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Sharples: Labour Committed To Failed Corrections Policies

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Pita Sharples
Pita Sharples

16 April 2009 - It is no surprise that Labour opposes corrections strategies that might actually work, given their nine years of failure to reduce reoffending or imprisonment, says Dr Pita Sharples, Associate Minister of Corrections.

"Under Labour's watch, spending on law and order rose from $1.9 billion a year to $3.4 billion - almost double. The prison muster rose from 5,800 to 7,600 - up by a third. Capital expenditure quadrupled in two years, as more and more prisons had to be built to cope with thousands more prisoners," said Dr Sharples.

"All that expenditure failed dismally to reduce offending or reoffending. Labour's brilliant solution is more of the same. It's appalling that their lack of ideas and lack of innovation has cost this country so dearly," he said.

"Labour's retributive approach and their lack of support for habilitation and rehabilitation will not reduce offending, and it will not help victims to get over their suffering.

"The focus for this government is policies that work. With Maori being imprisoned at five times the rate of others, and making up half the prison population, approaches that work for Maori are a priority.

"We are planning an extension of the Maori Focus Units concept. When the pilot project can show it is effective, then it will be opened to all inmates who can demonstrate their commitment to change their ways. Labour's fears of a separate system for Maori are quite misguided, and blind them to Maori-based approaches that can work for everyone," said Dr Sharples.

"The reality is that Corrections has succeeded when an offender is safely reintegrated with their whanau and the community, not just when their sentence is served.

"Currently, half of all Maori prisoners reoffend within a year of being released from prison, and a third return to jail. We have to find ways to cut those rates of reoffending, in order to protect the public.

"For every offence there are at least eight victims. Labour professes concern for victims' rights. If offending and reoffending decreases, fewer people become victims in the first place.

"Reconciliation and restoration puts responsibilities on all parties - offenders, their families, victims and the wider community.

"This government is keen to work with people who are prepared to bring about lasting change by stepping up and taking personal responsibility. That includes offenders who have acknowledged their offending and are willing to develop skills for life outside. Living in shared prison accommodation where they have to look after themselves and each other is a start.

"It also includes whanau, community leaders and ordinary citizens who can see that the current system is not working for anyone," said Dr Sharples.

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