Something the Justice Summit missed – why are NZs prisons becoming forced labour camps?


One thing that seemed to have been missed during the Justice Summit is the forced labour camps our prisons have become.

The move to privatise prisons demands and requires the forced labour model to generate profits and that is why we saw public prisons become forced prison labour camps.

National changed the parole laws so that if a prisoner doesn’t agree to work, they can’t get parole so prisoners will be forced into prison labour if they want to be eligible for parole.

While prisoners should work if they want to, attaching parole to that isn’t incentivising, it’s forcing.

How legitimate business will manage to compete with the cheapness of forced labour is anyones guess, but in a nation that has been so blinded by revenge by groups like the Sensible Sentencing Glee Club, we don’t care about what we are generating here.


  1. Good post, Martyn.

    Yes, it will undermine the ability of more traditional businesses to compete. Forcing many of them to conform and adopt the prison labour model. Resulting in increasing reliance, thus business (and their shareholders) support and demand for more inmates.

    It will also undermine the ability for those on the outside to maintain their jobs and their ability to secure new ones as more work is transferred to inmates.

  2. There is a documentary about the American penal system that addresses this exact issue. In effect, America has legalized slavery, by making work compulsory for parole. Twenty percent of textile products made in America are made by prison labour.

    It would be a blight on our moral compass to allow it to happen here.

  3. Fuck…’forced labour camps’ haa haa, if only!! the voting public would vote 80% in favour…damn, if only!

  4. Completely disagree.

    The chance of a prisoner being a recidivist if they have no job to go to is much higher.

    Having a job organised as a parole condition is entirely valid. And prison work release, prior to work release is the foundation to this.

    This is the incentive the prisoner needs to take up education and work training options (and any rehab required as a condition for work release and or parole).

    And none of this has anything to do with being unpaid/low paid/slave labour work done in prison (albeit cleaning/prison kitchen/garden/prison built prefabs are a form of job training).

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