Reducing Prison Numbers

post by  Sophie Young

New Zealand prisons are full. New Zealanders are debating whether to build more prisons and lock away more criminals, or to somehow reduce the numbers of prisoners. We have the seventh-highest prison population rate in the OECD, with 155 prisoners per 100,000 population (Stats NZ). We also have statistical evidence suggesting institutional racism. In 2016, Māori made up 15% of the general population and 55.6% of people receiving prison sentences (Johnston, 2016).

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Babies behind bars

post by Princess Leia

For a number of years, the practice of ‘babies behind bars’ has grown in popularity. This phenomenon has been increasing over the past ten years in many different countries, including America and the United Kingdom. Netflix has even released a documentary about one of these occurrences in the United States. The situations always play out relative to mothers and babies within female prisons. In the UK, the units cater for mothers with babies under the age of eighteen months as women who either give ‘birth in prison or have a child under 18 months old they can apply to bring their child to prison with them’.

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Prisons almost reaching full capacity and offender rates continue to rise

post by Joe Bloggs

There has been a political dilemma held by the current New Zealand government over whether to build a ‘mega-prison’ that will be able to hold an additional 3000 offenders. New Zealand is already home to 15 male prisons and 3 female prisons that total almost 11,000 inmates and continues to rapidly increase. The debate over whether the build should go ahead has gained strong public opinions, both for and against the potential Waikeria landmark. Prisoner numbers are so close to maximum capacity that those who are remanded and sentenced are having to be held within police cells. And with public perceptions that prisoners are “dangerous” citizens and should be confined to prevent committing crimes (Clear & Schrantz, 2011) an urgent decision needs to be made on the way forward.

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