The benefits of private prisons

November 14th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:

Humane initiatives in privately-run British prisons such as allowing inmates to spend entire days with their children have caught the eye of Corrections Minister Anne Tolley.

Mrs Tolley visited the Serco-managed Doncaster Prison in England last week to investigate programmes that could be implemented in New Zealand prisons.

Mrs Tolley was most interested in the Doncaster facility’s “Families First” scheme, which encouraged ongoing relationships between prisoners and their children.

“While we were there, there was a father who was bathing his 18-month-old daughter. She comes in once a week, and the two of them go through a normal parenting day. He has a day with his little one and he has done since she was born,” Mrs Tolley said.

“It’s to try and maintain those links, so they don’t miss the development of that child, so the child gets the benefit of a dad.”

This scheme was limited to 11 well-behaved fathers in the minimum-security jail.

So long as well targeted, seems a good idea.

To encourage new ideas the minister proposed exchanges in staff between Doncaster and Mt Eden. Many of the initiatives in Serco prisons were based on recommendations from frontline staff members.

Mrs Tolley said privately-run jails had the advantage of being able to trial new programmes without jumping through bureaucratic hoops.

A big advantage. Flexibility and innovation.

“I said to [staff], ‘So what’s your record of violence?’ And they looked at me as if I was nuts.”

Serco has introduced some of its initiatives at Mt Eden. It increased the number of visiting hours for inmates and attempted to make the visiting area as home-like as possible to facilitate family bonding and encourage rehabilitation.

Prison reform campaigner Roger Brooking said he had been concerned about Serco’s contracts in New Zealand because of their mixed record in the UK. But he was impressed by the culture change at Mt Eden prison, in particular the use of first names between staff and inmates.

The culture in our public prison service is not a very good one, if we are honest. In the past there has been torture, intimidation, theft, drugs and the like. Not to say all prison guards – by no means. But ask any insider, and they will admit the public prison service is not a healthy culture.

The private prison operators have an opportunity to set a different culture, which can actually improve outcomes. I despair that Labour and Greens are determined on ideological grounds to ban such initiatives regardless of how well they perform.

The Doncaster prison was the first British jail to be paid according to its results – it only received full payment if it reduced reoffending by 5 per cent.

This was similar to the proposed contract for the Wiri prison, Mrs Tolley said.

“If they don’t beat the results from the public sector by 10 per cent, there are financial penalties.”

Serco has had a patchy start in charge of Mt Eden prison but has improved its record on serious assaults and drug use in its second year.

Incentives tend to work.

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88 Responses to “The benefits of private prisons”

  1. dime (9,799 comments) says:

    Patchy start? a bit harsh. Compared well to govt run prisons when i read the reports.

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  2. Graeme Edgeler (3,280 comments) says:

    Mrs Tolley said privately-run jails had the advantage of being able to trial new programmes without jumping through bureaucratic hoops.

    A big advantage. Flexibility and innovation.

    So the minister knows that most prisons face such bureaucratic hoops, and that prisoners and the community are suffering because of this and isn’t doing anything to fix it?

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  3. RRM (9,770 comments) says:

    I’ve got some ideas for a few Humane initiatives in prisons.

    :arrow: After a year of only good behaviour reports, you get to apply for a lid for your shit bucket.

    :arrow: After two years of only good behaviour reports, you get to apply to have your shit bucket taken away and emptied daily rather than every second day.

    :arrow: After three years of only good behaviour reports, you get the opportunity to leave the building on chain gangs carrying rocks / manually excavating Transmission Gully / etc.

    :arrow: After four years of good behaviour reports, the guards will be allowed to address you by your first name instead of just “Criminal”…

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  4. speters (108 comments) says:

    Graeme beat me to it – if bureucratic hoops are the problem then isn’t Minister Tolley ideally placed to change that?

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  5. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    So the minister knows that most prisons face such bureaucratic hoops, and that prisoners and the community are suffering because of this and isn’t doing anything to fix it?

    Graeme, many would say that such bureaucratic hoops are endemic across government agencies. Investigating what can be learned from privately-run prison is doing something to fix it.

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  6. lyndon (330 comments) says:

    Patchy start. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1207/S00059/performance-of-mt-eden-corrections-facility.htm Unfortunately the table doesn’t seem to be at that link any more or somethings. But they met half their general targets (IIRC many of those are benchmarked to the average state prison rather than new or equivalent facilities) and didn’t do that well against their major ones. This might be shaping up as cut-price for the taxpayer (I don’t know, the minister doesn’t seem very worried about it) but it doesn’t sound like a model of doing the job you’re contracted for.

    I’m think there’s culture change and innovation every time there’s a new facility.

    Oddly we only got to see the contract she refers to in October http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1210/S00343/private-prison-deal-details-revealed-finally.htm

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  7. liarbors a joke (1,069 comments) says:

    ” allowing inmates to spend entire days with their children ”

    aw how nice. Why even bother sentencing them to prison? Scrap the justice system. Close the prisons. Send them all home.

    FFS.

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  8. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    RRM: You are showing definite promise. Garth’s e-mail address is garth@sst.org.nz

    There are a few problems with this sort of scheme. The main one is we are effectively experimenting with children – no-one knows what effects being taken to visit daddy (usually its daddy) in prison will have on young children This kind of psychological experiment would be unethical in any other context. Second, it is normalising prison as a place to be: “Daddy goes away now and again, and he stays in this big house and I get to visit him and all the guards are really nice to me…” Thirdly, these kind of experiments – particularly prisoners and guards on first name terms etc. – have been tried before and been dismal failures. Anyone interested can google He Ara Hou – the brainchild of our very own Kim Workman – and read what can happen when you try and pretend that prison is not a place of punishment where you go because you have been (very) naughty.

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  9. speters (108 comments) says:

    David – I think you’re well off target characterising this as an unethical “psychological experiment” on the child. Is the state forcing the child’s caregiver to take the child to visit its father/mother in prison?

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  10. Rick Rowling (825 comments) says:

    The post that (nearly) everyone will disagree with.

    The looney left will be all “gaaaah, evil corporations! Only the state should be involved in this public service!”

    The rabid right will be all “gaaaah, evil crims getting soft treatment! Flog them I say, flog them!”

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  11. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    speters: Irrelevant. It is providing the environment for – and encouraging – an experiment with unknown consequences for children. Perhaps an extreme example, but how would it be if the government allowed children to go to school at a new version of Centrepoint? You know, a nice commune like place where everyone loved everyone, and all the children had multiple daddies and mummies.

