Prison tucker

Written By: - Date published: 1:09 pm, December 19th, 2008 - 57 comments
Categories: maori party, national/act government, prisons - Tags:

pitaWhen I saw this photo of Pita Sharples tucking into a prison meal in today’s Dom Post I was hopeful it was a stunt to try and put a stop to the mean-spirited howls from talkbackland over how prisoners have it too good at Christmas time.

But what a difference a ministerial warrant and the baubles of office make. Courtesy of No Right Turn, spot the difference between what Sharples said in April this year before he signed up with National and ACT:

“Every Christmas, there is a standard feature that grabs space in every local paper.

It’s the prison Christmas menu. Last year, incidentally, it consisted of a portion of chicken, a serving of vegetables and luxury of luxuries, a Christmas mince pie. Hardly something to get excited about one would think, but the four dollar a day diet in our penal institutions falls into the same category as a series of other items that appear to fascinate readers.

You know the stories those that ask WHY are prisoners playing petanque, watching flat-screen telly, getting access to Playstations, Xboxes, internet and benefiting from the luxury of underfloor heating?

Yet without fail, every Christmas, there are also articles missing from the paper which tell a different story than the lavish dinner in the School of Hard Knocks…

And what he said in today’s Dom Post:

Associate Corrections Minister Pita Sharples rates the Christmas meal prisoners will eat next Thursday in 20 jails as better than basic average lunchtime restaurant fare.

Dr Sharples was treated to an advance serving of the Christmas lunch the 7600 prisoners will consume when he visited Rimutaka Prison yesterday in the company of Corrections Minister Judith Collins.

Dr Sharples, also the new Maori Affairs minister, tucked into the basic Christmas luncheon of vegetables, chicken and a Christmas fruit-mince pie that the prisoners will eat.

And the verdict? “Awesome.” Dr Sharples joked he was looking to accommodate his family in a secure unit outside a New Zealand prison so he could feed them each for $4.50 a day.

Mana-enhancing? Pull the other one Pita.

57 comments on “Prison tucker”

  1. Peter Johns - bigoted troll in jerkoff mode 1

    Should be mince, bread, veges, water and vitimin pills only. This is too lavish for the crims. I want to see their food bill come down to $2/day in these hard economic times.

  2. Bill 2

    “For Ms Collins, the visit was the first official inspection of a New Zealand prison by a female corrections minister. She saw her role as an overview one…”

    Making sure Pita ate his veggies was she?

  3. So the prison meals aren’t that good?

    Prisoners should of thought that before they murdered, rape, committed child abuse, stole etc etc etc.

    I wonder what type of meal their victims are having for Xmas, oh that’s right, their victims arent having meals because they are dead.

  4. Bill 4

    “Should be mince, bread, veges, water and vitimin pills only. This is too lavish for the crims.”

    You’ll be telling that to Tony, George, John and all the others who instigated the crimes against humanity in the recent past then?

    And the thieving fucking wankers from Wall Street and their cronies? What do they deserve? Oh, that’s right. A ministerial car and all the best of the good things in life.

  5. As some may know, I have been a Corrections Officer in an NZ prison. That Xmas meal isn’t too bad, so Sharples is right. But the $4.50 / day is an average, so on other days in that week prisoners will get sandwiches that may contain a single slice of beetroot or very dry coleslaw. The evening meal may be a pile of rice with a spoonful of a vege / chicken sauce ladled over it. Filling and it doesn’t taste too bad at all, but it wouldn’t cost a $1 to make. Breakfast is a cup of tea, either porridge or cornflakes or ricies….and a couple of slices of cold toast and an apple…..and you don’t get a choice. The 250ml container of milk is expected to last you the day.

    Nutritionally, it”s not bad…..but haute cuisine it certainly isn’t. The meals are cooked and dished out onto trays by prisoners, so if no one with a communicable disease like hepatitus or HIV has interfered with it, you should remain relatively healthy.

