Falling prison numbers

Written By: - Date published: 11:18 am, May 22nd, 2012 - 12 comments
Categories: prisons, privatisation - Tags:

It’s an interesting fact that the one area in which National is going against its traditional approach and moving towards what the experts advocate is prisons. And I think I know why. In education, health, welfare etc National’s ideological positions correspond with cutting spending. But ‘lock em up and throw away the key’ costs. When Bill English called prisons a “moral and fiscal failure” his emphasis was on “fiscal”.

National is now putting $65 million into rehabilitation and reducing reoffending, which sees prisoner numbers reducing by 600 in the next five years (which will save over $60m a year by then).

The Howard League has come out in support of the move, saying it is robust and backed by evidence – how often do you hear that said about this government’s policies? Mike Williams, now working for the Howard League, offers an example of cost-effective, life-enhancing measures to curb reoffending.

So, this is a move that not only saves money but will have good outcomes for the community. And all it took was for National to turn its approach to corrections completely on its head.

The 20-year long decline in crime rates helps too.

Now, the question is: if Corrections has 8,500 people locked up and 11,000 beds, and that number is going to drop below 8,000 in the next five years, why are we spending $900 million on a 960-bed private prison?*

If they really need the beds, couldn’t the existing regional prisons that they’re planning to close be upgraded more cheaply, or are those closures needed to funnel prisoners to Wiri?

*PS can you believe they managed to blow $21m on Wiri before even accepting a tender?

12 comments on “Falling prison numbers”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    It aint going to happen. Falling prisoner numbers that is. Yes the y can juggle the ‘numbers in prison’

    I see you are still stuck on the 11000 beds meme. The actual number is still close to 8000, with double bunking adding the extras. Do you want that to continue ?

    Previously (rising) prisoner numbers predictions have all ways been less than the numbers achieved.
    National has addressed the fiscal need for more cells by double bunking which ‘solved’ the accommodation crisis.The only way to achieve the reduced numbers now ‘predicted’ is let them out early.
    That is happening to some extent by using home detention before formal parole. Expect this to explode in the next few years helped by the use solely of private contractors to monitor the home detention breaches

  2. Jackal 2

    I presume they’ve had some advice that says their social policies will create more hardship and therefore more crime… hence the preemptive building of additional jail cells. Otherwise this just looks like more incompetence from National… Wiri that is, not the rehabilitation.

    • Gosman 2.1

      Is there evidence that crime has gone up significantly since 2007?

      • Jackal 2.1.1

        Please learn the difference between the words will and has Gosman.

        • Gosman 2.1.1.1

          So why hasn’t it gone up significantly in the past 5 years do you think considering we have had a massive increase in unemployment during this time?

          • Jackal 2.1.1.1.1

            It’s more the degree of hardship I was talking about. Crime rates have been falling significantly around the world, while unemployment has been increasing. I’m not exactly sure why… but it could be something as simple as people starting to realize that crime doesn’t pay.

            • John McKenzie 2.1.1.1.1.1

              True, employment status is a predictor of offending, however a stronger one is age. The peak offending years are unsurprisingly adolescence.

              New Zealand, along with many other countries, has a skewed age/sex pyramid. So while crimes per capita may be falling (crimes / population), a more revealing calculation is instead crimes per population under 25 (crimes / population under 25).

              20 / 30 years ago baby boomers were in their peak offending years, now they’ve aged.

              • Carol

                Although, I think maybe some oldies just get into white collar crimes that go undetected.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    If they really need the beds, couldn’t the existing regional prisons that they’re planning to close be upgraded more cheaply, or are those closures needed to funnel prisoners to Wiri?

    Those closures are needed to fund private profits for NACTs mates via the new private prison in Wiri.

  4. Lanthanide 4

    “Now, the question is: if Corrections has 8,500 people locked up and 11,000 beds, and that number is going to drop below 8,000 in the next five years, why are we spending $900 million on a 960-bed private prison?*”

    Because we have some very old prisons in the country that don’t meet the requirements of the modern corrections system. Building new prisons will allow the older ones to be decommissioned. Also the new prison may be in a more favourable location compared to the old prisons.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Also the new prison may be in a more favourable location compared to the old prisons.

      Yep, placed as far away as possible from visitors…Oh, wait…

      Prisons being closed all around the country, replacement being built in Wiri.

    • Jackal 4.2

      Even if you add up all the additional prisoners from the jails they’ve announced are closing, they will still have empty cells and a capacity for 648 more inmates at Wiri… so your explanation doesn’t cut the mustard Lanthanide.

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