    Rick Rowling: Nice try, but this hard rightie is not saying “flog them” either. But prisons are, and ought to be, a place you are sent to as – and even perhaps for – punishment. I doubt many non lawyers on here have any real idea just how difficult it is to get sent to jail in NZ. I think the average is nine convictions before any offender actually gets sent to prison.

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  12. dime (9,799 comments) says:

    RRM – haha you’re a closet right winger i tells ya!

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  13. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Changing who operates prisons is simply tinkering at the edges. Innovation? I doubt it.

    I’ve long advocated that we need a two tier prison system. One system would be focused on ‘tough love’ style rehabilitation. Plenty of education opportunities, resources and support.. with the intention being to ‘convert’ the offender from being a public menace to a constructive member of society. Different styles of facility could be implemented – Maori focus, Christian focus, secular/trade/education focus etc. Participants in this system should be left with no doubts that they are living in the Hilton by comparison with the second system.

    The second system would be designed to keep the public safe from serious, serial offenders who have abused their societal privileges. The second system would take the very worst of first-time offenders, plus those who have experienced the first system and once again restored to illegal behaviours. This system would demand basic labour of inmates to earn their keep. This should be ‘hard time’ and the conditions should be subsistence only.

    I’d have all candidates for the rehabilitative system given a couple of ‘starter’ weeks in the recidivist system… just so they know what awaits them if they don’t reform

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  14. lastmanstanding (1,278 comments) says:

    RRM You are far too soft. Id double the times in your example and make them go back to square one if they didnt behave.

    It always amuses me how a sentence of say 6 years means in reality 2 years inside. If I misrepresented the products or service I sell like that the Commerce Commission would fine me tens if not hundreds of thousands yet we blindly accept these filthy lies in sentencing.
    And dont get me started on the moron Judges who give bail to murders…………………………………………………………

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  15. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Krazy: You have just – pretty much – described the system we have now. Only there are about four tiers, not two. Types of incarceration range from farms in the middle of the North Island that are bascially old style motorcamps with a bit of a fence around the outside, to “C” Block at Pare.

    Lastman: You are quite right. Until three strikes, the only sentence which meant what it said in this country was a minimum non parole period for murder. Any other sentence was double-speak

    I am corresponding at the minute with a female offender I met at Arohata when I was an MP. She was doing time for agg robbery committed to fund her P habit. She had left school at 14, and got involved with gangs. She got clean inside, and studied for and passed NCEA level 2. She has now been out for almost two years, remains clean, and is in training which I won’t specify to protect her identity, and also has a part time job.

    There have always been opportunties for rehabilitation education and training in prison for those who want it. There could certainly be more, but then prison is, as they say, voluntary.

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  16. Nostalgia-NZ (5,093 comments) says:

    ‘Graeme Edgeler (2,604) Says:
    November 14th, 2012 at 3:07 pm
    Mrs Tolley said privately-run jails had the advantage of being able to trial new programmes without jumping through bureaucratic hoops.

    A big advantage. Flexibility and innovation.

    So the minister knows that most prisons face such bureaucratic hoops, and that prisoners and the community are suffering because of this and isn’t doing anything to fix it?’

    She’s been coming out with some beauts, in response to fraud against the Courts by police: ‘Police can’t have their hands tied behind their backs.’
    On effectively giving ex prisoners a new sentence of life long surveillance: ‘They like the structure and we can find them homes and jobs’ in words to that effect.
    And now blaming the bureaucracy of which she is part for lack of innovation.

    She’s got a difficult job ahead of her to create the projected lower offending rates but at the moment it’s like she’s speaking from two different perspectives in much of what she says. I guess it’s recognition of balancing the books. I’m not sure if now as Minister she appreciates the ‘good work’ of cranking up longer sentences because by her own words she wants re-offending to continue to fall. The late Harry Cohen told me that National, at least until the 70s and 80s, had been responsible for most of the constructive prison reforms but for some reason right voters always associate reform with the left. I’m not sure if it was Muldoon that gave prisoners the vote or took it away but with his pithy background he understood men of all types of men fairly well and had a sense of fairness not often appreciated.

    DPF seems intent on attacking the Prison Service. Torture? Makes me wonder if ‘private prisons’ weren’t on the agenda if he’d still do that.

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  17. Rex Widerstrom (5,345 comments) says:

    Oh David Garrett, where to begin…

    we are effectively experimenting with children – no-one knows what effects being taken to visit daddy (usually its daddy) in prison will have on young children

    Yes we do, many times over, and the studies disagree with you.

    The data shows that visits are beneficial to partners and children, as well as the prisoners themselves – and I don’t mean beneficial as in “makes their time easier”, but as in “reduces their likelihood of reoffending”. There’s is a wealth of research that shows the main thing that brings an end to most criminal careers is age – which in this context means coming to value family, possessions, a job and community respect over the dubious rewards of criminality.

    And that conversely, making it impossible for ex-cons to find work or accommodation, or breaking up their family units through prolonged separation, increases the likelihood of reoffending.

    Having a parent in prison, whether the child gets to visit them or not, is also shown in studies (refer the second link above) to predispose the child to:
    – be imprisoned themselves
    – have changes in their living arrangements, including living apart from their families
    – develop a negative perception of the justice system.

    Not being allowed to visit if the child wants to is also shown to build up feelings of resentment against the justice system, leading to a disrespect for the law and a predisposition to offending behaviour.

    But by putting in place prison-based support services which interact with both families and prisoners and continue to support a prisoner once released (known as “throughcare” in the jargon) intervention can be achieved to reduce this, as well as increasing the possibility that the family unit will remain intact during the sentence. If you isolate prisoners’ families in the community you actually lose a chance to help the children you claim to be concerned about.

    And if you’re so concerned about the welfare of the children of criminals what would you have us do about this statistic?:

    Previous U.S. research indicates that around 50% of children are present at the arrest of their parent, and that this experience leads to considerable trauma (Kampfner, 1995)

    Anecdotal information leads me to believe the figure in NZ is at least as high. Will I see the SST campaigning any time soon for the introduction of a Police policy which says arrests must be made with children present only as an absolute last resort? You go on to say

    these kind of experiments – particularly prisoners and guards on first name terms etc. – have been tried before and been dismal failures.

    And they have also been oustanding successes, as with Serco’s West Australian prison, which is run on exactly those lines, and of which the WA Inspector of Custodial Services said:

    Acacia Prison is providing value for money: in terms of service standards, it is without doubt one of the best performing prisons in Western Australia, if not the best and it is also providing a financial saving to the State.