  6. Akldnut 6

    OMG – I might commit a crime during the upcoming financial meltdown. Guarrenteed food and cheap rent, better than being on the dole! What ever happened to bread and water, or hard labour?

    captcha – autority interest

  7. Peter Johns - bigoted troll in jerkoff mode 8

    Bill – so JK used to work on Wall Street, he did not start the meltdown. Also, he won the election, thankfully Labour thought well in advance and got a car that would suit his wealth and standing, the lovely BMWs.

  8. Ianmac 9

    Having visited a prison for a few hours I am sure that the TV, food, company etc is a minimal influence. The major one is the loss of freedom. Can’t wander down to the shop. Can’t decide whether to mow the lawns or leave them for another day, or just be by self when choose to. Can’t stay up late to watch a movie, or choose which channel to watch.
    Boredom, Lack of choice. Awful.

  9. gobsmacked 10

    Some folks are missing the point of Tane’s post.

    You might think they should be on bread and water, the Christmas meal is a luxury, prisoners have it easy, etc. This would put you on the right of the political spectrum.

    Pita Sharples used to argue strongly against such views. Then he got a nice new job.

  10. Billy 11

    Surely, if he was embracing his alleged new position as the evilest sellout on the planet he’d have said the food tasted like shit and that that was a good thing.

    He’s not begruging the cons their Xmas lunch. What’s your problem?

  11. Mr Magoo 12

    I hate to say it: I told you so.

    Yep. Them baubles are right up his alley…

    And no that was not a unintentional pun.

    Its all about the children, the whanau….yeeeaaaahhhh right…

  12. gobsmacked 13


    He’s doing exactly what he previously mocked. Just read his April speech. Read what he asked the media (and public) to start thinking about, to get beyond the cliches.

    Now he has the power to lead … and he meekly follows.

  13. Kerry 14

    Eat up Pita….with any luck you and those other coalition parties end up there for real next christmas.

  14. Django 15

    Poor old Pita, he showed that which the Standard does not approve – a sense of humour.

    Let’s all be serious all the time, let’s give each other framed Marxist quotes for Xmas and moan about life endlessly.

    The left have never really got about Maori that they are not only funny, but that a sense of humour and the ridiculous is integral to everything about their lives. I guess all the patronising they have had from successive colonialist governments has ensured they needed one to survive. Why oh why must intrepid young labour (small ‘L’) spokesmen impose their Presbyterian like dourness on us at every turn? I must promise myself not to log in here until the New Year.

    By the way blogster, a sense of humour (when it is not based entirely in sarcasm a la the Cullen/Clark variety) enhances anyone’s mana in my books and when it is a politician even doubly so.

    Back to the Maori Party – isn’t life ironic – you’re damned either way if you’re them according to some here. I mean how dare they accept a cabinet post, how dare they form their own Party away from Nanny Labour, the damned cheek of those natives 😉

  15. higherstandard 16

    Oh dear Pita gets accused of being an uncle Tom for visiting prison having a bite to eat and suggesting that the Xmas fare in prisons is up to a reasonable standard and having a bit of a joke.

    A wee bit of perspective need methinks Tane.

  16. George 17

    Django, spot on. Hilarity im sure reigns when you are at the pub.

  17. gobsmacked 18


    Sharples said one thing before. He says another thing now. Do you disagree?

    The rest (“natives … uncle Tom”) is just you playing with straw.

  18. the sprout 19

    the hackneyed old righty defence when confronted with their hypocrisy:

    “you have no sense of humour”.

    always a reassuring confirmation of a hit when you get that retort.

    suck it up boys, and learn to develop a taste for it because there’s an awful lot more of that on your menu for the next 3 years.

  19. Django 20

    the sprout, the reason the right always come at the left with the “you have no sense of humour” is that it is largely true.

    Problem with the left when it comes to comedy is threefold. 1): firstly – there’s a dearth of material for starters. That’s because they won’t laugh at themselves which is a pity really because there is a hell of a lot to laugh at. So, with that left wide open it’s open season for the right. 2):Another thing about the left is fear of offending – there’s just so much you won’t lampoon for fear of upsetting some sandal wearing faction or another. 3): Then there’s a matter of time. When you’re too busy blogging endlessly,preoccupied with overthrowing capitalism, entrenching worker rights or saving whales and forests there’s not much of the day left for funnies.

