Monday, December 02, 2019

Prisoners voting - letter to Leighton

Like the two commentors on my last post Leighton Smith is opposed to the reversal of National's blanket vote on prisoners voting. I sent him the following:

Hi Leighton

Prison serves three purposes: to protect the public, to punish the offender, and finally, to rehabilitate the offender.

Victims matter. We don't want more of them. Hence rehabilitation is vitally important. Those serving three or fewer years are amongst the most salvageable of prisoners and we expect them to leave prison, find jobs and contribute to society in the near future. It is therefore consistent and useful to reinforce that expectation by according them a say in that society.

And it will matter to some inmates. Prison is a very boring place where pecking orders are established and privileges sought. Those who get to vote will feel different from, perhaps a tad better than those who, by their worse crimes, have relinquished the opportunity. That too will enhance their potential for rehabilitation.

So based on successful reintegration into society being the most important function of prison for those serving three or fewer years, I am happy with the reversal of National's relatively short ban on all prisoners voting.

Best Wishes


He subsequently invited me onto his next podcast to argue my position. Which I did. Possibly not very well but I won't relinquish it. Will put up a link when the podcast goes public.

December 4 Podcast here


david said...

I hadn't thought of it that way. I was inclined to see it as a Little self interested bloody mindedness along the same lines as charter schools.

Oi said...

I dont have strong feelings either way for the "right" to vote for prisoners. I tend to come down on the No Vote side, however.
As a now retired Policeman having served in various locations for the best part of 25 years in the New Zealand Police, I view claims of prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration with a sizable dose of scepticism. Not all, but most criminals have found that law breaking is profitable. Of course there are the offences against the person that dont have a financial reward - Assault, Rape and the like, but in many cases such offender is also a thief, burglar, etc.
I worked alongside a young persons facility and was told by staff there, that if they could get the child before 14 years, thay could turn him or her around, but after that, the child had found that crime paid and it was almost impossible to turn them round.
As a rough rule of thumb, we reckoned an offender commits around 10 offences before being caught. He then goes to court where he is initially at least, given what amounts to a slap on the hand. This encourages him or her to carry on offending.
I found that getting or having a job bears no real relationship on whether someone offends or carries on offending after being released from prison.
These days the offender is as likely as not to be a Meth addict, and he will lie, cheat and steal from his own mother to get his next fix - and that will be as soon as the prison door closes behind him on release.
What seemed to bring the offending to a halt in my time, was the influence of a partner and a family.
In short then, the ability to cast a vote has no bearing on "integration/rehabilitation," so another reason needs to be floated to give them this privilege.

Mark Wahlberg said...

Lindsay, I wonder how many votes cast from prison would favour the National Party?
If prisoners are given the right to vote how long before we see the rise of a "Prisoners Party"? With all the wicked ex cons drifting aimlessly around in the Badlands of society,perhaps Arthur Taylor could take his considerable talents to parliament and represent the villains vote. They would make an interesting coalition party for someone.

Mama_zee said...

WOW, A fantastic talk with Leighton Smith today.
IMHO A treasured member of society!

Anonymous said...

Lindsay, I have just finished listening to Leighton's pod cast on my morning commute. While I also disagree with prisoners having the right to vote, I thought you stated your position very well and it was a pleasure to listen to two people disagreeing on some point, but each listening to the other and being polite at the same time.
Yours is a blog I enjoy reading and Leighton's podcast has been a life saver since he left the ZB daily show. I hope he invites you onto his podcast more often in the future.

Brian Marshall

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Thanks for those positive comments. I'm more of a thinker than talker, and not the fastest thinker at that. So I do appreciate the support.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Oi, Agree about the importance of family hence more progressive prisons (in the UK for instance) work very hard on accommodating an ongoing relationship between parent inmates and their children.

Mark, The impression (could be wrong) I gained when volunteering is that Labour and The Greens would pick up most of the votes. Wouldn't be ACT anyway! Awareness of three strikes is pretty evident.