    Incidentally, supporting exactly the thrust of DPF’s post, the Inspector also said:

    …the key finding of this inspection is that at Acacia, corporate profits and savings to the state/taxpayer are not being achieved at the cost of service delivery

    So really, Labour and the Greens need to get off their ideological hobby horse and start looking at ways to help Serco achieve the same kind of results in NZ – and that, again as DPF correctly concludes, is by setting proper targets and incentive payments.

    …when you try and pretend that prison is not a place of punishment where you go because you have been (very) naughty.

    You’re being disingenuous David, unless you define “very naughty” as including the dozens of non-violent and sometimes victimless crimes (such as possession of drugs for personal use) for which people are routinely imprisoned. I can understand lay people reading about the “headline criminals” and assuming our prisons are filled almost exclusively with violent, low life, women-and-child-bashing scum. But you and I both know they’re not.

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  18. Graeme Edgeler (3,280 comments) says:

    Until three strikes, the only sentence which meant what it said in this country was a minimum non parole period for murder.

    The minimum non-parole periods for offences other than murder meant what they said as well.

    In the US, someone will be sentenced to 2 to 6 years. In New Zealand, someone will be sentenced to 6 years with a minimum non-parole period of 2 years. It’s the same sentence, and it’s just as honest, although one is slightly easier for the lay person to understand. I’d make the change, and describe the non-parole period as the sentence, but “6 years with eligibility for parole at one-third” means exactly what it says on the box.

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  19. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    If I were the Minister of Corrections, I should jolly well hope that I too would find visiting prisons in Yorkshire much more stimulating than going to Northland or Milton to look at our own boring facilities. Travel can be such a broadening experience, don’t ya think? Maybe Serco could send me a brochure.

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  20. Nostalgia-NZ (5,093 comments) says:

    They’ll fit you in somewhere mike.

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  21. nasska (11,112 comments) says:

    5478 left wing comments on a centre right blog……should be good for life without parole & your own personally monogrammed slops bucket. :)

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  22. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    This is the best blog in NZ. DPF said so; so there.
    We could move to GD and suggest the most ludicrous overseas trips by any politician – nominations?
    I’ve been to jail – but only looking and definitely would not want to stay there. But then they do say that only honest folk are scared of prisons.

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  23. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Rex: For the record, despite the insults you dished out when I first began commenting here, I respect your views. You are clearly a very well informed man. No sarcasm intended.

    I have to admit this issue is not something I feel particularly strongly about. But – to quote you – “you and I both know” that these sort of proposals are not quite as cuddly as they seem. I dont know you personally, but I assume you would not have your wife/gf bring drugs into the prison hidden in your babies nappy, or secreted …elsewhere. “You and I both know” that that happens – all the time.

    And I am surprised to see such a well informed commenter trotting out the old chestnut about people being locked up in this country for “possession of drugs for personal use.” You and I both know that unless the drug is P, coke or Heroin, AND the amount you have for “personal use” exceeds the statutory minimums above which there is a presumption that you have it for supply, you are not going to jail in this country.

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  24. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Well, drug (or alcohol) reform is a whole other thread or several hundred threads.
    It is very hard to get to prison; we give many, many chances and I assume that is mainly because most judges know that prison is a particularly bad place to sort out young people.

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  25. Rex Widerstrom (5,345 comments) says:

    David Garrett:

    I am truly sorry (no sarcasm intended here either) if you felt my strong opposition to your views crossed the border into insult. I studiously try to avoid that in debate, unless repeatedly and egregiously provoked by someone of little intelligence, and you’re certainly not that.

    I’ve always respected your willingness to genuinely engage and to obviously read and respond on point to opposing views, not just skim over them and use them as an excuse to repeat yourself as many do (and I said so recently on Brian Edwards’ blog, if you care to check his exchange with you there).

    As a regular visitor I’m well aware of the things smuggled into prisons and where they’re smuggled, because I’m often kept waiting while the idiot who’s tried it is subjected to ever more thorough searches until they’re finally led away. If anything the sniffer dogs are too effective… I used to visit the public waiting building to chat with the support staff there but quickly learned enough second hand smoke could transfer from the clothing of a previous visitor, to the fabric of the chair, to my clothes to have the dog “sit on me” (as it’s curiously called, though “next to” me is more accurate).

    Talk to prisoners and a regular moan is that virtually nothing gets in these days, with canine and electronic “sniffers”, biometric ID and the like. The days when I used to visit Mount Eden, write “Mickey Mouse” next to the names of Huey, Dewy and Louie who’d preceded me, and enter the visiting area with little more than a cursory glance from a bored guard have long gone. I never took advantage of that, though I quickly found why pills were favoured over capsules – they could more easily be popped through the holes drilled in the perspex between visitors and crims!

    Nowadays what does get in is more than likely to have been carried in by the occasional corrupt guard, or sometimes in lower-security prisons, simply hurled over a wall.

    But the occasional incidence (there were 550 seizures of contraband in WA prisons in the 2011 financial year. That includes not only drugs but also weapons, pornography and mobile phones, out many thousands of visits) is no excuse for stopping the families who play by the rules from seeing the family member that’s incarcerated. I note you haven’t rebutted any of the study data that shows the positive outcomes of permitting supervised contact between prisoners and their children.

    And yes, we both know that the drug has to be a serious one and the amount over a set minimum to result in a jail term. But for a heavy user those limits are actually relatively low, since their tolerance builds over time. I’m presently working on two cases of women who were absolutely not dealing – and indeed the prosecution admitted so during their repsctive trials, and in both cases the Magistrate said words to the effect of “I don’t want to, it’s not the best answer for you or for your family, but the law says I must send you to jail” (which is why I oppose mimimum sentences, but that’s another debate…) Similarly fraudsters, fine defaulters and a myriad other non-violent offenders who don’t deserve to be locked up with the truly dangerous.

    In the meantime, if you have studies which back up your assertion that allowing children to visit their incarcerated parent (or brother, sister, uncle, aunt…) has more of a negative effect than a positive one, I’d be interested to see them. But please don’t confuse the negative effects of having a parent locked up (of which there are obviously many) with visiting them when they are.

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  26. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Next someone will be saying don’t visit your own child if he or she should be sent to prison.