    [lprent: I suspect that it has more to do with the type of humour. There are a lot of people that like American sitcoms (which I detest) and find something like this unfunny.
    “GUILLOTINE: A French chopping centre”
    (linux bash quote)
    I suspect it more the sense of humour that you have that is at fault. ]

  20. Rex Widerstrom 21

    Thanks, Steve Withers, for making several points I wanted to make about the $4.50 being an average etc. And you’re right about the food the rest of the time… one night it’s “chow mein” – watery, greasy mince with some soya sauce spooned over macaroni – the next it’s “chill con carne” – watery, greasy mince with the merest trace of hot sauce spooned over macaroni. After throwing up so many times I lost count, I’d swap my meals for a piece of fruit and a couple of slices of precious fruit bread.

    Low cost, low quality milk so lacking in calcium that I need $30,000 worth of dental work to fix up the damage. Rarely any fresh vegetables, never any salad, not much fruit.

    I lost over 20kg in a matter of months (not that I couldn’t afford to, I’d just rather have done it without the attendant ill health). And yes, it’s the prisoners with Hep C (and AIDS for all I know), who were assigned to dish up the meals in our wing!

    But I can see that this will merely provoke a barrage of ill-informed “let’s hope they all get sick and die!” commentary, ignoring the fact that most prisoners aren’t inside for murder, rape and other violent crimes. Ignoring the fact that many prisoners are on remand and thus considered innocent (as I was). Ignoring the fact that one is sent to prison as punishment, not to be punished (and that a sumptuous banquet fit for Henry VIII wouldn’t make up for being separated from family on Christmas).

    And most importantly of all, ignoring the fact that – aside from the worst, most violent recidivists – it’s a statistical fact that prisons which treat their inmates reasonably achieve much lower rates of reoffending (and thus less risk to the community) than those which punish harshly.

    But I guess the vicarious thrill of watching others suffer outweighs not only humanitarian concerns for prisoners, but actually keeping the community safe.

    Considering the ability to feel pleasure at another’s suffering is a characteristic that marks out some of our worst offenders, I have to wonder whether some people baying for harsh treatment in prisons aren’t on the wrong side of the razor wire.

    And Pita Sharples? Well golleee Missa Collins, you sure got yo’self a well behaved boy there.

  21. Peter Burns 22

    I can assure you that the mashed spuds are not recommended when certain prisoners work in the kitchen.Spoof tucker!

  22. Rex:

    The people who commit VIOLENT crimes are on the right side of the wire, the people who obey the law and don’t hurt people are also on the right side of the wire.

    Yes there a lot of people in prison for crimes that weren’t violent, but aren’t most non violent offenders getting home detention, now days?

    In terms of the violent criminals, say the few that rape and murder, its hard to feel sorry for them for getting cold mash potatoes, when their victims are dead and cant eat anything.

  23. dave 24

    Tane, do you know what “mana-enhancing” means? Doesn’t sound like it. Perhaps you can use that phrase a within a context that is a little more relevant in future.

    [Tane: Dave, I’m well aware what it means. Perhaps you should work on your comprehension skills.]

  24. Bill 25

    Rex and Steve.

    Thanks to both of you for the informative and insightful comments.

    As for Pita? Well, my impression is that Rex hit the nail on the head really. Nuff said.

  25. Rex Widerstrom 26


    One of the things I plan todo with my “leisure” time over Christmas is to do some analysis of the statistics relating to prisons. But I can’t believe there is so much violent crime in NZ that Corrections are warning the government it needs four more prisons just to accommodate the offenders… that suggests to me that police, prosecutors and judges are throwing into prison people for whom alternative outcomes would produce a better result (the policeman dressing taggers in pink vests and making them clean up their mess comes to mind. Rather than heroes for having “done time” for a few months, they look like the dickheads they are).

    One statistic I do have is that around 30 percent of people in jail are serving around 13 weeks (i.e. sentences of six months). Again it’s an assumption on my part at this stage but I very much doubt anyone’s getting a six month sentence for the kind of violent crime that I find just as abhorrent as do you.

