Tag Archives: Prisons

Lock ‘Em Up and Throw Away the Solutions

National Party image, [CC BY 3.0 nz], via Wikimedia Commons.
The Prime Minister Bill English equipped himself admirably to well-trodden law and order election politics last week, as he bolstered police ranks by another 1100 officers. This Safer Communities package was dovetailed with strong messages, not least that the world doesn’t owe anyone ‘a living’. Instead, families and communities must ‘continuously adapt’ and resiliently engage in ‘quiet heroism’ as a response to increasing economic precariousness. The expectation is that everyone – including those with health or disability issues – ‘can live independently’.

We are also entering, it appears, a new era of state interventions. Mirroring practices from the late 1950s to the early 1980s – the horrific experiences and legacies of which largely remain shielded from public view – the government is targeting ‘problem’ children and their families for processing. We will deal, once and for all, with the ‘regulars in the government system’. Welfare dependents had better look out, as might our new economic risks: the thousand or so five year olds whose sorry lives are each destined to cost us well over quarter a million dollars. Continue reading Lock ‘Em Up and Throw Away the Solutions

More Prison Beds not the Answer…

Photo: Matthias Muller. Republished under a Creative Commons licence.
Photo: Matthias Muller. Republished under a Creative Commons licence.

Lessons from Youth Justice

In October 2016, the NZ government announced plans to spend a billion dollars on more prison beds. They say it’s needed to cope with forecast rises in the prison muster – as if increases were a force of nature, like a storm or earthquake. As Finance Minister Bill English put it: “this is something that has to be done. We have to provide the capacity. We’d certainly prefer to be in a position where this wasn’t happening…”

But there is nothing inevitable about building more prisons. We have already opened five in a decade and doubled the number of beds, and the system is filled to overflowing.

It’s time to start making different choices. Continue reading More Prison Beds not the Answer…

Prisons: Places of Harm and Dehabilitation

Dr David Scott
Dr David Scott

On the 4th October UK Justice Secretary, Liz Truss, delivered her speech Prisons: places of safety and reform to the 2016 Conservative Party Conference. For Truss the UK ‘justice system’ is “incorruptible” and “the best in the world”. If we follow the principles of meritocracy, it will become a “justice system of all talents” that “works for everyone” providing “justice for all”. Although Truss digresses away from prisons (to talk about the courts and a new Bill of British Rights) her central arguments focus on how the Conservative government is “going to make prisons work”. Sadly her speech is nothing but the same old story, harking back to the “making prisons work” rhetoric employed by Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw in 1997, as well as regurgitating an idea with a 200 year record of abject failure. Continue reading Prisons: Places of Harm and Dehabilitation