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Davis on iwi-run prisons

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, April 16th, 2010 - 37 comments
Categories: class war, labour, law and "order", prisons, privatisation - Tags: ,

Labour’s Kelvin Davis is a hell of a writer and he unleashes on iwi corporates looking to profit off running prisons:

So a private prison is going to be built at Wiri.

I see some iwi are rubbing their hands together in glee at the prospect of being able to get rich by locking their own up.

It goes to show how high the aspirations of some of our Maori leaders are. We now aspire to bung the bros in the hinaki and watch the dollars roll in. The longer and more often we can put them away, the sooner we will be able to afford to expand the prison and lock even more away.

With the soaring crime rate and high Maori unemployment everything is coming together nicely for iwi to become extremely wealthy. The last thing these iwi will want is for the country to emerge from the recession or for our kids to do well at school. Every Maori child born is a potential source of income not as a leader, businessman or entrepreneur but as a Beagle Boy.

What the heck, if profits start to dip or costs need to be cut, these iwi can just pay the other rellies who guard the bros a little less, or sack a couple of them purely in the best interests of the iwi of course.

Running a prison means imprisonment of Maori becomes financially necessary for iwi.

Making money by locking the bros up is culturally abhorrent and if this is one of the Treaty rights that we’re after, they can stick it. I’d rather have my integrity.

By all means infuse kaupapa Maori throughout the prison system surely Pita Sharples can wield his considerable influence as Associate Minister of Corrections to make this happen? Just don’t ever pretend it is okay for iwi to lock the whanau up and make money from it.

Personally I’d prefer iwi put their energies into supporting their local schools and building universities, but maybe I’m just old fashioned. That would take a bit of effort and why would iwi bother going down that old path when there’s a quick buck to be made by locking the bros up? Besides, preventing Maori from getting to prison in the first place will cut into profits.

This is one of the many problems with private prisons. You turn locking people up into a desirable, in fact necessary, activity from the perspective of the private owners, whether they be an iwi or an Aussie or US outfit. It becomes an economic imperative for these organisations for people to keeping on getting locked up, preferably more people and for longer.

We’ve seen the economically rational behaviour of private prison owners in the US that result: low rehabilition rates, lobbying for longer sentences, bribery and corruption of judges.

37 comments on “Davis on iwi-run prisons”

  1. Evidence-Based Practice 1

    I have a lot of respect for Kelvin Davis for what he has done in education in Northland. He has risen even higher in my estimation with this brave critique.

  2. Tigger 2

    Expect bribing to judges for longer sentences also. You want prisoners behind bars for as long as possible to maximise profits, create demand and expand your enterprise…

  3. Jono 3

    One of the most despicable things I have heard in a long time was Bill English on Morning Report earlier in the week, noting that private prison companies would want to make sure the “demand” for prisoners met their needs before entering the business again in New Zealand.

    “Demand” for prisoners a financial imperative for private prison companies.

    Jesus wept.

  4. aj 4

    To consider that judges will become susceptible to bribes is expecting a considerable slump in the ethics of our highest judicial officers. They are already very well paid and I can’t see a decline in their generally high standard of conduct. Saying that though, I agree with the rest of the comments.

    • Tigger 4.1

      Slump of judicial ethics you say…http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/3574226/Supreme-Court-judge-accused-of-fictitious-story

      I’m not saying our judges are terribly corrupt – but once big US firms and their big money get their hands on our prison system expect them to come under more pressure to take bribes, kickbacks, whatever you want to call them.

      • aj 4.1.1

        In this case there is an error of judgement. The amount of the loan was petty cash to this particular person. It is being played to the hilt by a range of parties with their own agendas. Nevertheless – people is such positions need to be completely transparent.

    • Bright Red 4.2

      Money corrupts. We don’t have a (nearly) corruption-free judicial system because our judges happen to be wonderfully more moral than those in the US, it’s because we have a system that doesn’t encourage and prevents corruption.

      You righties have to learn that outcomes at a macro level are determined by design of institutions and systems, not personal morality.

  5. Jim Nald 5

    Good onya, Kelvin.

    Heart and brains in the right place, and you’ve exercised your voice pointedly.

  6. Bored 6

    Marty, I questioned yesterday the morality of making money from misery. Everybody was so fixed on the money side of the argument that it passed them by that there is a moral imperative that should over ride mere financial questions. You summed it up very well, thank you.

  7. Shona 7

    Kelvin Davis turned Kaitaia Intermediate around and made it a high achieving school after decades of neglect and indifference. No mean feat. Those of us who value academic achievement are not only old fashioned by this government’s criteria but also it would seem irrelevant.

    • just saying 7.1

      God help us – don’t tell me he used to be a school teacher!!
      he should be over in the naughty corner along with solo mums and the inured and disabled, those who cant find work…. and all the rest of us undesirables who don’t deserve the air we breathe.

