by Roger Brooking

The chief science advisor to the Prime Minister has just issued a damning commentary on the way in which the media presents 'information' about crime and punishment in New Zealand

Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser has released a report stating that for the last 20 years, the media narrative about crime and punishment has been driven by dogma.

The prison population has hit 10,000 - an all-time high. 56% of these inmates are Maori - another all time high. What's going on?

In February 2017, New Zealand’s prison population hit 10,100 - an all-time high - and an increase of 364% in the last 30 years.  A month later, the NZ Herald reported that 56.3% of that total are Maori - also an all-time high - even though Maori make up only 15% of the population.

Up to 90% of prison inmates have problems with substance abuse and addiction. But Corrections does not require the counsellors who provide rehabilitation programmes for them to have a graduate degree in the assessment and treatment of addictive disorders. In fact, they don't even need a degree - just a qualification.

In April last year, Radio New Zealand reported that the Corrections Department was paying for non-existent alcohol and drug counsellors.

In many respects, Judith Collins has been the worst Minister of Justice and Corrections New Zealand has ever had. She had to go – even if that changes absolutely nothing about how the country deals with the drivers of crime or the growing prison population. And it won't.

The Corrections Department puts out a monthly magazine called, guess what – Corrections Works.

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.