Nats kill another crim rehabilitation scheme

Written By: - Date published: 12:20 am, March 5th, 2010 - 16 comments
Categories: crime, prisons - Tags: ,

When National came into power I thought that at least they had a relatively good policy on prisoner rehabilitation:

“At present, 43% of prisoners (and 65% of prisoners under 20) re-offend within a year of release. For too many criminals, a prison sentence is not an end to their offending just an enforced career break.

It is a waste of resources to let offenders serve their time without challenging them to change their behaviour, only to release them and throw them back into prison again when they reoffend.

That will mean more victims.

If we want to reduce crime rates, imprisonment should not be seen only as a punishment, but also an opportunity to rehabilitate a captive audience through work, drug, and alcohol treatment, and other programmes that offer alternatives to a life of crime.”

It sounds like good sensible stuff. National promised to:

  • Double the number of prisoners who are able to receive drug and alcohol treatment to 1,000 by 2011.
  • Boost the number of prisoners learning industry-based skills through Corrections Inmate Employment by 1,000 prisoners by 2011.
  • Re-visit the rules around eligibility for rehabilitation programmes, and investigate the development of completion programmes in the community for offenders who are released before they have finished.
  • Expand literacy programmes so more prisoners leave prison able to read, write, and do maths better than when they entered.

Well that was then. And now that National is in power all those promises are out the window.

Far from expanding rehabilitation programmes, National has just taken the axe to one of the longest running and most successful programmes in the country.

For just $2.4 million a year, the Prisoners’ Aid and Rehabilitation Society and its 500 volunteers help 25,000 inmates and ex-inmates with rehabilitation and readjustment each year. They provide a wide range of services that help to keep prisoners in touch with their communities and help them adjust on their return to the outside world. Their efforts help turn people away from crime and give them other opportunities.

All for the price of $2.4 million, just a rounding error for one of Steven Joyce’s white elephant motorways. Yet Judith Collins has cut the funding and that will kill PARS.

There seems to be no reason for Collins’ actions except for sheer bloody vindictiveness.

Without help getting back into normal life, more ex-cons will end up on the dole and more will end up getting into trouble, committing crimes, and going back to prison.

For the sake of $2.4 million, we’ll end up bearing a greater cost at many different levels.

That’s National for you. They haven’t changed and they’re not ‘pragmatists’ who do what works. They’re ideologues. When it comes to crime all they believe in doing is putting the boot in harder even though it doesn’t stop crime. They will even cancel funding for programmes that do stop crime and successfully rehabilitate people out of sheer spite and blind ideology.

Now we can look forward to more crime and more Kiwis wasting their potential locked up in prison. And Judith Collins will consider that to be success.

16 comments on “Nats kill another crim rehabilitation scheme”

  1. More victims, more votes.

  2. Rex Widerstrom 2

    No matter whether you think sentences are too short; no matter whether you think parole is too easy, or ought to be abolished altogether; no matter whether you think our prisons are “holiday camps”, you have to acknowledge the truth that, eventually, a prisoner is going to be released.

    When he or she is, they’re entering a world which, for many of them, is alien. A lot can change in just a few years – governments, laws, technology, entitlements, the job market, skills, rules…

    PARS’ volunteers work with prisoners to ensure they have the best possible start. Or, if you want to flip that over and look at it from the other perspective – much less of an excuse for failing and reoffending.

    It’s impossible to exaggerate the importance of having someone to whom a released prisoner can turn to for advice and support.

    This is the single most stupid decision by Collins to date. Quite simply, it places more New Zealanders in greater danger of being the victims of crime.

    Like you, Eddie, I thought National’s prisoner rehabilitation policy “tough but fair” – pragmatic, as you put it. It seemed to be informed by some understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

    I’ll await, therefore, the outcry from the Sensible Sentencing Trust. Indeed perhaps some of the mystery funding it receives could be spent supporting the work of PARS. That would show them to be genuinely concerned about reducing recidivism, and not just creating victims to feed their agenda.

    Surely there’s a philanthropic organisation, or individual philanthropist, who can step up? The alternative is chaos.

  3. Stever 3

    A quote from Michael Foot (about Margaret Thatcher) which sums up, for me, so many like Judith Collins:

    “She has no imagination and that means no compassion”

  4. survivor of violent crime 4

    what i don’t get is they cut 2.4m here, cut 18m for adult education etc etc, and can magically find many millions for a Party Central for the Rugby World cup

    a cynic might say they like the mantra ‘control through fear’

  5. tc 5

    More of the same luddite behaviour from the ‘Born to Rule’ set….love the Foot quote on Thatcher, could equally apply to Tolley/Bennett/Wilkinson so you can see the calibre of females attracted like moths to the bright flame of being a minister…….burn babies burn.

    • A Nonny Moose 5.1

      Are you saying that ALL women in parliament/who are ministers are baby eating power hungry monsters, or just right wing/conservatives/NACT women?

      • Yup just the right wing ones, who put on aires and graces and talk like they have something caught in their throats, but who cant handle their port folios and admit to having sex in the back seats of holden’s. We know who they are. Just those ones.

        Love MF quote about Thatcher by the way, says a lot in so few words!

  6. Janice 6

    We also need to keep up the supply of prisoners to fill our private prison contracts. Rehabilitation runs down the stock.

    • Pete G 6.1

      That’s a good way to turn a thread of valid criticism into a nutter’s cringe.

      • Yes and no, you have to admit that it is not rational for a private prison operator to rehabilitate themselves out of business.

        • Rex Widerstrom

          Unless, like some contracts in the UK and at least one I know of in Australia, they are paid a “trailing commission” on prisoners… the longer one of their “graduates” stays out of trouble on release, the more they make.

          Plus, of course, the imposition and monitoring of stringent rules on the running of rehabilitative programs. In the UK I believe they’re even obligated to provide an aftercare service similar to PARS, thus integrating what happens in prison, on parole, and afterwards.

          It’s not prison ownership that’s the issue, it’s the reigning government’s view of offenders and their understanding of what really keeps the community safe.

  7. tc 7

    It’s directed at Johnny Clowns choice of female cabinet members, I’ve not been impressed with any of them either knowing about their portfolios or caring if they leave it better than they found it…Bennett being an oustanding example of how to portray an image of ‘bash the beneficiaries’ and when challenged leaks deatails she’s privvy to as minister……Shameful.

    Helen had plenty of competant female minsters….I don’t include King in that bracket though for the record.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    There seems to be no reason for Collins’ actions except for sheer bloody vindictiveness.

    It was an example of the community working and the RWNJs in NACT couldn’t have that.

    For the sake of $2.4 million, we’ll end up bearing a greater cost at many different levels.

    And boosting the profits of the privatised prisons.

  9. Rob M 9

    As easy as falling for an ideologue . . . another election, another bunch of boomer chumps duped by National – “Whatever happened to the decent society we grew up in?”

  10. One day these people will come out and they will live next door to somebody. In terms of cost, how much is it costing to reinvent Auckland? Penny wise, pound foolish.

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