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  27. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Rex: thank you for that thoughtful reply. (Again, no sarcasm intended). No, I am sure you have far more evidence than I do of positive/negative effects on kids as a result of regular visits to Dad in prison. As I said, this is not an issue that really gets me stirred up – the killing of little brown children has a much greater effect on my equilibrium than this.

    So since I have slipped onto that, if you are familiar with the case of the piece of shit convicted of the murder of a two year old boy today (Google JJ Lawrence if you are not) – the little chap was booted in the abdomen with enough force to split his liver – I am interested in what you think would be a suitable sentence. Let’s assume (because I dont know) that the prick has some form for violence, but nothing too serious. As you are probably aware, LWOP is now available to the sentencing Judge.

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  28. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    I think life without parole would be no more than he deserves, but is unlikely to be the sentence and life imprisonment can already be for life, effectively.

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  29. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Mikey: Life is almost never “whole of life”…the difference is that the law now specifically allows the Judge who sentences this mongrel to give him LWOP. I am constrained in what I can say because little weasels will be watching this blog and potentially reporting me to the teacher. But the rest of you – even those using your real names – can say what you like.

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  30. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    It’s insane ideologically driven bullshit. Yes humane initiatives in minimum security prisons or in,the community after the first crime. No to all these initiatives in mt Eden or paremoremo, where they are in becuase its,their 100th crime or they are too violent, antisocial and psycho to be out in the public. those crims should not be parents. Wtf is she thinking?

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  31. Reid (16,189 comments) says:

    I’m not sure I’d give him LWOP although it’s justified in this case. The reason is in the context of his age, immaturity and poor education, he had no idea of the gravity and extent of the great evil he was committing. There are many other Loffley’s out there, he’s not unique in his attitudes and behaviour.

    Personally I’d give him 25 years without parole, because of the complete depravity and cruelty he displayed, but after 25 years, he’ll never be able to do it again.

    I’m also in favour of this initiative. I mean why not? Anything that brings out peace, love and empathy in prisoners, is a good thing.

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  32. Nostalgia-NZ (5,093 comments) says:

    I think that the sentencing Judge will be the most capable of determining the sentence, don’t you DG?

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  33. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Reid: How do you figure he won’t do it again after 25 years? While it is true that most offenders stop committing crimes after about age 40, a good number don’t. this piece of vermin has deprived that little boy of 70 or 80 years of the joys -and pain – all of us experience in our lives. He treated him like a fly that was buzzing around his food – without any thought or compassion…

    But I had better shut up, lest I be accused of influencing the sentencing Judge…

    Nostalgia: Go and abuse yourself…I am not quite that stupid

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  34. Rex Widerstrom (5,345 comments) says:

    David: Cases like JJ Lawrence are the reason I have the utmost respect for judges who operate at that level, where life and life-altering sentences of many decades are available and where the very essence of what makes them human must place them under intolerable pressure to throw away the key, but precedent, the offender’s antecedents and a myriad of other factors mean they must mitigate that response. I’d go home at the end of the day with blood pressure even higher than I have now, and an acid bile in my belly that’d torture me ceaselessly.

    Like, I imagine, you and most other people I’d like to throw him to the wolves, or in this case the community, for a long and drawn-out taste of the treatment he inflicted on that child – though I suspect he wouldn’t last nearly long enough given the understandable feeling of anger his actions have engendered.

    But the higher functioning parts of my mind know that their lies a slippery slope, for while most people would probably be happy to reserve that for only the most vile of offenders there are a sizeable number who’d fall upon a shoplifter or benefit cheat with the same ferociousness and down that path lies a descent into anarchy.

    I do believe that someone who can do that to a child, not even once in an uncontrollable rage (which is damning enough of his character) but consistently over time, is irredeemable. That while improvements in behaviour and outlook might – eventually, and after a long, long while – justify a move to a lower security facility and a higher level of privilege, he should never walk amongst us as a free man again. And some small part of me – a part of which I am ashamed – hopes that he finds, in prison, exactly what it is like to be terrified of someone much bigger and powerful than yourself, to have nowhere to hide, and no one to turn to for protection.

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  35. nasska (11,112 comments) says:

    David G probably can’t answer this for fear of some petty arsehole shopping him but can anyone remember a case where the defendant receive LWOP. It strikes me that if it hasn’t been used up until now it is going to take a mass murder & rape before the penalty is triggered.

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  36. Northland Wahine (660 comments) says:

    He’ll be 47? Harden by prision for 25 years.

    I say save the tax payers some money…

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  37. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    We’re talking hardened crims here. They’ll just use the kids as a way of getting drugs in and out, running their criminal activities, getting threatening letters out, you name it. It’s all been tried before and failed , it’s nothing new!

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  38. Rex Widerstrom (5,345 comments) says:

    Kevin:

    It’s all been tried before and failed

    Did you even read DPF’s post? It’s been tried in Doncaster, with exceptionally positive results including – and most importantly – reducing reoffending which is why Anne Tolley wants to try it here. It’s been tried, to a lesser extent, in Western Australia at Acacia Prison by the same company, Serco, where it has saved the taxpayers’ money and produced positive results across a range of measures (including again reduced reoffending). See the quotes in my post above.

    But don’t take my word for it, the report on Acacia is here and I’m sure the Minister’s office would be happy to provide you with more information on the success of the Doncaster model, so you can make an informed judgement.

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  39. Reid (16,189 comments) says:

    How do you figure he won’t do it again after 25 years?

    I don’t think he’d ever do it again even if he got 25 days David. This is because his crime was done in the context of a self-centred boiling ignorant rage. People like him are a dime a dozen in South Auckland as you know. They think they’re hard men. And because they’re poorly educated and young they don’t think about things very deeply if at all. But this whole process has woken him up and he’d never do it again.

    You said he booted JJ I had the impression it had been a massive punch, but at the end of the day he didn’t even think of JJ as a child. A baby. Someone who needed protection. None of this occurred to him, and doesn’t occur to many other young men in thousands of similar NZ households, right now. I wonder if they started doing compulsory drug tests on toddlers, what we’d find in many babies from some suburbs. That’s possibly a good way to start identifying these households.

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  40. Longknives (4,686 comments) says:

    Kevin is right- But these proposals are most likely put forward by ‘Chardonnay Socialists’ who have never met a criminal in real life…. only seen them on TV being fixed up by corrupt cops on Sons of Anarchy (and they all seem like such cool guys!)
    If ‘Joe Average’ New Zealander saw the feral scum barking at each other in Mt Eden they would think again before giving them a cuddle and unlimited taxpayer-funded priveleges….

