8 comments on “How to cut the prison population by 50% – long term solutions

  1. Totally agree with your “…until we have a Government with the courage to ignore the moral panic perpetuated by the Senseless Sentencing Trust…” declaration. The prison population will never reduce as long as the government puts the responsibility for achieving those reductions on the Dept of Corrections. Corrections mismanagement often keeps people in prison longer than they should be there by fouling up the parole system.

    However, Corrections doesn’t send people to prison – Judges do that in response to pressure brought to bear by followers of McVicar and his SST clowns. Reduction needs to start with fixing the faults within Ministry of Justice. Given that Andrew Little is now the Minister there is a possibility for that to happen. National Ministers Power, Collins & Adams were responsible for causing the current mess over the last decade so it might take a while to fix that, however, Andrew is also Treaty Negotiations Minister …

    In September 2017 Maori accounted for 50.7% of the prison population (Dept of Corrections quarterly prison statistics) so the most expedient solution would be to force the Maori Hierarchy to use the Treaty Settlement millions to actually help their own. Andrew as Treaty Negotiations Minister may be able to exert some pressure in that direction starting with making Tribes responsible first of all for providing “half-way houses and reintegration services” for their own people followed by investing in measures to reduce Maori offending.


  2. This evidence shows the most effective and cost effective way to deal with crime is prevention. All the rest is picking up the pieces. Time for more politicians and academics to get to know the evidence http://bit.ly/1av9GHF and do the planning to make it happen. It is upstream investments in well planned and executed comprehensive strategies that engage early childhood, youth outreach, jobs and smart policing that can save $7 for every $1. Upstream prevention is much more cost effective than rehabilitation. Prevention better than cure but cure OK. Solution to Maori over-representation in prisons must include solution to Maori over-representation in violent crime – upstream investments in proven solutions relating to parenting, youth, alcohol and so on. Building prisons misspends – a 50% cut in crime rate would sustain large savings by avoiding prison building.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Whilst no one wants to see a ballooning number of incarcerations and ideally I only think prison should be used for violent offenders I do not wish to see the current bail laws repealed wholesale. Personally I can’t see how you can advocate for this, and you are doing your cause an injustice by taking such a view.

    Prior to the current legislation being enacted:

    THE NUMBERS (from an NZ Herald OIA request)

    78,000 people spend time on bail each year in New Zealand. Between 2006 and 2010:

    * 23 were convicted of murder
    * 21 were convicted of homicide-related offences including manslaughter and attempted murder
    * 7146 were convicted of acts intended to cause injury
    * 1132 were convicted of abduction, kidnapping, false imprisonment, harassment, nuisance or threatening behaviour
    * 763 were convicted of sexual assaults or offending.

    To say that the 2,000 head count increase in the prison population is due to tougher bail conditions when 78,000 are bailed each year seems overly simplistic.

    Personally I would prefer to infringe on the rights of a few bailee’s than have 5 additional NZ’ers killed each year. How much value do you place on a life? Not to mention all the other harm caused by people on bail.

    Also the Ministry Of Justice estimate that the increase in Police numbers as proposed by the government will result in an increase in the prison population by an additional 400 people. Where do we put these people and how do we rehabilitate them without more prisons? Unfortunately these numbers are facts, and not my numbers.

    Whilst people advocate that the Police’s job should be crime prevention in reality their job is to enforce the law and thus make arrests. I don’t view NZ as a lawless state and as such I am unsure why we need to increase the number of sworn officers by almost 20%. This policy is a blatant vote grab plane and simple. Why is no one questioning this increase?

    Crime is a function of poverty and I believe that the money spent on extra Police (perhaps we could do with a further 200 Police to correct the reduction of 100 front-line police involved in traffic enforcement experienced in 2016, and to turn the tide of the poor burglary clearance rates) could be better spent on mental health, social workers, social housing and other measures to reduce poverty statistics.

    Sorry I am labouringy point which is we do not want to see more innocent NZ’ers needlessly killed by a wholesale repeal of the current bail laws.

    There is no silver bullet to fix the expanding prison population. As Sir Peter Blake remarked in winning the America’s cup it’s not about doing 1 thing 1,000 percent better but doing 1,000 things 1% better.

    Please take a more considered approach to your thinking. The reality is it’s no better than Garth McVicar and in reality you are both extremists, but at the opposite end of the correctional spectrum.


    • Dan wrote: “To say that the 2,000 head count increase in the prison population is due to tougher bail conditions when 78,000 are bailed each year seems overly simplistic.”

      You’re absolutely right. It is very simple.

