Collins celebrating overcrowded prisons

It’s absurd that the Justice Minister is pretending that packing more people into overcrowded prisons is a strategic solution, when she should be trying to address the reasons why increasing numbers of Kiwis are being incarcerated, the Green Party said today.

Minister Collins has this morning issued a press release announcing increased “double bunking” and growing the size of our prisons to meet the out of control demand that her Government has helped created.

“Hearing Minister Collins’ comments about squeezing more and more people into prison cells is particularly galling,” Green Party justice spokesperson David Clendon said today.

“Prisons bursting at the seams is a symptom of the Government’s systemic failures, not its successes.

“It’s farcical for the Minister to say that they have made progress in reducing crime numbers while she is scrambling to find room for all the people being locking up.

“The Government is continuing to underinvest in any long term strategic way to address the drivers of crime. One-off ‘windfall’ funds to drug and alcohol treatment agencies is a stop gap, not a solution.

“Mental health facilities are also under-resourced nationally, and police cells and the prison service are becoming ‘de facto’ repositories for people who should be receiving care, not punishment.

“We need to take this chance to have a complete rethink about how we manage our prison systems in New Zealand so that they are part of reducing crime in our communities, not just a place to hold more and more people who need our help.

“Waikeria is not ‘close’ to anywhere as the Minister asserts. It’s disingenuous of her to suggest siting the prison there will enable family and support networks to maintain contact.

“Double bunking is not a solution; increasing the number of beds while not adding to the other facilities a prison needs merely causes overcrowding, increases stress and violence levels at prisons,” said Mr Clendon.

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