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  41. Nostalgia-NZ (5,093 comments) says:

    Reid 8.27

    Good post, except for the flip flop at the end.

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  42. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Reid: Sorry, I am not being obtuse, but I just don’t follow you…even if you are right (and you probably are) that this is a poorly educated brute with no insight into his own behaviour, what on earth makes you think he is going to be any different at age 45?

    Sadly in this I think the Catholics are right…”Give me a child until he is seven…” and all that…

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  43. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Lack of education is no excuse. This guy will be a “blameless babe” with a list of priors a mile long, a real product of the cradle to the jail welfare system. He wouldl kill or maim again at the drop of a hat. And reid you want someone like this out in society with us?

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  44. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Rex – have you ever dealt with criminals? I hear what you are saying but criminals have a completely different moral code:
    “And some small part of me – a part of which I am ashamed – hopes that he finds, in prison, exactly what it is like to be terrified of someone much bigger and powerful than yourself, to have nowhere to hide, and no one to turn to for protection.”

    To me, this statement shows you have no understanding of the mind of a criminal. If you did, you would feel no shame in wishing killers and arse-holes a cuddly warm cell mate.
    I could tell you stories that would make your hair curl. I’ve been in prisons as a visitor and dealt with criminals in business and in my family. .
    For the most part, the rehabilitation of a criminal is a myth.
    As a rule, they are sizing you up: What’s in it for me?
    There is sometimes respect but never affection. No affection, in the case of a pimp for the pro’s.
    No affection in the case of s father for the daughters.

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  45. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Rex: That’s a very thoughtful response…and not just because it largely agrees with me.

    Wahine: He won’t get anything like 25 years non-parole my friend…perhaps 15 or 18…Graeme E or FES will have a better idea…

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  46. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Yes. Rex these studies are just homespun bullshit by namby academics or government sycophants.

    Sure as I said try rehab in the minimum security prisons be doing it in Mt Eden or Poremoremo is just bullshite.

    This soft cock attitude to crims is the reason we’re in this mess in the first place with some of the highest crime rates in the OECD.

    Lock em up for an extra 20 years – no that will really reduce reoffending.

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  47. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Monique: Bad idea! Rex has actually served at least one prison sentence, and he is a pretty well informed guy..

    That said, I agree with the last part of your post….and that is the big mistake that the chardonnay socialists and the christians make…they assume that everyone is basically the same….I think they say something like “the mythical other” doesn’t exist…meaning we are all capable of splitting a child’s liver…

    There have been some interesting experiments on this, most notably those of Stanley Milgram in the 1950’s….cutting a long story short, he concluded – with good evidence – that most people would act as brutes in the right circumstances…but for myself, if I ever did what this piece of shit did to a child I hope I would have the courage to top myself before a trial was necessary….

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  48. Rex Widerstrom (5,345 comments) says:

    Monique Watson:

    Yes, all too starkly, though I’m not going to go into much of it here. Suffice to say that for the past eight years I have visited prisons multiple times most weeks, and met prisoners who I consider good people who’ve done a bad thing and a handful who are undoubtedly bad people who’ve done terrible things.

    The majority have the trifecta of youth, poor education (and thus job prospects, and thus poverty) and substance abuse and age, a decent chance in life (sentence reduction based on test scores would be one way I’d incentivise them to drop the ‘hard man / woman’ act and pick up a book) and rigorous drug testing coupled to compulsory rehab will eventually see most of them come right.

    When I speak of criminals I’m generally not speaking of “killers and arseholes” because the majority of people in prison aren’t the former and whether they are the latter is totally subjective. I’m talking of the bulk of inmates whose crimes make you shake your head and ask “WTF were you thinking?!” rather than spit in their eye and ask “WTF kind of person are you?”.

    But the fools and the greedy and the addicts and the mentally ill and the homeless and the others who’ve never physically harmed another but who populate our jails never make the newspapers. People are therefore free to assume our jails are like something they’ve seen in a bad gang movie out of Hollywood, packed wall-to-wall with hardened killers, and they demand a penal policy that fits their fantasy. And too many politicians are only too happy to give it to them.

    For that small percentage who are killers and who deserve to be labelled an arsehole – and the individual David Garrett has injected into the debate certainly fits that description – I have a different view.

    edit:

    Errr, David!! I have not “served at least one prison sentence! I have not a single conviction against my name. I spent some time in jail on remand on na charge that was later proved to have been fabricated after the complainant confessed to having made the whole thing up. With friends like you… lol

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  49. Northland Wahine (660 comments) says:

    David… Perhaps being the operative word.

    I believe there is some merit in the “Family first” scheme in low end offending… Not so with extreme violent offenders. No doubt there will always be exceptions to the rule.

    Having visited different whanau in prison, with and without children, small baby and a teen… I don’t believe it added any value to the kids lives. May have made the fathers visit but as a visitor seeing kids being treated as potential drug carriers? Not a experience i care to repeat.

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  50. Ryan Sproull (7,093 comments) says:

    That said, I agree with the last part of your post….and that is the big mistake that the chardonnay socialists and the christians make…they assume that everyone is basically the same….I think they say something like “the mythical other” doesn’t exist…meaning we are all capable of splitting a child’s liver…

    There have been some interesting experiments on this, most notably those of Stanley Milgram in the 1950′s….cutting a long story short, he concluded – with good evidence – that most people would act as brutes in the right circumstances…but for myself, if I ever did what this piece of shit did to a child I hope I would have the courage to top myself before a trial was necessary….

    So surely the rational thing to do is prevent those circumstances from arising. The circumstances which create a brute, and the circumstances which give rise to brutish actions.

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  51. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    The communist/socialist line is “we are none of us innocent”. therefore when a blameless babe gets punished we should all be punished. Its prioven bullshit and decades out of date because our society has gone down the namby line and we produce more sphycos than ever.

    David, Milgrams experiments were, as always, ideologically driven to come up with the answer he wanted. eg if I administered lead therapy or some blue juice to one of these blameless babes I would be commiting an acto of compassion for society, not an act of brutality.

    Also David, the last blameless babe who did this to a kid got 6 years 9 months, and there was better forensics in that case I think.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/118679/lawyer-flags-appeal-by-child-killer

    And the cunts appealing it. Victims of these crimes should not be allowed to forgive. Our justice system was designed to protect the weak.

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  52. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Rex: My apologies…I thought you had actually spent some time as a sentenced prisoner…good post…

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  53. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Kevin
    You might find that is a Christian, or even earlier, line: “let he who is without sin” etc.