    Rapists and murderers I’d like to see working (within a secure prison) to earn money both to pay for a nutrional diet for themselves and to generate some restitution (however inadequate) for their victims and/or victims families.

  26. QoT 27

    And Brett again illustrates the classic “Oh, not scum like YOU” defence of conservatives faced with actual people rather than the strawmen they prefer beating on.

    I just want to know what moron adviser didn’t bring up the hilariously bald-faced hypocrisy to Sharples before the visit. If I were in a more paranoid mood, I’d wonder if this were another part of the National Party Three-Year Plan to completely demolish the Maori Party’s credibility.

  27. Alexandra 28

    The point made relates to what looks like a flip flop by Pita Sharples. I dont believe that is the case, however Shaples needs to learn to avoid falling into the media agenda of his political partners. His use of humour is understandable but unwise, as it serves to reinforce the impression that he and his party, has sold out!. I dont accept the argument re; the baubles of office. Sharples has led a full life and is well educated. If making money was his priority, he has had plenty of opportunity to pursue that goal. Instead he has chosen to live his life serving the needs of his community.
    That said, I recognise the contraction with maori aspirations and the mp’s affair with the Nats. Im hoping, once the romance wears off, it will be a short lived one.

  28. Zorr 29

    “If making money was his priority, he has had plenty of opportunity to pursue that goal.”

    People don’t become politicians for the money (oh wait, 6 figure salaries… not much at all) but more for the power and ‘prestige’ that such a position provides.

    So far in all their actions the Maori Party has come out looking like a lap dog to all Nationals principles. And this flip flop by Pita Sharples was well predicted before the election. I feel sorry for all the Maori that put their faith in them and gave them their vote and now only have this hollow resemblance of a party that cares about their needs.

  29. QoT:

    Where did I say “not scum like you?”, the left has always try to interpret what the right is saying.

    I’m saying I don’t feel sorry if some violent offender has cold mash potatoes, because their victims aren’t having any because they are dead.

    If some boy racer kills someone and goes to prison, then I don’t feel sorry for them either.

    The people I feel sorry for is the people who were mentioned in the book that came out about ten years ago called, “Consenting Americans and the laws they break”

    Basically the people, who crimes had no victims, they are ones who should be sent to work and have their wages taken away to pay society.

    Please don’t put words in my mouth, I don’t do that to you.

    It has nothing to do with facing a real person, because murderers, child rapists aren’t real people.

  30. Rex Widerstrom 31


    An attitude which says “murderers, child rapists aren’t real people” is very dangerous, because they are real people, people like you and me, whether we are comfortable admitting it or not. They’re someone’s son, maybe someone’s father, husband, brother, workmate, friend.

    If we view such people as “other” we hamper our ability to identify them and perhaps intervene before they cause harm.

    And we completely destroy our ability to understand their motives and thus deter them before they offend or at least prevent them from re-offending when released.

    Take a murderer – that can be anyone from a cold-blooded killer who commited the act for financial gain to a violent psychopath to a bloke who finds his wife in bed with someone else and has a moment of madness. They’re individuals, their motives and pathologies are different, and if we don’t acknowledge that then we’re creating a timebomb for ourselves by treating the cuckolded husband the same way we treat the psychopath.

    It also totally denies the suffering they inflict on their secondary victims – their parents, siblings, children and friends who are left asking “How could I not know?” and “What could I have done to stop this?”.

    You seem to typify someone whose personal hatred of criminals blinds you to the proven advantages to society of treating them as individuals. And that doesn’t mean treating them all softly, it means treating them appropriately – and for some that might mean the kind of militaristic prison that exists in Japan (and to which Greedy Pig has helpfully provided a documentary link above) while for others it may be a restorative approach.

  31. George Darroch 32

    Brett, I won’t speak for QoT, she’e more than capable of doing that, but it’s been presented to you that “real people” are in prison.

    And that prisons that actually treat their prisoners like human beings (real people) have lower reoffending rates. That revenge fantasy that you and David Garrett indulge in might make you feel good, but it won’t help the excess victims that such a prison regime will cause.

