Cherry picking over the imprisonment rate

December 16th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Sensationalised mass media, the rise of populist pressure groups and distrust of expert input has led to New Zealand’s Third World levels of imprisonment, a leading academic says.

In a paper titled A Punitive Society, Victoria University criminology Professor has attacked New Zealand’s continually rising imprisonment rate and what he terms “penal populism” around crime.

I’ve never ever heard a criminology academic (exception of Greg Newbold) say anything on that isn’t 1000% predictable.

In New Zealand, there are 194 prisoners for every 100,000 people.

This is higher than anywhere in Western Europe and sits between African countries Gabon and Namibia on a global league table.

This is carefully cherry picked as saying that our imprisonment rate is only the 74th highest in the world doesn’t sound anywhere near as sexy. Also note the careful selection of Western Europe only so European and OECD countries such as Estonia, Czech Republic and Poland are excluded.

The crime rate has been falling for years and yet the prison population and corrections spending has ballooned to $1.2 billion this year, Professor Pratt said.

Corrections spending includes rehabilitation and extra money for drug and alcohol treatment. Is Professor Pratt against this?

The leading academic also has the most basic facts wrong. He claims the prison population is increasing. It is not. The latest head count has 8,474 prisoners. Three years ago it was 8,747. That is a decrease.

Tags: , ,

30 Responses to “Cherry picking over the imprisonment rate”

  1. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    “Well you sound like a Pratt. John Pratt? Ebenezer Pratt…?”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6qe4hC321E‎

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    Pffft. “Leading academic” – Labour supporter in other words.

    Just like the term “Asian” in UK newspapers is “PC-code” that almost invariably means “Muslim”.

    Given that this “leading academic” even has the prison head-count wrong, he sure as hell doesn’t look like a “leading academic” to me.

    Vote: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. All_on_Red (1,584 comments) says:

    Who funds these pricks? Does anybody fact check what they write and take money back if its wrong?

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. cha (4,036 comments) says:

    (exception of Greg Newbold)

    Yeah, heroin importers are people too.
    /

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. stephieboy (3,164 comments) says:

    Sigh thor 42.
    It was the Labour lead coalition under Clark that introduced extending minimum parole terms of murder beyond the 10 years.It was National in the 1990s under the then Minister of Justice Doug Graham that refused to countenance such measures

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    @stephieboy – And it is Labour and the Greens who want to get rid of the “three strikes” law.

    Nice try, trying to paint the lefties as “tough on crime”.

    Vote: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. stephieboy (3,164 comments) says:

    Cha : Greg Newbold did his time at Pare and one thing the Superintendent of the Max prison taught him was that only the prisoner reform themselves could reform and change themselves . Nobody could do it for them.
    Lesson learn’t and Greg is one of the very few who has brought some sanity and common sense to issues of Prisoners rehabilitation and Prison reform.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. cha (4,036 comments) says:

    He did his time there in separates because his co-offenders had put the word out…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. stephieboy (3,164 comments) says:

    thor sorry but National and righties are well known for their two faced attitude towards violent rime. The facts remain and I repeat ,it was Labour who introduced extending minimum parole way beyond 10 years for Violent acts like murder which e.g resulted Bell getting 30 years non parole. Under the Nats and Doug Graham he would likely of out for only ten years

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. thedavincimode (6,800 comments) says:

    Chain gang.

    Vote: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. cha (4,036 comments) says:

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. Nigel Kearney (1,019 comments) says:

    Why would a criminology academic ever say that criminal sentences are primarily to protect the public and punish the offender, and rehabilitation is less important? They are undermining their own reason to exist if they do that.

    It would be like an alchemy professor suggesting that maybe it isn’t actually possible to turn base metals into gold. Or a climate science academic suggesting that human activity has only a very small effect on overall temperatures in the longer term.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. All_on_Red (1,584 comments) says:

    “Or a climate science academic suggesting that human activity has only a very small effect on overall temperatures in the longer term”

    Interesting. So how much of the .7 degree C rise we have had since 1900 is man made and how much is natural variability?
    If you can answer that, it would be a first, because no one else has…

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. thedavincimode (6,800 comments) says:

    cha, I was humming that as I typed!