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  54. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Then no one woulld do a public service. I’m offereing mine, warts and all :)

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  55. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Ah Ryan! Do tell us your prescription for preventing “these circumstances arising ” (fuck me, that’s about the biggest euphemism for kicking a child to death I have ever heard) ….I somehow feel your recommendations and insights may be rather different from mine…

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  56. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Mikey: Indeed none of us is without sin…as I am testament to…but please do confirm that you think that YOU are capable of what Loffley did? I say with absolute certainty that I am not…

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  57. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    OMG the prison fellowship was mentioned on close up about this issue. they’re just an assembly line for letting people out of prison if they say they’ve found god. And badgering victims inot forgiveness in restorative justice meetings.

    Of course Tolley likes all this because she gets her ego flagellated by all the welathy elitists supporting this bullshit behind the scences.

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  58. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    “So surely the rational thing to do is prevent those circumstances from arising. The circumstances which create a brute, and the circumstances which give rise to brutish actions.”

    That is why we need 3 strikes and your out for the FIRST 3 crimes! NOT the last 3 after 90 excuses.

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  59. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    There is, quite rightly, an urge for vengeance to be exacted in these cases. We restrain all kinds or harmful urges by appointing people such as judges to make decisions on behalf of us all.
    Unrestrained punishment, even widespread use of the death penalty, will do very little to prevent this sort of nauseating viciousness towards the helpless.
    Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime is an oft-repeated cliché. What evidence is there that our judicial policies have made, or are making, any contribution to reducing this sort of crime?

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  60. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    DG
    I was certainly more fortunate than Loffley in my choice of parents. More than that, I’d be reluctant to speculate.

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  61. Rex Widerstrom (5,345 comments) says:

    David:

    …he concluded – with good evidence – that most people would act as brutes in the right circumstances

    I don’t think Milgram’s experiments are relevant here. His most famous experiment – where participants administered what they thought were painful and even fatal electric shocks to test subjects – was titled Obedience to Authority. It was an attempt, in part, to see if the Nuremburg defence had any psychological validity.

    There’s a world of difference between being told by someone you believe has authority over you to do something distasteful to an adult in an experimental setting where you’d at least assume medical assistance was available (or, at worst, that you could escape culpability by saying “I was only following orders”), and casually torturing a helpless child in your own lounge.

    You see I think you’ve done yourself a disservice – I don’t think Milgram proved you (or I, for that matter) would do that to a child, no matter what the circumstances.

    And remember that was the 50s. Even though we’re both long in the tooth we’re not old enough to have really been influenced by the social mores that prevailed at that time. I would imagine you’re slightly less inclined to disobedience to authority than am I, but even if ordered to I think we’d both end up conscientious objectors.

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  62. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    I would never offer my services for vengeance. Saving the planets resources would be my primary aim because I’m a herd out greeny, and the secondary aim would be public protection.

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  63. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Rex: Yes, I certainly like to think I would be one of Milgram’s 5% who said ” I am not going to do that, no matter what the man in the white coat says”…

    Jesus, I had better get out of this debate before Mickey Savage or some other weasel has enough evidence to file yet another complaint about me…

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  64. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    By far the best film from the 50s/early 60s about the prevailaing attitude is called “The Trial” starring Genn Ford. You will recognise the memes as very relevant today, although it failed to predict how badly the right would buy into them. It absolutely blows away “Twelve Angry Men” and “West Side Story” with its infamous “I’m depraved on acounta I’m deproved” meme.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_(1955_film)

    Worth a watch.

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  65. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    What’s a “meme” again? I am just a country boy from Gisborne…

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  66. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    A meme is “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.”

    Can be true or false but the idea is that its “common knowledge” and therefore often wrong or a gross oversimplification.

    Its use has suffered a resergence in the climate debate with both sides having their “memes”, to the extent that our Royal society even published a list of memes used by climiate change deniers trying to ridicule them in a very unscientific manner.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

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  67. unpcnzcougar (52 comments) says:

    This may be a red flag to a bull to some of you out there. I would advocate for a system such as in Singapore where petty crimes are punished quite severely, and thus nipping them in the bud like that means they are not likely to go on and reoffend.

    Grafitti, I think is one lash, littering is a fine – you get the message.

    I also favour the social engineering they have had to do to get educated parents to have children as they realised they weren’t because they couldn’t afford it. So they pay these parents to have kids to make sure they produce more educated children. Quite the reverse of what we do here. Can you imagine what the Left would sayto that.

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  68. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Ok…so its what an old curmudgeon like me would call a ‘belief system’ or ‘world view’ ??

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  69. Rex Widerstrom (5,345 comments) says:

    @David:

    In this context, substitute the word “themes”, because a theme as reflected in a film or book isn’t a meme unless it makes the jump to current pop culture.

    A meme is more like something that spreads throughout a culture or subculture till everyone knows what it means / references / says it. Like playground sayings when we were growing up, but now spead via the internets. Not really a belief system.

    @unpcnzcougar

    As someone who’s generally portrayed as being, in that delightful turn of phrase, a “softcock” on criminal justice issues it might surprise you to know I agree with you. Not to the extent of approving of lashes, but the principle of sharp, harsh punishments for minor crimes. Google “Broken Windows theory” for more, as I grow too tired to maintain coherence for much longer…

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  70. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Perhaps more of a common theme or catchphrase recognised across a range of modern media. Like ‘tl;dr’, ‘cool story bro’ or ‘nek minnit’. ‘Thick as bat-shit’ could become a meme, too.

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  71. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Even Pink Floyd knew that if ‘you give ‘em a short, sharp shock; they don’t do it again, do they?’

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  72. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    @DG &RW. I walked right into that one.
    If you served a prison sentence, RW, then you certainly know more than I.
    Me, I volunteered in a prison programme periodically in my early 20’s. This after a period of bad behaviour and loose morality :)
    My service was instructive in that, I saw that most of those who were incarcerated had no real desire to change.
    No remorse, no guilt, just an insiders vs outsiders mentality.
    Following this I semed periodically to come into contact with the sifters from the underworld.
    I could tell some stories. One of my criminal tenants once dealt in retired Soviet MIGS.
    A meme is a unit of a culture, the most persuasive of which become generally accepted across generation. this arises from the sophistication of human interactions both physical and language based.

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  73. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Across generations I mean.

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  74. Harriet (4,771 comments) says:

    Prisons were never designed as a last resort, it was only liberal judges who made that so. If prisons change, then so to SHOULD Judges!

