National needs to get smart on crime & punishment

The Green Party is calling on National to get smart on crime and invest more in rehabilitation services to help reduce re-offending.

The Green Party is calling on National to get smart on crime and invest more in rehabilitation services to help reduce re-offending.

The call comes after revelations today of a prison budget blow-out caused by more than a 700-person increase in the prison population in the past year.

“This Budget blow-out is another sign that National’s approach to crime and corrections is not working,” said Green Party Corrections spokesperson David Clendon.

“National is locking up more people than ever before and not increasing the spend on rehabilitation programmes to match, which means more reoffending and a greater overall cost to society.

“Minister Collins needs to take responsibility for the extra $41 million that will be spent this year just to house our prison population, in addition to the $900 million already in this year’s Budget.

“As Minister of Justice, Judith Collins passed a number of drastic laws which have directly resulted in an increase in the number of prisoners.

“Most of the people affected by the changes to bail laws are remand prisoners, who have yet to be sentenced. Forcing people to spend more time in jail waiting to be sentenced does not drastically reduce re-offending, but increases costs and risks for Corrections staff.

“It’s outrageous that National has allocated $10 million less to rehabilitation services than what was budgeted for in 2015, at a time when the prison population is higher than ever.

“National claims that it will reduce reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017. It is difficult to see how this will be achieved when they are cutting funding to services like Circles of Support and Accountability, which helps prevent re-offending by sex offenders.

“Similar services in Canada have been found to reduce the likelihood of re-offending by around 75 per cent.

“If National really wants to reduce re-offending then they need to prioritise funding for programmes which really make a difference, not just lock people up for longer and spend more money expanding prisons,” said Mr Clendon.

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