New Zealand First has been living in denial about its donations scandal, one can sympathise with its indignation about Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges being among its chief accusers. More>>

ALSO:


 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 


 

InfoPages News Channels