by Roger Brooking

New Zealand has fallen prey to penal populism: our prison population is at an all time high – driven by victims rights groups and the public's moral panic over violent crime

In 2011, Bill English said that prisons were “a moral and fiscal failure” and New Zealand should never build another one. Well said – and achievable – but only if Governments stop pandering to the Sensible Sentencing Trust and the moral panic manufactured by the media whenever a violent crime occurs.

If the Government was serious about reducing re-offending, the Corrections Department would pay for professional reintegration services instead of relying on well meaning volunteers like Ngapari Nui

Black power member, Ngapari Nui, has been working as a prison volunteer for the past five years trying to steer young gang members away from crime. By all accounts he’s been doing a great job.

Tony Robertson has a lot in common with Graeme Burton, William Bell & the Beast of Blenheim. They were all serious high risk offenders – but none of them got to attend a rehabilitation programme in prison

Tony Robertson was sentenced to eight years in prison for indecently assaulting a five year old girl in 2005. He was considered a high risk prisoner and the parole board declined to release him on four separate occasions.  He was eventually released in December 2013 at the end of his sentence.

A letter written by the Chief Ombudsman reveals disturbing questions about its relationship with the Corrections Department 

The death of Jai Davis in 2011 has highlighted critical deficiencies in the management and nursing culture at the Otago prison. Now there’s an even wider concern. Documentation has come to light showing the Ombudsman allowed Corrections, albeit unintentionally, to cover up the circumstances surrounding his death which implicate management and nurses at the prison.

An alcoholic 58 year old man with twenty convictions for drink driving has been disqualified indefinitely but keeps getting his licence back.

Two months ago I was asked to interview Brian Hart, a 58 year old chronic alcoholic on his 20th conviction for drink driving. My job was to figure out how bad his drinking problem was and what treatment he needed. I discovered that as a child he had been physically abused and eventually abandoned by his parents. As a result he had long-standing personality problems.

The Ombudsman has released a highly criticial report into the eight month segregation of Arthur Taylor in Auckland prison. Dame Beverley Wakem says the conditions for segregated prisoners "could be described as cruel and inhuman for the purposes of the UN Convention against Torture"

During his current incarceration in Paremoremo, Arthur Taylor has got right up the noses of Corrections officials by repeatedly taking them to court.

The Corrections Department removes opiate pain killers, ritalin, and even anti-depressants from prisoners. It uses a 'mimimum dental services policy'. This causes intense suffering for thousands of prisoners. So does it amount to torture?

Many New Zealanders seem to believe that those who end up in prison get what they deserve. I can only suspect they're unaware the Corrections Department uses a variety of cruel, inhumane and degrading practices on a daily basis, which induce intense pain and suffering for people in prison. These practices are a form of psychological torture.

The media have told us that Murray Wilson refused to attend a rehabilitation programme while in prison. In fact, the Corrections Department refused to let him attend

Murray Wilson, aka the ‘Beast of Blenheim’, sat in prison for 18 years doing next to nothing – and the whole country (well, Wanganui anyway) is up in arms. Why? That ‘doing nothing’ in prison seems to be at the heart of the problem.

Depressed and suicidal prisoners in New Zealand are placed in so-called 'at risk' cells where they are deprived of sleep and subjected to humiliating searches

Kim Dotcom recently spent a month on remand in Mt Eden prison after the police agreed to act on behalf of US authorities. The police took away his cars and froze his bank accounts.

The Corrections Department wants to build a new 1,000 bed prison at Wiri for $424 million - based on justice sector projections from 2010. The projections for 2011, however, show a new prison is no longer needed

Does New Zealand need to build a new 1,000 bed prison at Wiri?