If this weren’t so insane, I’d cry…
In a new policy announced yesterday ACT said prisoners should be given time off their sentences for learning to read and write.
Labour’s corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis said the policy had merit on the surface because too many people were being imprisoned.
But he said the ACT Party also introduced the three-strikes policy, which was about locking people up.
So after building the Prison Empire that we now suffer under, ACT have decided the skyrocketing prison population is a damaging social cancer and are suggesting if Prisoners learn reading or writing the will get an early release.
Lovely to see ACT come out of the dark ages.
The problem is of course that ACT, National and Labour have all chased the get tough on crime rhetoric and have warped our prison system into the mutated behemoth we have now.
Once upon a time, prisoners who moderated their behaviour inside prison were eligible for parole after serving third of their sentence. Post the Sentencing Act 2002, prisoners have to apply for rehabilitation programs that there aren’t enough of and the Parole Board won’t consider anyone for parole until prisoners have completed those courses…
Under the Sentencing Act 2002, long term prisoners become eligible to attend their first parole hearing after serving one third of their sentence – unless they were given a longer minimum non-parole period by the sentencing judge.
However, the board has become increasingly cautious since convicted murderer, Graeme Burton was released on parole in 2006 and went on to commit a second murder. The board conducted a review of its decision to release Burton leading to a much more structured approach to its decision making for all prisoners from then on.
As a result, the Board now seldom considers the release of any prisoner until he has successfully completed a rehabilitation programme which addresses the lifestyle factors which contributed to his offending. The limited availability of rehabilitation programmes in prison (despite an increase in the last few years) means there are long waiting lists and very few prisoners even start a programme until they have completed at least one third of their sentence. Even if a programme is available, the Corrections Department is reluctant to let prisoners start one until they have completed two thirds of their sentence.
This has a significant impact on the number of prisoners released on parole. In 2013, the Board held 6093 parole hearings and released only 1462 prisoners – 24% of the total – the lowest percentage since 2006.
…so because of the joke rehabilitation programs and their scarcity, Prisoners have almost no chance of getting out of the hell hole that is the NZ prison system before they start to become institutionalised. On top of this, National have added forced labour to the list of parole conditions. If a Prisoner refuses to work for the Prison, it appears negatively on their Parole report.
To now have ACT whose legacy was built upon robbing Prisoners of any rights and locking them up for longer and longer, come out and suggest half hearted solutions to the problems they created is as empty in value as a bankrupt drunk.
ACT and their politically manipulative tough on crime rhetoric is the problem here, there are no solutions from this elitist fragment of a Party.