      Seriously though…. kudos to Kelvin for this excellent piece and for his achievments at Kaitaia Intermediate.
      Time he was promoted methinks

  8. Very welcome comment by Kelvin.

    My fingers are crossed that the country can have a rational debate on the use of incarceration. It does not work and sucks resources that could otherwise be used for rehabilitation.

    European nations realise this. Their rates of incarceration are way below ours.

    If you present the argument in language that a hard nosed accountant would relate to then the debate should produce something rational.

    Why does NZ continue to invest huge amounts of money into a system that fails 90% of the time?

  9. Tiger Mountain 9

    Kelvin is potentially a real challenge for National, articulate, and up to date. And as Shona above says has actually turned a school around, not just talked about doing so. It is a pity there can’t be two Te Tai Tokerau MPs, as only Hone can currently keep Calvin out of that spot. Yes I realise Kelvin chooses to be with Labour.
    I would be interested in comments on Kelvin’s piece from some of the theoretical acrobats who comment here. Those who attempt to negate class when it comes to Maori politics, and promote ethnicity as not only paramount but mutually exclusive of other perspectives.

    • Lew 9.1

      TM, by your last jibe I assume you mean me. You can read one brief thought of mine on the topic at KP.

      L

      • Tiger Mountain 9.1.1

        Not just you Lew, my comment was jibey though, apologies. I will head over to KP for a deeper think about this subject.

        Kelvin seems to have quite a fan club too!

        • Lew 9.1.1.1

          Well, I’m braz’d to it : )

          Not an especially deep consideration of the issues on my part over there, I’m afraid — other responsibilities preclude the investment of time and brains for the moment.

          Davis certainly has begun to show some chops, and it’s marvellous. He and Jones are a strong Tai Tokerau force — and neither discard or suppress their indigeneity. My objection to the class analysis isn’t that it exists — I’ve said before it’s a crucial component of any modern left critique. My criticism is that its more zealous proponents believe it should extinguish other analyses. So I don’t believe it should be negated, any more than I believe that ethicity should be. The two need to proceed together.

          L

    • It maybe was me TM but I’m not a mutually exclusive fan.

      My view on PPP’s is that it will be bad for maori and all people in this country. I thought marty g’s post was on the money. http://www.thestandard.org.nz/ppps-dont-make-economic-sense/

      Divide and conquer is the way that these people work and they will attempt to do that with maori, as they are doing now and always have done. I believe that any connection between iwi and these private companies will be poisoned apples for maori.

      http://mars2earth.blogspot.com/2010/04/ppps-bad-for-maori.html

  10. Anne 10

    Kelvin is shaping up to be one of the big success stories of the 2008 Labour intake. He does the hard yards and is dedicated to improving the educational standards of Maori in particular. I understand it was Shane Jones who talked him into entering politics. It was an inspired move.

  11. tc 11

    The nat’s are playing the same game with maori they play with everyone…..target the well off by making them better off and who cares about the rest.

    As for a rational debate MS……noble thoughts but reality is it’ll probably be dog whistle mania with our msm.

  12. the sprout 12

    It’s encouraging to see Kelvin speaking out on this topic. Good work.

  13. tsmithfield 13

    The article above is a bit short-sighted and cynical:

    1. Perhaps Maori think they are best qualified to know how to turn around the lives of other Maori who have gone off the rails.
    2. Maori providers would mean the profits stay in New Zealand.
    3. The profits from the prison contract could go into other endeavors such as education etc.

    • Bright Red 13.1

      “1. Perhaps Maori think they are best qualified to know how to turn around the lives of other Maori who have gone off the rails.”

      You want some kind of adjective in front of “Maori” there. Clearly, not all Maori think that its right for an iwi to be making a profit off imprisoning its people, clearly. After all, Kelvin is Maori.

      “2. Maori providers would mean the profits stay in New Zealand.”

      Why do we have to have prisons for profit at all?

      “3. The profits from the prison contract could go into other endeavors such as education etc.”

      And, like Davis points out, that just makes the iwi financially dependent on continuing to lock up lots of people, hardly the way forward.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.2

      Get it right TS, you’re short-sighted and stupid.

      1.) Profit is a dead weight loss
      2.) To maximise profit the profiteers will cut services until such point as the government has to bail them out
      3.) This will lead to the prisons costing us more and us not actually being any safer than we were

      Having private enterprise running prisons for profit is irrational.

      • Lew 13.2.1

        DTB,

        Profit is a dead weight loss

        Is black also white, freedom also slavery? Are there magic word-redefining pixies at the bottom of the garden?

        L

    • Cnr Joe 13.3

      ‘Profits’ – says it all tsmithf…. profits to made in incarceration, an ‘industry’ to be privatised, a service to be corporatised – horrible thought processes..

  14. tsmithfield 14

    BR: “You want some kind of adjective in front of “Maori’ there. Clearly, not all Maori think that its right for an iwi to be making a profit off imprisoning its people, clearly. After all, Kelvin is Maori.”