  32. ak 33

    But I guess the vicarious thrill of watching others suffer outweighs not only humanitarian concerns for prisoners, but actually keeping the community safe.

    Thank you Rex: beautiful sentiments in above comments, and nicely put.

    If I may be so bold: resist the urge to cavort with the sewer rats at farrableugh, cultivate the sensibilities and deductions you have proffered today, and you have a great deal to offer the country yet.

    And Pita Sharples? Well golleee Missa Collins, you sure got yo’self a well behaved boy there.

  33. George: Where in my post do I have some revenge fantasy???

    Yes Prisoners should be treated humanely, they should be provided with the basics of shelter, food, water, the general public should also feel safe.

    I have also stated that no violent prisoners and people who did a crime where they was no victim should be sent to work and their wages put into society.

    Yes its a good idea to make taggers and boyracers pay for their crime and made to clean up their mess and not sent them to prison.

    Yes it must be awful for family members of the real violent criminals, but its sadder for their victims who have lost love ones, so im sorry if that makes me a bad person for not having much sympathy for a child rapist/killer who has has one slice of ham and dry coleslaw on his sandwich.

    I think the world just has bad people and no amount of help will change them, there was another book I read called “The Blank Slate, the denial of human nature”

    Basically it argued the old thing of Nature versus nurture.

    It focused on two brothers, one was the dean of a college the other was a serial killer.

    A good read.

  34. Ianmac 35

    The way a particular society treats its aged or young or its criminals is indicative of the whole society. So I look at not just the convicted who are presumably dealt to by a robust system.
    I have a hard look at those in society who always seek revenge and punishment. Sensible ST. They reflect a punitive society which is a sure sign of a sick part of society. There are some groups of folk who are victims or the family of victims who are able to live in forgiveness. They stand out as an ideal. (I am an agnostic so I don’t mean in a biblical sense!) Otherwise unforgiving chews up the unforgiver and probably those around him/her.

  35. RedLogix 36

    It has nothing to do with facing a real person, because murderers, child rapists aren’t real people.

    This sentence expresses what is called “dehumanisation”. Humans use this mechanism to justify the otherwise unpalatable or barbaric treatment we visit upon those whom we regard as outsiders, outlaws or enemies. By stripping the “krauts”, the “gooks” or “charlies” of their innate status as fellow humans, the soldier in battle assuages (often just temporarily) the promptings of his conscience. By dehumanising those who have committed offenses against us, we can indulge and justify all manner of retribution (both real and emotive) against them, again without feeling too much in the way of shame.

    It is an easy, slippery step, especially in troubled times when passions are aroused, to move from dehumanising the murderer, the rapist and such… to dehumanising those who offend us with their political opinions, their race, culture, sexuality and so on.

  36. Taane 37

    [lprent: yourself dad or none else?]

  37. Taane 38

    Redlogix – apologistic psycho babble mate.

    Society sets rules to protect the majority. Its called survival of the species. Scum like that deserve to be dehumanised.

  38. Ianmac 39

    Redlogix: Well said. More succinct than my effort but great.

    By the way off topic don’t know where to put this, but did you see that the November figure for immigration to Australia has gone UP from 27,200 last November to 35,300 this year. Does that mean that the prospect of a certain win for Nat/Act caused even more people to leave? Or else as always the politics probably have nothing to do with it but lets beat the Governmint with their own stick????

  39. RedLogix 40


    And I recall many years ago a rather well known barrister speaking on his retirement. The man had defended many high profile murderers. In his experience the huge majority of people (about 85%) convicted of homocide (murder/manslaughter etc) were just ordinary people who had been entangled in extraordinary circumstances which had led them to commit a tragic act. An act that they were never likely to repeat in their lives.

    He thought only a small minority of killers were irredemmably evil people, people with no shame or conscience, psychopaths and moral cripples who represented an ongoing danger to society all their lives.

    It is the role of the individual to forgive and offer compassion, the role of society to administer justice and impose punishment. The most frequent mistake made is to invert these roles.

    (PS As Taane is making right now. In his mindless hatred, for that is what it is, he places himself on the same low moral plane as those he professes to loath.)

