Dear Andrew Little
I’m guessing the decision to build the new mega-prison must be already made.
I’m guessing the previous government would have signed any future government up to a contract that would cost you an arm and a leg to pull out of.
On top of this cost reality, you have run out of prison beds which means changes to legislation to stop throwing NZers into prison will help things in the future, they won’t help now.
So what are you to do?
You are no longer dealing with a crime problem, you are dealing with a culture problem.
Decades of mainstream media glorifying crime coverage and decades of politicians whipping people up with that crime coverage means you are now fighting middle class fear of crime, not actual crime.
Despite our crime rates being static, we continue to throw thousands needlessly into prison to satisfy middle class fears of crime.
How can you counter such ignorance that has made corrections into a counter-productive hate pit?
I suggest you declare the new mega-prison the new prison of the future.
Get those buggers who want to make a profit out of constructing this atrocity to earn that dollar and radically redesign the prison.
Instead of a harsh prison built to punish, why not build the rehabilitative prison of the future?
A prison that is built to heal rather than warp further.
What many of the easily triggered sensible sentencing mob of Nu Zilind never understood about prison is that it is the loss of liberty that is the punishment, the prisoners themselves don’t need to suffer awful conditions on top of that.
Prisons can only rehabilitate if the environments are safe and conducive to rehabilitation.
Instead of double bunked cells and underfunded infrastructure, create counselling spaces, class rooms to learn skills, recreation spaces where prisoners feel safe.
Why not take this opportunity to break the mould? Why must prisons be cold and soulless? Why must they be environments of fear and danger to the prisoners?
You need to build the bloody prison, so why not take the chance to revolutionise the entire format and build a modern prison that is designed to rehabilitate prisoners rather then make them suffer?
Demand a design that lives up to the values you want to promote rather than lock into place an old system that continues to damage rather than heal.
Replace the words ‘San Quentin’ with ‘Mt Eden’.
Sure National will scream that it’s an Adult Disneyland, yes right wing pundits will accuse you of pampering the crims while the poor victims go without and yes the Troll Farm at the NZ Herald will do backflips in horror at you wanting prisoners to be safe from harm – but Andrew if there’s anyone with the mana to pull this off, it’s you.