New Zealand has one of the highest rates of imprisonment in the world, and an international study has just highlighted the fact:
Politicians cuffed for filling jails
A political bidding war between the main parties to prove who is tougher on crime has led to New Zealand having one of the world’s highest rates of imprisonment, an international study has found.
OK – sorry to interrupt so soon, but this annoys me. Yes it’s mostly the politicians’ fault, but the media can’t escape their share of the blame for this. It is the media that sensationalises crime, uncritically repeats the nonsense claims and “tough on crime” rhetoric, and generally plays the part of enabler to our high prison rates. (Even the author of the piece quoted here has been known to buy in to this game for example.) It would have been nice to see some acknowledgement in this piece that the problem goes a long way beyond “the main parties”. Anyway, back to…
The comparative study of 11 countries’ justice systems found New Zealand’s is racist and punitive and imprisons people at a rate second only to the United States.
The United Kingdom Audit Office study looked at New Zealand, Australia, the US, France, Canada and the Netherlands among others.
It found New Zealand imprisoned offenders at a rate of 199 for every 100,000 of the population, second only to the US at 748. That is 25 per cent higher than England and Wales, and 33 per cent higher than Australia.
Between 2005 and 2008 New Zealand’s rate of imprisonment rose by 15 per cent despite the crime rate only rising by 4 per cent over the same period.
I was disappointed at the extent to which the last Labour government played the “tough on crime” card too, but when it comes to beating up hysteria on the issue it is John Key who really takes the cake. There are also questions as to how much the high incarceration rate feeds in to what some are calling “National’s Private Prison Industry Profiteers“. Hmmmm.
Crime is the child of poverty, and there is too much poverty in this country. Until we focus on acknowledging and dealing with that underlying issue, and until we mature enough as a society to focus on rehabilitation rather than retribution, our high prison rates are going to continue.