In 2011 the government announced, with much fanfare, its target of ‘Reducing Reoffending by 25% by 2017.’
New Zealand First, along with many others, did not believe them.
Statistics were thrown in the air, slogans were coined, speeches were delivered and a new outfit called ‘Rehabilitation and Reintegration Service’ was established to achieve the coveted target.
Shoulders were tapped and butchers and bricklayers were hired as ‘Managers’ to lead a team of Case Managers and Sentence Planners, who were more qualified and experienced than their bosses!
By the government’s own admission, 7% reduction in reoffending has been achieved as against the targeted 25%.
Given the way Corrections Services are being managed, it will only get worse.
The failed attempt will impact on the government’s claimed surplus and the possible tax-cuts.
The government recently announced a multi-billion-dollar prison expansion.
This will cost about $2.5 billion to build and operate over six years to accommodate the increase in prison muster we face currently and in the future.
The proportion of offenders charged with a series of offences has risen which means more people are being remanded in custody and serving more of their sentences in prison.
This, despite the government’s claim that crime has reduced in New Zealand.
The figures also underline the need for an improved youth justice system as at least 50% of all adult prisoners have previous convictions as youth.
All the facts highlight the government’s failure to focus on the early stages of this issue including law enforcement and the youth justice system as opposed to their reactive approach, after the offence has been committed and the individual has been charged and sentenced to prison.
As a result of this short-sighted approach, New Zealand tax-payers will continue to spend more and receive less as far as reducing reoffending is concerned.
Mahesh Bindra is Member of Parliament on New Zealand First List and the Party’s Spokesperson for Corrections, Ethnic Affairs, Customs and Land Information.