  40. For myself, prison should be about keeping the public safe, and there are some prisoners who should always be kept away from the public because they will never rehabilitate.

  41. Rex Widerstrom 42


    Thank you for such kind words. It is, therefore, churlish of me to point out that by characterising everyone who comments at Kiwiblog as “sewer rats” you’re indulging in just the sort of dehumanising process Red Logix talks about above 😛 😉

    I genuinely find a great deal of good sense and stimulating opinion there, as I do here. Then again, I also find Redbaiter and randal and rave, all of whom provide a sort of looking glass into a parallel universe where the Cold War is still hot, the Summer of ’69 still shines, and absolutes are the Only True Way 🙂

    Meanwhile Taane says:

    Society sets rules to protect the majority. Its called survival of the species.

    Yes it does. It does not, however, follow that those rules are always right. If, as your nick suggests, you’re of Maori heritage you might like to reflect on the “rules” that were applied to your ancestors by some of the early Governors of New Zealand. If you’re not, there are plenty of other examples of “majority rules” that were wrong, from apartheid to the Final Solution.

    (No, I haven’t descended into Godwinism… both those things are immeasurably worse than bad prisons policy. That’s the point – they too were strongly supported by societies which saw them as vital for their respective survival).

  42. Greedy Pig 43

    How is the deterrence value of our prison system measured?
    Or is that question loaded with assumptions and values we don’t approve of? I recall reading Rufus Marsh saying he “liked Paremaremo” (north and South).

  43. RedLogix 44


    Of course prisons are at one level about keeping the public safe. But the fact is that the majority of people in them are perfectly harmless. Only a small minority of criminals are dangerous recividists.

    I’ve encountered many, many people who express the same feelings you have, that all criminals are ‘scum’ and deserve neither sympathy nor forgiveness. This is an understandable instinctive reaction to those who hurt or threaten us. In a primitive world, we react to threat with counterattack. It is wired into our emotional selves to dehumanise outlaws, outsiders and enemies so that we can carry out these counterattacks more efficiently. In the modern context, this means celebrating the conviction of the guilty and taking pleasure in exacting a revenge upon them.

    The danger of emotionally driven revenge is that it so readily steps beyond legitimate retribution, to committing new acts of injustice itself. And in doing so perpetuates endless cycles of attack and revenge, locking generations into hatred and destruction.

    One of the critical developments of civilisation is the notion of forgiveness and openess to the the possibilities of reconciliation and redemption. These are rational (as distinct from emotional) notions that act as circuit breakers to endless cycles of hatred. The victim of injustice who overcomes their natural hurt and grief to forgive their oppressor is not only cleansing themselves of toxic emotions, but serving the wider good of society as well. The implicit trade-off that we make is this; civilisation requires that we abdicate our personal desire for retribution, and entrust instead the institutions of society to impose justice on our behalf.

    But mostly I find that the “hang the scum high” brigade lack honesty. The reason is this; that they lack self-reflection to understand that most people who commit horrible crimes are in truth just ordinary people, people we grew up with, people who could have been family, friends or workmates. Most of us are deeply unwilling to understand or admit that but for a few changes in circumstances, a few wrong chances and choices in our own lives, that in our own fall from grace each one of us is equally capable of committing the unthinkable.

    This is the insight that stays the hand of revenge and stills the bitter winds of hatred; frees the victim from the burden of hurt and opens the door for accountability, due punishment and justice.

    PS Rex I really liked your rather more pragmatic argument above… 🙂

  44. Ianmac 45

    Redlogix: Good stuff. Think of those communities who never forgive like I imagine many who live in Ireland. Look how badly the longterm resentment festered, and the societal damage that ensued. Must be heaps who call for vengance utu for generations of ill-will. So where do the SST and ilk fit in to a healthy society?

  45. Greedy Pig 46

    People have been managing their communities for a long time and developed something called “social intelligence”. There needs to be a point of difference a set of boundaries and meaningful consequences.
    We all suffer for your efforts, ding -dongs.

