Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Prison overcrowding

Peter Williams QC is a bleeding-heart liberal idiot. There’s no question about that.

He says “forcing people into a dark dungeon with no windows and without the basic elements can have a huge mental strain on prisoners.” Poor dears.

Problems with prison overcrowding he says can be fixed if people just get intelligent, he says on Newstalk ZB. “A lot of people could be released early to make beds available,” he says, “as there are a large number of non-serious security risk prisoners who could be housed in other accommodation.”

These people could be put in motels, says Williams unintelligently.

Peter Williams is an idiot. Listen up Peter: ‘If you can’t do the time, then don’t commit the crime.’

The reason people are locked up is to protect us from people who are a real, proven threat; specifically, to protect us from people who have committed crimes in which it has been proved they are a threat. With just one caveat, they deserve to be there.

Here’s the caveat, and therein the solution: if we really do care about injustice and about overcrowding we could immediately cut prison numbers by about a third by freeing people who have committed any so-called crime in which there is no victim. Victimless ‘crimes’ such as our drug laws should be expunged from the books as the injustice they are, and as a practical solution that effectively doubles police numbers and reduces the prison population.

I say keep the dungeons for those who’ve committed real crimes, and free the others.


  1. Crim justice is supposed to take criminals out of circulation, nothing more. Hopefully private initiative will rehab those who have gone astray.

    The state is indeed over-stepping its mandate when it brutalises outlaws. Chronic over-crowding the most stressful torture they could be inflicting! It's not a legit function of our justice system to galvanise brutish sentiment nor break spirits.

    The bleeding-heart liberal has an important point which is easy to dismiss depending, for one, on where in Mt Eden you habibitat is.

  2. Something like 70% of the 5000 released prisoners every year reoffend and get put back in, but if they are helped get back into society for about 6 months that figure drops dramatically.

    This was from someone who worked in a church group that did a kind of prisoner mentoring thing and found it really helped. He gave the example of a released prisoner being given $350 and a bus ticket on release - pub is accross the road from the bus stop, the guy hasn't had a drink in years, so a couple of hours later he's spent a bit of money there, is totally sloshed - it's from that point that they need help, upon release.

  3. I don't agree by a long shot Lucyna. Ambulence at the bottom of the cliff.

    While gestating with all the other rats, dehumanised by the over-crowding and educated by 'Crime School', your convict is more criminal now than ever he camest into the world.

  4. What part of what I said don't you agree with, Rick? You don't agree that 5,000 prisoners are released a year? Or that 75% reoffend and are put back in? Or is it that you don't agree that if they are mentored back into society upon release, that the number reoffending drops - because they are now "more criminal"?

    Ah, I see, now that I think through what you said - you think that people released from prison have absolutely no chance of reintegrating with society - is that right?

  5. Welcome again. The subject is over-crowding.

    You admit there needs to be help but not until after they get out. That "it's from that point that they need help, upon release".

    No, I don't agree by a long shot Lucyna. Ambulence at the bottom of the cliff.

  6. If you can provide some help before they get out you'll get much better results. Of course, a lot of the people we're talking about are simply not ready to be helped and will remain scumbags for a long time.
    That said, many can be treated. A rehabilitation scheme that works is an absolute bargain and makes the country a safer place. (Declaration of interest: my wife works for Corrections and does just this.)
    Take, for example, child sex offenders. There are rehab courses that CSOs can be sent to, if they're deemed suitable, that can cut the reoffending rate by something like 80-90%. At about $20,000 to run the course and $80,000 to keep someone inside for a year, even if all they do is reduce someone's time inside by more than 3 months they're a winner.
    If you can cut the chances of a released CSO reoffending from 40% to 4% then you've got the bargain of not paying for their next sentence and some child somewhere gets to live an unruined life. I think rehabilitiation is a legitimate expense for the state to have as part of its justice system, assuming that it can be shown to work and assuming that the primary job of the prison service, which is keeping bad people away from the rest of us, is done properly.
    And ultimately this will help address the orignal point of this thread, which was overcrowding :-)

  7. Nuh.
    Libertarianz don't institute governments so they can give crooks self-improvement honeymoons!

    Keep the bad people away from us and nothing extra. I don't want us to start helping these creatures but I don't want us to continue torturing them (as we do now) either.


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