      When the Govt passed the Bail Amendment Act, the MOJ advised them it would only lead to another 50 to 60 people on remand. Now the MOJ says it led to the quickest increase in the prison muster ever recorded after judges locked up another 1,500. Its all documented on Stuff under this heading: A single legal change has caused massive growth in the prison muster.

      Simple. Nothing extreme about that – except the dramatic increase in the number of people held in prison on remand.


    • Dan writes: “There is no silver bullet to fix the expanding prison population.”

      Yeah there is.

      1) Repeal the Bail Amendment Act. That will decrease the number of people in prison by over 1,500.

      2) Allow more prisoners to be released automatically after serving half their sentence – so they don’t have to go to the Parole Board. This can be done by changing the definition of ‘short term’ sentence from two years to five years. That get another 1,000 prisoners out early.

      Problem solved.


  4. Dan also wrote: “Personally I would prefer to infringe on the rights of a few bailee’s than have 5 additional NZ’ers killed each year.”

    So consider this. Six times as many people are killed on NZ roads every year as are murdered.

    Ten times more Kiwis commit suicide than are murdered every year.

    Personally I would prefer to impinge on the rights of a few drink drivers and provide more help for families who abuse or neglect their children than have so many people commit suicide or get killed on the roads each year.


  5. When did two wrongs make a right? You can’t use road statistics as a means to justify your opinion on repealing the current bail legislation which is literally saving lives. I trust Chrissie Masoe? Whilst I acknowledge that there was multiple failures that led to Akshay Chandelier being bailed the reality is that she would still be alive if he had been caught initially under the current bail provisions.

    You do understand that bail, road crashes, and suicide are unrelated right? How did you draw that straight line?

    If due to your campaign the current bail legislation is repealed I would you to be responsible for calling the lived ones of people killed by people on bail.

    Here’s how you reduce the prison population without killing people:
    – we follow Portugal’s model and decriminalise all drugs and treat drug use as a health issue
    – The Ministry of Justice figures show that 2,800 people are imprisoned for minor drug offences
    – 200 people are in prison for just possessing a pipe!

    Drug use (especially cannabis) is not a violent crime, and most drug use only harms the user and can be considered a crime against oneself and not really society. Since you like to link suicide here’s an apology; consisting someone for marijuana use is akin to charge someone with attempted murder for trying to commit suicide.

    Trying to get the drug laws amended to reduce the prison population would be a better use of your energy than trying to repeal the bail laws which will literally put NZ’ers in harms way 23 people were killed in 4 years prior to the current bail laws being enacted by people on bail – that’s a fact!).

    As for how we reduce the road toll and the alcohol harm on our roads here’s a very left field idea:

    How about when people are found guilty of drink driving we take away their right to drink, rather than their right to drive. I

    don’t thinking driving is the issue but drinking is. Especially when you consider the behaviour of recidivist drink drivers. From a philosophical stand point why is the ability to drink alcohol a God given right, and yet driving is considered a privilege.

    Driving is key to a number of people’s ability to earn money either by driving as part of their job, or to get too or from work, or look after their families. I think driving should be a part of the school curriculum with the goal to have all New Zealanders over the age of 16 have a licence. At 16 once you have got a driving licence; between the age of 16 – 18 you are then issued with a probationary licence that allows you to drive but doesn’t allow you to drink.

    At the age of 18 you present yourself at your local AA branch and they issue you with your +18 full licence (which has been sent in advance to your nominated AA branch). In the event that you are then caught drink driving you get your full licence re-called and you are re-issued the probationary 16 – 18 licence removing your right to purchase alcohol. Everytime you buy a drink at a pub or restaurant, or alcohol from an off-licence you are required to provide your drivers licence regardless of age so they can determine if you are legally allowed to buy alcohol. Any business or individual providing alcohol to an unlicensed person runs the risk of a fine, or loss of licence for the sale of alcohol, or the right to buy alcohol. This also has the benefit of meaning that people that are caught drink driving won’t lose their job and ability to earn money, and will free up court time and resources as a number of people who lose their licence for drink driving merely go to court to get a day licence so that they don’t lose their job also minimising the punishment as you can still drive 5 days a week. I think this policy will also help some of the alcohol issues we have in NZ, and it’s the drinking not the driving that is the issue. Two flaws that I can see and can’t find a work around on yet are those people that lose their licence for non drink related issues such as speeding, and how we deal with foreign visitors.

    Maybe those that get too many demerit points for driving offences do lose their right to drive and their drivers licence and are issued a replacement temporary licence which only allows them the right to purchase alcohol. As they have incurred driving offences they should lose the right to drive. Drink driving would still be an alcohol offence and mean you use the right to purchase alcohol. This right to drink but not drive licence can then be issued to those that are too physically challenged to be able to drive like the blind for example.


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