  46. QoT 47

    Brett, it’s the point at which you go from “Prisoners should have thought of that before they committed crime” to “VIOLENT criminals”, right after someone, eloquently, calmly, and clearly from the freedom of their own home or office, relates their experience of prison meals.

    That’s when one is always guaranteed a quick sleight-of-hand, pretend-you-meant-something-else change of heart. “Oh, no, Rex, not prisoners like YOU. Just the VIOLENT ones, and quick, let me make the huge assumption that the nice crims – the ones like YOU, Rex – all get home detention these days anyway! Whew, hope no one noticed that gigantic change in tone once I was called on my generalising bullshit.”

  47. Ianmac 48

    QoT: Hear Hear. Big tick!

  48. QOT:

    When I talk of criminals that who I mean, I dont mean some hippy who may be in jail because he smoked dope.

  49. Rex Widerstrom 50


    Well I quite liked your eloquent plea that we seek for the best in ourselves in the hope that it will instil the best in others 🙂 In fact I plan to plagiarise vast tracts of it the next time I’m asked to speak at a Prison Reform Group conference 😀


    I’ve been occasionnaly called nice and sometimes called a criminal but never in the same sentence. Thank you. I think 😀

  50. Sharples appears to have a history of trying to be constructive. The way I understand that, you take the good bits and start from there, trying to expand them and add to them as best and as far as you are able. This is true of almost everything we do in any context. If we aren’t doing that, we are doing it wrong….and whether we want to admit that or not, reality won’t care.

    I won’t slag Sharples yet. Looks to me like he is being contractive. In Opposition, he rightly did his job and criticised. Now, in supporting this government, he appears to be being constructive.

    They may be lead onward and onward by National with the promise of progress tomorrow if they will only just support this – whatever – today.

    Time will tell how well he and the others do.

    As for prisons, one last comment. The food isn’t very good, as Rex says, but rest assured it is the BEST part of being in prison. You’re in there with some of the worst arse holes NZ can muster…and you spend most of the 5-6 hours you’re not locked in your cell each day in their company. Gangs, bullies, killers…..the lot.

    For many prisoners, when they get locked for supper each day, it means they’ve made it through another day in one piece.

    In prison, the arseholes thrive while the rest survive. “Namby-pamby” it isn’t. That would be a view held by the arrogant ignorant…..who are almost always wrong, I’ve been discovering daily for several years now.

    National can say whatever they like. In the end, reality doesn’t give a rat’s. So it was in 1999…and so it will be in the future as long as they ignore reality: how people really behave, what people really need.

  51. Rex Widerstrom 52

    Thanks again, Steve, for insight from someone who’s seen the inside of prison from the other perspective. Perhaps we should go on a joint speaking tour? 😀

    I just wish the NZ media, instead of swallowing both major party’s “all criminals are scum, we’re tougher than the other lot on law ‘n’ order” bullshit, would write some stuff like this in The Weekend Australian today. An extract:

    As uniformed guards pound the grey concrete walkways of the Northern Territory’s largest prison, a man calls out from the jail’s isolation block.

    His name is Adrian Faulton. He is a severely intellectually disabled young Aboriginal man from Wadeye with the mental age of a toddler. For months the 25-year-old has been locked in a small concrete cell in A block, the most austere unit of Darwin’s overflowing Berrimah Prison Since the age of 15, he has committed crimes ranging from stealing to drinking in public, escalating as he got older to low-range sexual assault and indecent exposure

    The only alternative available to the public guardian in guaranteeing community safety is a 22-hour lockdown of a brain-damaged young man who is becoming more distressed by the day.

    “When getting out?’ Mr Faulton asks of anyone who will talk to him. He spends his hours pacing back and forth in his cell, periodically asphyxiating himself as a distraction from the blank horror of his days, squeezing his throat with his thumb and shutting off the airway.

    Most nights, his wailing resounds in the isolation wing.

    “On Monday1 December, Mr Faulton’s mother visited him and she spent the entire visit weeping and attempting to hold him He appeared confused during this process. After she departed he was observed at his worst, whereby he fell down on his hands and knees in the yard and literally wailed and sobbed in what appeared to be a helpless and painful manner.

