Media Release: 10,000 people in prison today should be a wake up call 
Date: 30 November 2016

For the very first time we have over 10,000 people locked in prison in our country, 5 months before the Government's own predictions.

This means that since June this year another 527 people are in prison, over a thousand more children have a parent in prison and we will spend an additional $57 million just to house these extra people over the course of a year. There are now over 23,000 children in New Zealand with a parent in prison.

The Government's response to this growing crisis of mass imprisonment is to build another prison at a cost of $1 billion, and totaling $2.5 billion over the next five years when you include operational costs. 

"It's time to stop accepting this moral and fiscal failure as inevitable and have a proper conversation about prisons" says JustSpeak Chair, Julia Whaipooti.

That is exactly what a timely public event to discuss prison expansion will do tonight in Wellington. The event starts at 6pm, Wellington Girls' College Hall and all are welcome. It can also be watched live through JustSpeakNZ's Facebook page.

"Building more prisons is the most expensive, least effective, means to address social issues and it targets those already marginalised, particularly Māori" says Julia Whaipooti. "The Government needs to take a good look at how it's own policies are increasing mass imprisonment".

Crime has fallen 15% in the past 5 years, but prison numbers are rising. Last year, 90% of this increase in prison numbers was due to a rise in the number of people being held on remand.

"The number of people being held in prison who will not get a prison sentence is about the same as the capacity of the new prison that the Government wants to build" says Julia Whaipooti. "It's not rocket science to see that there is a better way".

A third of all prisoners have not even been sentenced to prison, but are being held either before their case is heard, or before they are sentenced. Half of those on remand will not be sentenced to prison.

Media contacts:
Julia Whaipooti, JustSpeak Chair
027 715 5426

Katie Bruce, JustSpeak Director
021 110 5021