    The tdvm version of the chain gang is a bit different, although the music won’t be as good.

    No point in taking people out of employment and putting their families on welfare. Leave them in work, take all their recreational time and make them work doing things that wouldn’t otherwise be done. Not in work? Jackpot – you get to enjoy the great outdoors full-time. We could get rid of the gorse and the thistles lickety split.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    It would be better if we joined the more civilised countries of the world with a lower imprisonment rate. Locking people up for dealing weed is stupid.

    As Dean Wickliffe said, if you want to learn how to become a competent criminal, you will learn that in jail.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    It was the Labour lead coalition under Clark that introduced extending minimum parole terms of murder beyond the 10 years.It was National in the 1990s under the then Minister of Justice Doug Graham that refused to countenance such measures

    Doug Graham was one of those few members of parliament in every term that are obviously not idiots. They are becoming an endangered species in the National party these days, which seems made up of obnoxious derpers like Collins and Paula Bennett, or bovine cannon fodder like the hapless Parata or David Bennett. Who ever would have thought that Muldoon’s National would have looked like intellectual heavyweights in comparison?

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. thedavincimode (6,800 comments) says:

    Locking people up for dealing weed is stupid.

    Correct Tom. Chain gang!

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. kowtow (8,524 comments) says:

    If you learn to be a competent criminal by going to gaol why do so many get repeat sentences?

    Upskilling?

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. cha (4,036 comments) says:

    Upskilling?

    They’re making friends and learning about a whole new world of opportunities, not competency.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. peterwn (3,277 comments) says:

    “Sensationalised mass media, the rise of populist pressure groups and distrust of expert input has led to New Zealand’s Third World levels of imprisonment, a leading academic says.”

    Blaming the media! With the reddish tinge of the mainstream media, surely Prof Pratt should have no trouble putting across his viewpoint in the Herald, on Nine to Noon or Campbell Live. He would find it easier to get ‘time’ than Judith Collins.

    As for distrust of ‘expert’ input, that is the professor’s problem. If he chooses to ‘cherry pick’ data and gets caught out, is it any wonder that Judith Collins, corrections management and the public all distrust his opinion.

    Frankly I do not know why VUW tolerates a department that operates in an echo chamber. Now seems the time to put the Criminology Department out of its misery and re-allocate funds to something like Engineering.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Bad__Cat (140 comments) says:

    ” The latest head count has 8,474 prisoners. Three years ago it was 8,747. That is a decrease.”

    No it’s not! See my previous posts on Socialist Mathematics, where any figures quoted prove the Left’s current argument.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. MaxG (7 comments) says:

    The crime rate has been falling for years and yet the prison population … has ballooned.

    Hmmm, I wonder if there is a connection?

    Nah, must be a coincidence.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. wikiriwhis business (4,019 comments) says:

    ‘The crime rate has been falling for years and yet the prison population … has ballooned.

    Hmmm, I wonder if there is a connection?’

    More jails have been planned and opened.

    They even talked of using car cases for cells.

    Probably already plotted out land for US style FEMA camps

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. Harriet (4,979 comments) says:

    “….Victoria University criminology Professor John Pratt has attacked New Zealand’s continually rising imprisonment rate and what he terms “penal populism” around crime…..”

    The last time I looked [at the stats] – those in prison are mostly the products of fatherless homes – where nearly ‘all male prisoners’ have spent little or no time with their natural fathers!

    The good professor should go and get the facts off those educated in ‘family law’ – before he goes out and accuses respectable members of society who are GOOD PARENTS that they are completly fucken wrong about what to do with rapists, bashers, shooters, stabbers, drug dealers, child abusers, child killing parents, and those who think society should be robbed 24/7/365!

    Or in other words professor – HALF ASSED RELATIONSHIPS BREED PRISONERS! :cool:

    And that is in ALL WESTERN COUNTRIES!