    “He called out to ‘go home, please, please’ for approximately 30 minutes after his mother departed.’

    I really truly wish I could take some of the “hang ’em high” brigade on a walk through our prisons, not just an arms-length inspection but a sit down with the prisoners and the COs. If they didn’t come out of that experience with some compassion, then I really would have to question whether the right people are on the inside of the institutions.

  52. Surly he belongs in a mental hospital?

  53. RedLogix 54


    Deficient Diet.

    Fatherless boys.

    Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

    Brain Damage, Drugs, Mental Illness.

    Babies born into this world, fated before they reach even school, to be ‘prison tucker’.

    If only, if only somehow we I had the guts to genuinely change these things, we would be closing prisons, not planning to build more of these evil god-forsaken places.


    Read the whole article and weep.

  54. Rex Widerstrom 55

    Correct, Brett. But from the article again:

    The most critical of Darwin’s mentally ill prisoners find beds in one of two units: the Joan Ridley Unit and the Cowdy ward, both at Royal Darwin Hospital. The units have 26 beds in total, and the dire shortage means that many of the mentally ill find themselves locked in isolation in prison.

    And if the mental health system failed him, then perhaps some community group may be able to help, if only the NT Police and “justice” system would stop sticking people in jail at the behest of their political masters:

    The NT Government’s focus on mandatory sentencing for violent assaults reached fever pitch during this year’s election campaign, when the Government promised mandatory sentencing for any assault intended to cause harm – a definition so broad that lawyers questioned whether one punch could result in a jail term.

    So as a result:

    …there has been a 25 percent increase in summary prosecutions in the NT in the past year, but no commensurate increase in the prosecution of more serious offences.

    People in prison for trivial, mostly non-violent (or low level violent) offences. And being treated like “scum” because the public are too conditioned to think of all prisoners as being represented by the handful of sadistic, violent thugs who make the newspapers.

    That “fever pitch” came from a Labor Government desperate to hang on to power, by the way. Sickeningly, all the Liberals did was try and outbid them by promising even greater inhumanity.

  55. Bill 56

    It crosses my mind that the ‘tough on crime’ b/s might be best viewed in terms of the 20/80 model for society. I came across the concept in a book some years ago. Apparently a conference attended by, among others, Gorbachev and Thatcher put forth the idea that the good things of society ( education, health care etc) would be accessible to 20% of the population while the other 80% would be largely excluded. Their role would be ‘to get by’, produce and provide the services for the 20% while being subjected to ‘appropriate’ measures of state control.

    At the time, I skimmed through the book and did wonder whether it was actually for real. As time has passed and the 3rd World appears more and more to begin not too far from our own doorstep rather than being firmly located beyond our national borders, I wish I could relocate the book and give it closer attention.

    Social provisions are deteriorating in the west and access to them becoming ever more difficult. Meanwhile prison populations appear to be ‘blowing out’ in many countries and this ‘tough on crime’ mantra taken as ‘a given’ in country after country.

    Going through a list of social indicators ( levels of homelessness, mental health provisions, reemergence of poverty related diseases and illnesses in the west, generational decrease in relative wealth for the majority, falling life expectancy) …I see a general pattern; a path being mapped out.

    Maybe the 20/80 divide was one journalists imagination or vision. Maybe my initial reaction to the book was correct; that he was inventing events such as the conference he said took place. Regardless.

    Positive social provisioning gets further from being universal rather than closer as time passes while negative social factors increase (prisons, measures of control, propagation of fear through propaganda) . In short, the general welfare of populations appears to be degrading.

    Put in the context of what could well be a sort of endless grinding recession ( where’s the next stimulatory bubble coming from? The necessary finite resources are at what state of depletion/ degradation?) and the future may well become a struggle against the setting of that division between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’; a pulling up of the ladders by the ‘haves’ in an attempt to preserve the fruits of capitalism for themselves while the rest are consigned to something far less desirable.

    Food for thought perhaps? Anyway, must go and ‘kick an employer in the head’. Happy Monday!

  56. uroskin 57

    Pita bread and water, merry xmas

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