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Corrections CEO’s claim ‘absolute nonsense’

Corrections CEO’s claim that offenders on electronic monitoring would otherwise be in prison ‘absolute nonsense’

“In this morning’s online Herald, Corrections CEO Ray Smith is reported as telling a gathering at Rimutaka Prison that if the 2000 people currently on electronic monitoring didn’t have a bracelet on they would be in prison. If that report is correct, then it is absolute nonsense”, says Kim Workman, Strategic Adviser to Rethinking Crime and Punishment.

“I can personally identify a large number of young offenders who are currently on community supervision with electronic monitoring, for whom the judiciary would never have contemplated a prison sentence, in the absence of electronic monitoring. The judiciary know that to do so, would have increased the likelihood that they would reoffend in the future.”

Nor is correct to conclude that if the home detention sentence with electronic monitoring didn’t exist, those people would be in prison. Often people are sentenced to home detention when a lesser sentence would have been more effective and more appropriate.

Mr Smith however, has identified a worrying trend in Corrections thinking i.e. that in the absence of electronic monitoring, prison is the only alternative. In doing so, it ignores community based crime prevention, and programmes such as the Circles of Support and Accountability, which can reduce significantly, the reoffending rate for high risk sex offenders.

Instead, it seems intent on expanding the use of electronic monitoring. The current Electronic Monitoring Bill is targeted toward prisoners after they have served less than two years in prison – and without any evidence for its effectiveness.

There has been a huge amount of research into the effectiveness of electronic monitoring, and the agreed conclusion is that its use as a tool for reducing crime is not supported by existing data. Experts warn that if electronic monitoring is used in the false belief that it does reduce crime and improve public safety, short-sighted governments will continue to waste taxpayer dollars for ideological reasons and political gain. [1]

Governments that choose to use EM in the future are urged to use it to enhance other services that have a known effect on crime reduction.

Mr Smith’s comment is not becoming of a criminal justice professional. He would be well advised to follow Sir Peter Gluckman’s advice; read the evidence based research, stick to the facts, and leave the spin to the media”.


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