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. alloytoo (546 comments) says:

    If Crime is decreasing, then it seems to me that we’ve put the right people in prison.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. brad123 (18 comments) says:

    Stats can be misleading to some extent. It is worth noting that although NZ’s imprisonment rate is higher than Australia’s, the State by State comparison in Australia makes for interesting reading.

    There are reasonable differences between imprisonment rates between the states, with NT having the highest by a large margin. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/1C9585084E9D4326CA25795F000DB3C0?opendocument.

    The same goes for the USA as well. There are huge differences between the rates in the States with some Northeastern States having lower prison rates than NZ. http://www.sentencingproject.org/map/map.cfm

    Ultimately this is all a red hearing. Imprisonment rates essentially boil down to 2 things: Length of sentences and parole eligibility. If laws are passed ensuring lengthier sentences, and if the Parole board has a very tough criteria for release or no Parole altogether, then more people in prison are generally the result. If the public were asked, most would say criminals in this country have it too good anyway, so I don’t know what the Professor would recommend we do with our apparently high imprisonment rate. Any government that denied the public its ‘pound of flesh’ in respect of sentencing would almost certainly be voted from office and we have seen this in NZ in the past with the 1999 Criminal Justice Referendum and the massive support that Mark Middleton gathered when he publicly and repeatedly threatened to kill the killer of his step daughter, Paul Dally

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. UrbanNeocolonialist (289 comments) says:

    Take away the Maori/Polynesian prison population and NZ is pretty much average with the rest of the OECD. The places with the lowest prison populations are ethnically homogenous European countries.

    So why are Maori over-represented? Most would say it is because they are (on average) poorer, but they are only poor in a relative sense- they are still wealthy by international standards (probably in top 10% globally), and yet most poor people from around the world are far less likely to commit crime.

    It does seem to me that a primary cause may be that they have little to no fear of prison, that our sentencing has far less deterrent effect on the poor than it does amongst wealthier socio-economic groups who rely on their good name to keep their jobs and give them greater opportunities. For a poor person prison does not have much impact on their standard of living, and their friends and communities don’t stigmatise it at all.

    If that is the case then something needs to be done to bring back deterrence in our sentencing systems, and I don’t think that longer prison terms are the answer as it is expensive and makes the parolees even less useful and more used to criminal behaviour when they are released. I think shorter prison stays with some sort of corporal punishment would be a better deterrent and would reduce the deleterious effects of incarceration. For example a few weeks of an hour or two of daily torture for recidivist offenders – but something that doesn’t damage in the long term – like electric shocks, water-boarding, or a pain-causing injection etc. But if they keep on re-offending then lock them up for the public good (three strikes style)

    Alternatively (and much faster and cheaper) remove a testicle/ovary on 2nd or 3rd conviction. Re-offend and lose the other one. That would quickly put a halt to the bad behaviour amongst younger offenders that pride themselves on being “tough”, “hard” or virile. And might just eliminate the cause of some of the offending too.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. Bob R (1,377 comments) says:

    Professor John Pratt is the same moron who was unhappy about this repeat street mugger being in line for three strikes. The man brings academics into disrepute with his lack of connection to reality.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/8605255/Anger-at-14-year-strike-2-warning

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. Bob R (1,377 comments) says:

    ***The crime rate has been falling for years and yet the prison population and corrections spending has ballooned to $1.2 billion this year, Professor Pratt said.***

    Professor Steven Levitt explains the relationship between incarceration and crime reduction.

    Levitt, Steven D. (Winter 2004). “Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not” (PDF). Journal of Economic Perspectives 18: 163–190.

    http://pricetheory.uchicago.edu/levitt/Papers/LevittUnderstandingWhyCrime2004.pdf

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. Left Right and Centre (2,986 comments) says:

    Bob R – I knew that name sounded familiar. I read a book he’s co-author of, one chapter there also links US crime rates dropping in the 90s with legalised abortion. The book is ‘Freakonomics’. I’d put that book up there – loved it. Same with ‘Scorecasting’. Along the same lines. I ripped through those two in nothing flat – brilliant.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote