Prison population reduction plan unrealistic says criminologist

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Nothing will come of the government's agenda to lower prisoner rates says former criminal and current professor of criminology at The University of Canterbury.

The government's goal of reducing the prison population by 30% in the next 15 years is a pipe dream according to Criminologist Greg Newbold who says inflation is inevitable.

Newbold says, "There's nothing that the government can do to reduce the prison population by 30% in 15years and be able to sustain that. It just can't be done."

But according to the Minister of Corrections, Kelvin Davis, there's evidence supporting the government's stance on the issue.

But Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis disagrees and says, "We have seen research from overseas showing that prison rates can be reduced, so if we follow those examples I think we can reduce prisoner numbers."

Numbers have almost doubled in the last eight years. 30% of prisoners are living in overcrowded prisons, an issue that Newbold believes is unavoidable.

Newbold says, "It's a pipe dream to think you can reduce the prison population for a long time. History shows that it can drop a little bit back it'll eventually go back up."

The government will spend around $750mil on the Waikēria facilities.

"They need to build more cell accommodation to accommodate the certain fact that prison population will continue to increase," says Newbold.

It's predicted that the new Waikeria facilities will be opened in early 2022.