    If Tolley goes down the road of making prisons ‘worthwhile’ as she seems to be doing, then there is no reason why they can’t be used as a first, second or third resort INSTEAD of a last resort.

    Prisons wouldn’t then be so bad on individuals as under the right emprisonment conditions it is far better to jail someone at the start of a ‘likely and probable’ crimminal career than after more serious crimes[low security has a better chance at 'reforming' than maximum security].

    However, be warned, using them as a first resort means you may end up with Australians! :cool:

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  75. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Ha ha @ RW @ 9pm. Had you pegged as jailbait until I read your former post after the first “accusations”, by DG.

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  76. weizguy (120 comments) says:

    More spinning by the Minister. If you stop the Department of Corrections from being innovative, give Serco lower targets and a brand new facility, of course they’re going to do well.

    I can just imagine Minister Tolley’s response if the Department had suggested similar approaches. Why is it that proponents of privatisation never want to see how it works with a level playing field?

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  77. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Perhaps a meme is better desribed as the beliefs or catch phrases that support a belief system or world view.

    Unpcnz cougar that is exactly right. Its what the US have done. In New York they started taking petty crime seriously and now you can walk round Harlem apperently, whereas I remember watching a doco in the 70s where the NY police admitted they were no better than a “force of occupation” in the ghettos.

    clinton also introduced welfare reforms in the 90s so that in most states everyone know that if you want a baby your going to have to wait tables to pay for it.

    Callifornia went the other way and took serious crime seriously with long senteces and three strikes.

    Consequently US crime has fallen well below that in NZ in many states.

    But its a mighty fine idea to pay good parents to breed. I hadnt thought of that, and perhaps combine that with paying the blameless babes not to breed.

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  78. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Yes to a certain extent its just Serco trying to establish their namby pamby credentials in the hope they wont be first against the wall when the redgreen revolution comes.

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  79. Rex Widerstrom (5,345 comments) says:

    @Monique Watson

    “Jailbait”? Considering that’s generally a term applied to promiscuous teenage girls, the mind boggles!

    My service was instructive in that, I saw that most of those who were incarcerated had no real desire to change.
    No remorse, no guilt, just an insiders vs outsiders mentality.

    Yes, me too. I befriended people who were otherwise pretty much my equals – i.e. middle class, university educated, well spoken, non-violent – but all they could talk about was how they were looking forward to getting their next “8 ball” (speed, or as NZers would call it, P) on release and how great their last one was. They’re the people I’d look at and ask “WTF were /are you thinking?”

    But there was no incentive in that maximum security facility to change. Serco incentivises positive change and people respond. It’s basic psychology, a mix of carrot and stick, and of course it works. The state run jails are harsh, but not in the way hardliners would like. They are just vast holding pens of frustrated people with nothing to do except follow rules, many of them pointless and a fair number counter-productive.

    For instance despite having a post-graduate qualification in communications I wasn’t allowed to teach other inmates to read or write during “education”. That was “against the rules” the screws (who’d both clearly dropped out of high school with a bad attitude) told me. Instead, gorwn men sat without any supervision, teaching or encouragement, in front of old PCs running programs designed for 4 and 5 year olds. So if they spelled “cat” right, a fluffy kitten would gambol across the screen. Like that’s going to get someone who fancies themselves a ‘hard man’ to learn reading and writing!

    By the time I was released I had an “insiders vs outsiders” mentality, a severe case of PTSD, and a determination to do what I could to give the inmates who wanted a chance, the chance to have one. I’ve managed to moderate the first two, but the last burns strongly as ever.

    @weizguy:

    If you stop the Department of Corrections from being innovative…

    I’ll accept that my comments here may not apply to NZ but I suspect very strongly they do, based on what colleagues working in NZ prisons have told me, what I’ve read in the literature, and my common sense telling me NZ can’t be the only Western, State-run correctional system that’s different.

    The people running (not working in… there’s an amazing number of good people at the coalface, they just don’t last working for fools) do not want change. They are career public servants who, like many of their peers in other departments, have no concept of what public service means and preside over their personal fiefdoms with jealousy, immediately rejecting any notion that they should change lest it means they learn something or have to move.

    Most are prison officers who’ve survived in the system by doing nothing beyond their job description – opening and closing doors and escorting prisoners. In their worldview prisoners are there neither for punishment or rehabilitation but to shut up, do nothing, learn nothing and help them meet their targets.

    I have tried being nice, I have tried taking them to court, but they will look you in the eye and say black is white if it means they won’t have to change a single thing.

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  80. weizguy (120 comments) says:

    Rex – I agree with you – there are people who don’t want change. There are also many smart, passionate people throughout the Department who have ideas and would like to see change. None of us should be surprised that prison systems are resistant to change – it’s easier to do things the way you always have.

    What I object to is the claim that private prisons are the only way to change this. Instead of making structural and cultural changes that would promote innovation, the Department (following direction from the government) has moved further away from innovation and appears to be focusing entirely on basic management.

    A Minister who wanted to see this type of improvement has the levers to implement change. Instead, this govt focused on privatisation and administration.

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  81. Nostradamus (3,252 comments) says:

    I’ve been reading Kiwiblog for about 8 years now. This is one of the best threads I’ve read. No trolls, no pointless name-calling – just lots of interesting and thought-provoking comments on a significant topic.

    Thanks to those who’ve contributed to this discussion.

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  82. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    When it was realised in he early 90s that NZ was facing an explosion of its prison population it became essential to do two things – provide more capacity and consider what the corrections system could do to reduce re-offending rates.
    The capacity was provided by a prison expansion and building programme that had to be re-sized upwards several times as the number of prisoner continued to rise faster than all forecasts. At the same time, the pressure on the Corrections budget constrained quite severely the rehabilitative programmes that were developed after the ambiguous result from the 1999 referendum.
    Now that prisoner numbers are falling, is there any opportunity to better resource rehabilitative efforts?

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  83. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    I think that initiatives that move prisons away from the victorian view that they ae set up to ‘punish’ wrongdoers are surely the way f the future.

    Prisons would better serve us as a society if they were fundamentally viewed as rehabilitative, dedicated to filling holes in inmates’ education and socialisation, providing skills and education so that reoffending might be reduced because an ex-con has a fighting chance of seeking and getting employment.

    If we see these institutions as solely state-sanctioned agents of retribution, how can we e anything but suprised when some crims see it as their career duty to reoffend? I know there are some bad people in there. But bottom line is, for many of the 18 – 24 year old men who are likely to find themselves in jail, there but for the grace of go go you or I.

