Good and bad ways to reduce the prison population

The Herald reports:

The Labour-led Government wants to put the brakes on the burgeoning prison muster so it can axe plans for a new 1500-bed prison – expected to cost close to $1 billion.

The increase in remand prisoners has put pressure on the prison population in recent years and Corrections is now looming as a political battleground, with Opposition leader Bill English warning that it will test the Government.

The number of prisoners has risen since new laws in 2013 that made it tougher to grant bail, roughly doubling the number of remand prisoners to about 3000 today.

The prison muster yesterday was 10,457, well above justice sector forecasts and expected to keep rising.

Last year the previous Government unveiled plans to add 1800 prison beds at a cost of $1 billion, with more double bunking in Ngawha Prison, a new 245-bed block in Mt Eden Prison, and the new 1500-bed prison.
Justice Minister Andrew Little said it was his “strong preference” not to build a new prison, which he called a symbol of the “abject failure of our criminal justice system”.


No one wants more , but if more people need to be in prisons you need places for them.

The good ways to reduce the prison population are:

  • Fewer people commit serious crimes
  • The re-offending rate drops for existing criminals
  • Fewer breaches of parole
  • Fewer breaches of bail

The bad ways to reduce the prison population are:

  • Giving shorter sentences to serious violent and sexual offenders
  • Ignoring breaches of bail and parole conditions
  • Allowing serious offenders out more often to commit more crimes and victimise more people

It will be great if Labour reduces the prison population through the first set of measures. My fear is it will be the second set.

Davis said some innovative thinking could be used to rehabilitate women prisoners, whose needs and motives are different to men.

“Men normally do things because we’re a bit stupid. Women normally commit crime to protect others, their families, their children.”

Well that is a gross stereotype. Clayton Weatherston wasn’t thick. He was a sociopath. And Joanne Harrison wasn’t protecting anyone when she stole from the Ministry of Transport. She was just greedy.

Sad to see the Corrections Minister making excuses for criminals.

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