GUEST BLOG: Arthur Taylor – why make prisoners suffer?

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Aotearoa New Zealand is generally a great country to live in, overseas visitors unfailingly comment on how friendly and helpful the people are. There’s not many kiwis that go without the basic necessities of life – shelter, adequate clothing,  and food. We pride ourselves on giving everyone a ‘fair go’.

So what is it that causes the otherwise tolerant and generous society that is NZ to have such deep seated urge to punish?

Fot at least the past 20 years there seems to have been a race between politicians of all persuasions to see who can put the most people in prison for the longest time and once having got them there, who can make the already miserable enough lives of prisoners more miserable still. As a result we have the second highest imprisonment rate (behind only the United States) in the Western World – the countries we like to compare ourselves with.

While our politicians are winning the imprisonment stakes , they are losing on almost every other front that denotes a decent inclusive society – one where citizens who have far more than they need accept they have a social duty to assist less well off fellow citizens, especially our precious children who needlessly suffer in a relatively wealthy country because their parents are unable or unwilling to provide them with a good start in life.

There’s no doubt that since the disastrous ‘Rogernomics’ economic policies of the 80s, we have become a less caring, less generous , more greedy country. The John Key Government seems more concerned with looking after foreigners and overseas big business interests than those of its own citizens. A good example is the enormous sums of taxpayer dollars poured into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan  that have nothing to do with us but a refusal to spend a relatively trifling sum to ensure all school kids received a proper breakfast and/or lunch. John Key doesn’t seem to care that the American and British Tory businessmen he admires so much  by and large do provide free school meals for their children.

Same with his dismissal of Russel Norman’s suggestion we print money to stimulate the economy  creating more jobs and liquidity in the economy to stimulate economic activity. “Funny money”, he says , when he knows the US whom he so admires, was printing $70Billion a month to stimulate its economy, and the British and Japanese were doing the same. Recently the European Central Bank announced it was going to commence “qualitative easing”, printing billions of Euro’s to stimulate the economy.

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This week I was in the Auckland High Court up against a top legal counsel-Crown law (the Government’s lawyers) and John Key’s lawyers. Incidentally it was the first time a PM has been hauled before the Court on such charges.

Of course the usual screams from the right wing talkback hosts were forthcoming – principally strident demands to know why I was ‘getting legal aid’ etc etc. Well, I wasn’t getting legal aid, the case – which took 3 days sitting to nearly 6pm on Wednesday night – was an election petition. You can’t get legal aid, I handled the case entirely myself and the reason I’ve gone to so much trouble is to protect the integrity of our electoral system. I believe that it is fundamentally wrong for a Parliament whose sovereign law making power is justified on democratic grounds to destroy democracy by removing the vote from a section of society.

I told the Judges that the target was prisoners in 2010, next year it could be the beneficiaries , the year after that anyone earning less than $20 000. I made the point that our MPs don’t rule over us  by some divine right  and that if they weren’t going to responsibly  exercise their powers to govern the people have vested  in them then the Rule of Law required the Courts to tell them that there were certain limits beyond which they would not be permitted to go, constitution or no constitution.

I reminded the Court that that prisoners are liable for the same tax as any other citizens, including GST and the American Revolution came about on the rallying cry of ‘no taxation without representation”.

 

Arthur Taylor is serving time for drug and firearm offences, kidnapping and twice escaping from custody. He has taken the Government to court several times for their treatment of prisoners. 

8 COMMENTS

  1. You ask ” why make prisoners suffer? ”

    Because we’re cruel, vengeful fools and those attitudes are promoted by the Banking and Insurance sector. That’s why .

    The last thing the massive Global insurance industry wants is for crime free societies . The last thing Banks want is for peace and harmony to reign supreme because there’d be no need for instant gratification to give as respite from the miseries we bring down on ourselves when we pointlessly toil for their profits .

    The very last thing an insurance / banker lobbyist would want is if suddenly their product became redundant through crime stats becoming so low that self-insurance became popular .

    The last thing a politician would want is if those same lobbyists stopped swipe-carding their way into parliament with promises of riches and inducements .

    I’ve seen kids go to prison and come out as hard little bastards with very good albeit very dubious connections . And for every act of anti social behaviour ? There is an insurance claim lodged . Ask any cop ?

    The insurance industry ? After the Ch Ch earthquakes, my house insurance tripled ? I’m 485 km from Ch Ch ? The Insurance Industry is experiencing record profits ?
    The Ch Ch earthquakes , it could be argued , was an act of God . God committed an outrageous act of vandalism for no other reason than for fun . The prison system is stuffed with such miscreants but it is the Insurance Industry who make money from God and his flock .

    So , there’s God , hangin’ with his Ho’s and Bro’s fuckin’ shit up for shits and giggles ( What does that actually mean ? ) and when that becomes a societal pattern the Insurance Industry comes along to make money from it .
    I can smell the hair burning on the skulls of the Right Wing linnear thinkers out there who will be blessing their insurance companies for their good fortune at getting huge pay-outs for old , shitty buildings . Others will be knee deep in money from being able to rort their neighbours for rents previously only dreamed of . A three bedroom house in dingy Avon Side for $1200.00 a week . Sweet aye ? Go the insurers right ?
    Now , if I were an Insurance Company ? I’d like that trend . And I’d work with those who might expand that trend to the greater community . It’s common sense isn’t it ? And good business surely ?
    See ? This’s what you get when you involve business in personal community matters like crime and criminals . Like health and education . Like banking in fact . You get awful people scheming to make money out of human misery . That , Ladies , Gentlemen , Children , Animals and plants is called Neo Liberalism . Thank you roger douglas . That you very bloody much .

  2. Excellent blog Arthur. Have you considered doing a regular post? Updates on your cases and of course areas of public interest. I am particularly interested in myth busting some of the “holiday camp” narrative. Im particularly interested in things like your ability to access education and training in different security areas.

    Keep it coming buddy!

  3. Is it true that when people are released from prison they get a payment from winz, then an automatic 21 week standdown?

    • No its a one week stand down and if you get the steps to freedom it is $150 minus any money in youre account do you have a problem with that?????

  4. No i dont have a problem with that. What i would have a problem with is if the people being released from prison have no way of supporting themselves and are then reduced to committing crimes to feed or house themselves. I heard this is what happened and after inquiring at the relevant department 3 times i was given 3 different answers.

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