Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Plummeting prison population

Corrections has released December 2020 prison statistics

My question is, how do you react to this graph?

There are around 1,500 fewer people in prison than the Justice Sector forecast there would be.

Does that inspire you? Does it make you feel less safe? I mean, everything is about feelings today isn't it?

Criminal behaviour doesn't change in the space of a year. Only active policy to reduce the prison population by device (eg earlier parole) can create a deviation of this magnitude.

Update: Jim Rose helpfully provided some context for the drop, reported in Suff.

Instead of waiting for laws to change – an often slow and contentious political process – Davis has started tinkering at the edges.

"In one aspect a lot has changed, and in another aspect, little has changed…We're finding inefficiencies in the system and doing our best to eliminate them."

Davis asked Corrections to identify its top 10 initiatives for safely reducing the prison population.

The initiatives included looking at how best to utilise electronic monitoring – something recommended in the briefing papers – and bail applications.

In the case of bail applications, those who have been charged are now given extra help filling out the form and access to their full contact information.

This allowed them to submit a proper bail application, with potential bail addresses, so when they came before the court, if a judge deemed them suitable for bail, it could begin immediately.

"We haven't made any legislative changes, we've just found inefficiencies in the system and changed them; low-hanging fruit," Davis says.

"I'm just surprised that the things that we're doing hasn't happened before."

At the moment, the system was "defying the forecasts", he says.

There is still more to be squeezed from those top 10 initiatives, which also include looking at transitional housing, remand, youth, iwi initiatives, and female prisoners. Then Davis will ask Corrections for the next 10 ideas.

"There's now an environment where they're free to be creative."

And for would-be inmates, more creative to be free!

I support the aim so long as more victims is not the result. An outcome only dscovered after the fact.


Desperado said...

Lindsey how do you explain the drop? Are you saying a message has been sent to be more flexible with parole terms? We haven't heard any policy announcments have we? It is a striking drop.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Shadows said...

Seems almost daily we get reports of criminals convicted of pretty serious crimes being given home detention.

It would be interesting to see the stats on change in number in home detention over the same timeframs.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Shadows, Community Sentences aren't up:

Desperado said...

Cheers for the link Lindsey.

Jim Rose said...

I read somewhere in the Dominion Post that a thousand fewer were put on remand because they were allowed to access their mobile phones to get a telephone number to give for a bail address for police to check.

These say thousand people were on remand because they couldn't remember a friends phone number to nominate a bail address

Lindsay Mitchell said...

You jest, surely?

Jim Rose said...