    I expect the separatist element of Maori would see this type of move as an opportunity for Maori to to administer, at least in part, justice to their own rather than rely on Pakehas to do it for them. I actually think more Maori involvement in the prison service (public or private) is a good idea given that unfortunately there are a lot of Maori in prison. From the point of view of understanding how ones own culture ticks, and how to best influence and motivate people from ones own culture, I think it is a good idea. What about you? As a general principle, do you support more Maori involvement in the prison system?

    BR “Why do we have to have prisons for profit at all?”

    That is a different debate. Assuming there IS going to be a privately run prison, would you prefer the profits going overseas or staying in New Zealand?

    BR “And, like Davis points out, that just makes the iwi financially dependent on continuing to lock up lots of people, hardly the way forward.”

    This is a truly dumb argument. You could say the same about doctors and dentists. However, I don’t see them trying to encourage people to eat badly, not exercise or avoid health check-ups so they can get future business, do you? The assumption that Maori providers would act in a less professional manner would be considered racist if made by a non-Maori.

    • The Chairman 14.1

      Health professionals encouraging people to eat badly, not exercise or avoid health check-ups, would not be socially acceptable and would be quite a hard sell. Whereas, incarcerating criminal undesirables for public safety is far more socially acceptable hence, a lot easier to sell.

  15. Bill 15

    There are old lyrics from awhile ago that run…

    “We can and will run the factories and mills
    We can and will educate ourselves
    We can and will work the fields
    We can and will police ourselves
    We can and will create and build”

    Which is pretty close to the implied sentiments if not the rhetoric of the Maori Party. Which would be laudable if it represented the intended reality.

    But even if it did, liberals would still object on the grounds that it would be better if they (the liberals) nurtured, promoted and protected socially conscious professionals to do all that ‘control stuff’ under the auspices of weighty tombs of legislation, while they presided over the entire shebang as self regarded benevolent lords and masters…with a state fist clenched inside a silky National Liberal glove ‘just in case’.

    And the corporates would object on the grounds that it would be better if they (the corporates) nurtured, promoted and protected market orientated managers to do all that ‘control stuff’ under the auspices of the self regulating market, while they presided over the entire shebang as rationally optimising lords and masters… with a state fist clenched inside a silky corporate glove ‘just in case’.

    The corporate camp and the liberal camp are not the diametrically opposed protagonists they would have you and I believe. They both want to exercise power. And that’s all they’re wrestling over.

    You and I are irrelevant and both tacitly agree that things are to stay that way.

    So maybe our deliberate and ongoing exclusion is what we should be focussing on. And maybe we should be creating counter demands of inclusion rather than being hopeless proxys in other peoples’ wars and wasting our time fighting these false battles that will not benefit us no matter which protagonist wins.

    A good start would be getting on side with Maori and calling the Maori Party on their shit by demanding that Maori and others are genuinely empowered by policies such as Whanau Ora rather than joining in as foot soldiers of the liberal elite.

    • Lew 15.1

      Speaking of not being diametrically opposed, Bill, do you see any irony in a socialist-anarchist employing the potted terminology of the statist-capitalist US Republican party?

      L

      • Bill 15.1.1

        Have you got anything of substance to say in relation to the comment I made Lew?

        • Lew 15.1.1.1

          Nothing I’ve not said before, Bill. I agree with some of your conclusions but very little of your route to them, or the rhetoric in which they are couched.

          L

  16. Could always up the non Maori Pasifikan quota to make up the shortfall cos aint no one speaking up for us…is there ?

    After all, we’re invisible and expendable with no political capital to be gained in repping beyond lip service and a token effort.

  17. Ahhh yes….Mr ‘loves to linger’.

    Dunno what he stands for cos i’ve never heard or seen him take stand. Seems quite content to linger in the corridors of power as the token National poly who’s brown in skin and name only.

    I don’t know why the Labour FOB squad aren’t nailing his ass to the wall on his support for ‘3 strikes’

    http://www.lotu-iiga.com/index.php?/archives/70-Worst-offenders-will-face-three-strikes-sentencing-regime-22-January-2010.html

    cos if you explained that a lot of young poly men are the ones who will most suffer for it, in being only one strike away from jail, then what hes advocating is incarceration over rehabilitation and the failure of the Pasifikan community to positively influence that decision for the sake of their own.

  18. PK 18

    ***European nations realise this. Their rates of incarceration are way below ours.***

    I thought if you compared rates of europeans in NZ the rate was similar? Also, what do they offer in terms of rehabilitation that NZ prisons don’t?

  19. Luke.xensen 19

    this is getting a little off topic but has to be seem. Says it all about mr Love to linger
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nznationalparty/4266691339/in/set-72157615779909365/

  20. Shazzadude 20

    If Labour doesn’t win the next election, Kelvin Davis should be the next Labour leader. Someone like Shane Jones is far too abrasive. Give him a safe general electorate, stat.

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