    Institutionalising and entrenching their criminality by maintianing such environments to serve the ‘bloodlust’ of some is pointless and expensive, couter productive and self-defeating.

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  84. David Garrett (6,952 comments) says:

    Lee C: A perfect example of the bullshit “we are all potential baby bashers” meme (I have learned a new word) so beloved of the left. I have news for you sunshine: while some of your comments may apply to first time young offenders, recidivist violent offenders ARE different from you and me…while, I don’t know about you, but I am assuming you have your Id under control…

    Rex: That story about not being able to use your communications skills to teach others is appalling…and I have little difficulty accepting everything you say about how the institutions are run. but…if you scan right back up the comments you will see me refer to a woman I am corresponding with who got NCEA level 2 in jail (she left school at 14 semi literate), got cleaned up from drugs, and almost two years after getting out is doing very well. She thinks jail works, is determined not to go back, and thinks three strikes is a great idea (she herself was in for an agg robb committed to support her drug habit)…so what do you make of that? (And NO, I am not sleeping with her!)

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  85. Nostalgia-NZ (5,093 comments) says:

    One person thinks that gaol works DG. Is a lot like one person committed a horrible crime lets change the law.
    Good on her for avoiding the recidivism trap, she’s a rare escapee.
    A more typical case might be that of someone I’ll call Daniel, adopted into an abusive home, eventually placed in Lake Alice for running away from home, (actually one of the claimants in the current action against the State,) abused there also. Went on to become the youngest prisoner in Paremoremo at the time (17), very violent by then. Stopped offending about the age of 35, leads a settled life of sorts. Largely been left to himself, not a whole fellow by any means. No longer violent, still paranoid at times, suffering lung disease from a life time of smoking in prison. Fits in with the majority Rex described. Eventually learnt to read, no help at all from Parole or prison authorities because he was obviously very inward looking and unwilling to be out of step with his ‘peers.’

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  86. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Prison is the least effective method of correcting the behaviour of criminals. It should be primarily reserved for the incarceration of those who pose a higher risk of predatory offending that affects vulnerable people – murderers, rapists, child abusers, habitual drunk drivers and finance company executives.

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  87. mikemikemikemike (323 comments) says:

    So if a private company suggests this, its a good idea, with merit. But if the government does then its Leftist and Nanny-state gone mad? Why is it only rehab if someone is making money out of it?

    Likewise, if the government was in charge and the inmates are being tortured, mistreated, this is unacceptable. If Serco is found to be in charge while it is happening then the scum should not have gotten into trouble and they bloody well deserved it. (Assuming it is found out because you can bet if there is money on the line you can bet they will be very careful about ensuring it is never reported on)

    The hypocrisy in this blog is mind-boggling!

    IMHO – it’s prison, it is no place for children, people are there for punishment and rehabilitation and allowing children there only serves to normalize it as a way of life.

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  88. Rex Widerstrom (5,345 comments) says:

    Good morning all, nice to see the thread has survived the evening because, as Nostradamus says, it’s a damn good one thanks to everyone’s contributions.

    weizguy:

    Accept all that you say. On reflection I think we’re both right. To reform State-run prisons there’d need to be a wholesale clean-out of most superintendents and probably a level or two below. How would I choose? Well, socialist as this may sound, I’d poll all the lower-ranking officers who work, or had ever worked, under those administrators, and even ask the prisoners (though not let them decide, obviously). Good officers and the most prisoners want the same things, basically: a secure environment but one which is adaptable enough to, as Lee C terms it “fill the holes” in prisoners’ backgrounds – whether that’s a need for discipline, to read and write, to get into the habit of getting up and going to work…

    But I also take your point that leadership needs to come from above, and neither Tolley nor her immediate predecessor seem willing to tackle it. Partly, I think, it’s because prison officers have one of the strongest unions (along with police officers and lawyers) and one of the most strident (along with teachers) and it’s all too much trouble – after all there’s very few votes in better run prisons. Thing is, there can be, if you’re the government that can point to a fall off in reoffending. But it’s a controversial policy for a long-term pay-off and no politicians these days have the guts.

    David Garrett:

    I’m glad you’re talking to former inmates. I’ll admit I’m surprised that the young woman with nwhom you’re corresponding supports three strikes… has she said why? Did she feel she needed the guarantee of her next offence being a strike to stop her offending? Because interestingly one of the people I’m working with is a young woman who committed two ag robs (second while on bail for the first). In her case she had an opiate addiction but had committed no crimes for 4 years, managing on subutex (similar to morphine). Then a quack took her off the opiate substitutes and put herr on benzodiazepines which, if taken in high doses, induce what’s called “the Rambo effect”. Withdrawing from opiates and with her system full of benzos, she went on a crime spree.

    As soon as she was caught and imprisoned she began to straighten out – not that she was helped by the appallingly inadequate medical care offered in jails, the hallmark of which is delays for treatment that make public hospitals look like first class private clinics. She has been released for two years now and is determined never to return, not even for a day. She is equally asd adamant as your corrspondent that she doesn’t need a mandatory sentence hanging over her head to keep her on the straight and narrow,.

    mikemikemikemike:

    Why is it only rehab if someone is making money out of it?

    Good point. I know some regular contributors here genuinely believe any prison ought to be rehabilitative, but I wonder if a few of the commenters who engage less with these issues would be as supportive of such initiatives if they were in fact occurring in State prisons?

    it’s prison, it is no place for children, people are there for punishment and rehabilitation and allowing children there only serves to normalize it as a way of life.

    I assure you there is nothing normal about visiting a loved one in prison. You’re surrounded by razor wire, escorted by guards, sit separated from the person you’re seeing (either by distance or sometimes by plate glass, talking to them by phone). If you’re lucky you get a hug at the start and end. Everyone is stressed, many are crying. In Australia, if you look up when you enter or leave you’ll see guards with rifles and you’ll know that if there’s ever a riot or an escape attempt, your loved one may end up shot – even if they’re just innocently caught in the melee. Not that that’s likely, but when you’re worried for the welfare of the person you’re visiting, such things play on your mind…

    Scroll up and you’ll see there’s lots of research that says visiting by family has positrive outcomes for children and for the chances of the prisoner reoffending. What we should be doing is trying to make it more normal, which is what Tolley is suggesting in this case. But the point you make first is right – she needs to be courageous and insist her department follow suit because rehabilitation shouldn’t only occur if someone is making money from it.

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