Earlier this week I posed some questions to Finance Minister Bill English about his support for the government’s plan to spend a billion dollars on a new prison. I was pretty disappointed in his answers, all of which flew in the face of his own comments in the past acknowledging that prisons were a moral and fiscal failure.
Our increase in prison numbers – ‘average’ numbers of incarcerated offenders have more than doubled over the last twenty years – is not because New Zealanders are becoming more lawless or because the crime rate is increasing (they aren’t, and it isn’t).
A week ago I visited Lillestrøm, a short train journey to the north-east of Oslo and the site of the KRUS Correctional Service Training Academy the Norwegian training school for prison officers.
As Parliament goes into recess for two weeks, I’m heading away first to UK, then to Northern Europe. The purpose of my trip, somewhat unusually, is to visit and learn more about prisons and prison systems.