The Hui did a remarkable job over the weekend of highlighting the extraordinary drop in the prison muster by 1000 since Kelvin Davis became the Minister.
The reason I find it so difficult to applaud however is because the prison population has dramatically dropped due to Corrections NZ finally helping Prisoners fill in the paper work to enable them to bail out of prison to their homes earlier.
The vast majority of Prisoners are functionally illiterate, expecting them to fill in paper work and keep in contact with their whanau to enable reintegration into society through letters is simply absurd and that Corrections have managed to remove 1000 prisoners out of the the damaging, overcrowded and violent environment that is our prison system doesn’t seem like a celebration as it is an indictment against the entire penal system.
These bail changes came into effect in 2013 under Judith Collins, that’s 5 whole years when Corrections could have been keeping prisoners out of prison, that’s as many as 5000 New Zealanders needlessly kept in prison as human collateral damage so that National could look tough on crime.
That’s 5000 broken men who were more damaged needlessly for political capital.
What can not be doubted however is the passion of Kelvin Davis and the Leadership he has forced upon this issue to enable these results. He has tirelessly worked to get Corrections to re-examine their values and processes and while those 5000 men needlessly jailed at a cost of $100 000 each per year have cost us $500million over those 5 years and immeasurable pain to family friends and prisoners, we can be grateful for Kelvin’s authority and influence over this social damage and hope it at least won’t be repeated.