Media Release: Minister Collins committed to building more crime 
Date: 18 October 2016

In the words of our Minister of Finance, Bill English, prison is a moral and fiscal failure. Five years later and the prison population has doubled with another billion dollars announced to increase it further. Judith Collins has announced today a billion dollars for another 1800 prison beds.

“Expanding the crisis of mass imprisonment has been announced as something that should be celebrated. Relative to countries we like to compare ourselves to, our rate of imprisonment is second only to the United States. Is this really something that we want the world record for?” asks Julia Whaipooti, Chair of JustSpeak.

The proposed new prison is more than a cage for our people, it’s a symbol. It’s a symbol of our Government’s failure to engage with the issues that drive harm in our communities – poverty, homelessness, inter-generational trauma. Is this what essential housing looks like?

In the same month that the Government refused to set a target to reduce child poverty they have announced a billion dollars to build cells to house some of these children as adults.

Imagine what a billion dollars a year could buy in our communities.

“There is something really sinister about building cells for people to house them in the future because we won’t invest in them in our communities now” says Julia Whaipooti, Chair of JustSpeak.

Throwing more money into prisons and hoping they will go away is a Government in denial about how they are contributing to this rise in prison numbers. We’re reaching crisis point with almost 10,000 prisoners on any given day and rising. 23,000 children have a parent in prison right now, and this announcement will only increase this vulnerability.

The Government has set targets to reduce reoffending by 25%.  This announcement shows they are choosing to fail.

The Government sees the rising population as inevitable. It’s not. Other countries are reducing their prison numbers. Our prison numbers have grown because of Government actions and in spite of falling crime rates. They changed the bail laws so that a third of all of our prisoners are on remand and not even sentenced to prison yet.

This decision to spend a billion dollars on more prisons is also not inevitable. The Government is choosing to grow prisons, to grow victims.  We need to demand more.  We need to grow safer communities together.