Labour’s cowardice on prison reform mirrors their cowardice to reform WINZ – will symbolic gestures be enough?

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Time for PM to step in over minister’s handling of prison concerns

We have had growing concerns about two things in our New Zealand prisons for some time now. The first concern is in relation to reports we were hearing about the treatment of women at Auckland Region Women’s Correctional Facility (ARWCF) and problems with the culture there. This is where the vast majority of our women prisoners are held.

The second is the use of long – and potentially illegal – lockdown hours in prison cells across the country, both before and during the Covid-19 national lockdown.

To date Labour have been very clever in using National’s existing policies to start reducing the prison population.

National always allowed for prisoners of ‘low level offending’ to apply to serve their term at home under home dentation rules, the problem is that no one inside Corrections under National ever bothered to help the prisoners apply to serve their sentence at home so no one applied.

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Under Labour, Corrections have been forced to help prisoners with the paperwork to apply for home detention and that’s why the prison population has stabilised and fallen.

The problem is that while Labour have been reducing the prison population by filtering out the least dangerous, the prisoners going in are more violent gang related prisoners.

The fundamental issue we have isn’t just over crowded prisons, but a violent and corrupt culture within those prisons as well.

The physical lay out of most prisons aren’t conducive to the pacifying healing environment human beings require to change and challenge behaviour and the taxpayer cost to rebuild those environments into pacifying healing environments would be decried by an angry populace who don’t see the loss of liberty as punishment and instead want the prisoner to suffer as well.

Labour have been able to exploit loopholes in existing National prison policy to reduce the prison muster without losing any political capital, but the issues of corruption inside our prisons, the violence and a Victorian punishment infrastructure that only exacerbates violence all conspire against such weak progress and demands actual courage from Labour.

It’s the same lack of political courage we see most blatantly inside WINZ.

Labour’s refusal to lift benefits or challenge the toxic culture inside WINZ, despite more people needing welfare and the two tiered welfare system about to end, will end up becoming  rod for their own backs as more and more white people not used to being treated as appallingly as WINZ treats beneficiaries come into contact with the sadism of WINZ.

Corrections and WINZ aer both underfunded for the task they need to perform and both have toxic cultures that abuse those they are supposed to be invested in.

Labour’s symbolic gestures to date, a tax hike for the richest, a Maori public holiday and renewable energy 5 years earlier than planned are great, but they are just gestures, they don’t get into the nitty gritty of the measurement of positive outcomes to the most vulnerable in our system.

With Covid overshadowing all else, Labour’s symbolic gestures are certainly enough to win the election, but winning the election and making meaningful change in the lives of the most vulnerable are two different things.

If Labour win a majority Government, a great purge of these toxic and corrupt cultures inside Public Services are a must.

 

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13 COMMENTS

  1. “cowardice” Martyn ?

    You’re an articulate enough man who could have easily found a more accurate less emotive adjective than that crap.

    Everything they’ve done is about prudent balance. They must be absolutely sick of being attacked, ridiculed and misrepresented every step of the way. Those on benefits have been assisted via numerous methods while Labour runs the gauntlet all day every day.

    As for other change. Labour simply didn’t have the mandate and have been just a bit busy dealing with multiple catastrophes. If that wasn’t enough they’ve had a coalition partner threatening to bring the Government to it’s knees at any moment if they dislike the policy. Peters would abuse his power and do that in a flash if it suited his wants. NZF have been both a Godsend and a nightmare to this Government. With friends like NZF, who needs enemies?

    I’ve seen cowardice many times along my life journey and that is most definitely not what we are seeing with the Government. It’s prudent and balanced calls made while walking a tightrope each and every day. When NZF are sent packing in October and Labour Governs alone, Labour will have their mandate and will use it. Anyone who thinks otherwise has not been paying attention. Take that to the bank.

    • Max Rashbrook on Stuff has just said the 80% of NZers who agree about economic inequality are mostly the middle class saying they are being disadvantaged by both beneficiaries and rich. Sours. Why Labour won’t do shit for the neediest.

      Yertle, accustomed, holds up this bullshit. Til he doesn’t. When there is a good possibility of fascism in reaction.

    • Very much agree with you Jacindafan. I have huge faith in Andrew Little. I think he is a good man who has already done as much as he can within the constraints of the present coalition. Let’s hope for a Labour or Labour-Green or Labour-Green-Maori Party government.

  2. If Labour win a majority Government, a great purge of these toxic and corrupt cultures inside Public Services are a must.

    Absolutely agree. And the respective ministers need to be held accountable, as much for their inaction as for their actions. One or two should be in the firing line right now. Kelvin, however, just needs to shake off his anaemia and bloody well get to work!!

    • Nope all it is is an increase in the ampunt of money you can earn for partime work from $90 to $160 but the abatement rate still stays the same at 70c in the dollar. So the same lack of incentive to take on part time work still applies.

    • No the same relationship rules still apply and the same income limits for a couple still apply and there is not benefit increase. So it is the same neo liberal bullshit and also the same bullshit still applies for long term illness applicants ie supported living 2 years are disability 6 months both used to be 3 months work incapability.

      Labour are a waste of space as far as the low income are concerned.

      • This might be the turning point for the Greens, in a good way for them. One glance at Sepuloni’s pretence of an “overhaul” and the Greens with their Poverty Action Plan start to look more genuine and humane. Here is a link to it: Poverty Action Plan

      • Geoff Lye,

        “Labour are a waste of space as far as the low income are concerned”

        What planet do you reside on? You must have been sleeping through the minimum wage increases and numerous other policies that have helped those doing it hard. If that’s not enough, it will be related to the way the previous National Government treated them for 9 long years with so much needing to be done to help them get their head above water. It makes me laugh when the nauseating National Party display their faux concern for those in our society that are struggling. The cold reality is they couldn’t possibly care less and treated them with complete indifference exactly as if they were the despised enemy. Beneficiary bashing is a sport to the National Party and their blue army of trolls.

        • Jacindafan, I’m usually in agreement with most of what you have to say, but this time, I’m with Geoff on this one.

          Sepuloni is a bit of a horror story for anyone hoping to bring our Welfare System into the 21st Century. She is not going to do this. Which is bad enough in itself, but her release today was presented as a “Billion dollar overhaul”, as though she was actually doing so. But nope. Where it really matters there is no change whatsoever.

          In sharp contrast, the Greens Poverty Action Plan inspires hope for the future. So, that’s where I’m looking now.

      • You are right on the button with our take on Labour. I am far from being wealthy but look at National as a party that most fits with my views. I certain do not agree with some of their policies but I imaging the poor think of Labour as their party and they have done little to give them a leg up especially those on the benefit

  3. ” If Labour win a majority Government, a great purge of these toxic and corrupt cultures inside Public Services are a must ”
    Majority or not your esteemed leader and her colleagues are all about the softer kinder face of neoliberalisim and maintaining their covid 19 popularity. Despite the pandemic as this post points out there are serious problems that need to be dealt with but wont be because they like their colleagues in the National -ACT party they SUPPORT the status quo. Until we realise that it is a continuing ” market failure ” we will never escape the problems the neoliberal state and those that support it have created.

  4. ” If Labour win a majority Government, a great purge of these toxic and corrupt cultures inside Public Services are a must ”
    Majority or not your esteemed leader and her colleagues are all about the softer kinder face of neoliberalisim and maintaining their covid 19 popularity. Despite the pandemic as this post points out there are serious problems that need to be dealt with but wont be because they like their colleagues in the National -ACT party they SUPPORT the status quo. Until we realise that it is a continuing ” market failure ” we will never escape the problems the neoliberal state and those that support it have created.

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