Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What is the fuss really about?

While an $11m bill for landscaping new prisons on the face of it seems to be an extreme waste of tax payers funds - I would argue that the concept that the money is being spent on is required.  It is necessary to teach criminals how to enjoy a walk in the serene outdoors, to appreciate sculptures and to find ways to release tension and anger other than through violence and theft.  Simon Power is right that "these are meant to be places where inmates are reminded every day of why they are there", but only in so far as this is required for reflection to progress beyond what brought them there.

Truly the real problem is that we do not separate the reasons that a someone is sent to prison - and so in our own minds we cannot resolve the punishment and rehabilitation doctrines that are required.  Until this separation is performed we will continue to have outcries like this over technically required spending, and we will continue to have the injustice that the punishment portion of a criminals sentence is performed in better conditions than many New Zealand households enjoy.
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Hattip: Scoop
Simon Power has the answer to how to reduce the landscaping bill right in front of him and yet doesn't propose it: get the prisoners to do the landscaping!  Sure it will take a whole lot longer with spades and shovels - but I'm pretty sure the physical exertion will do them good, and is a whole lot better for their rehabilitation than sitting in a cell all day.  And more to the point as the Ombudsmen has pointed out: "prisoners who have spent all day (possibly for years) lying in bed are not going to be released and say, "I'm now going to go to work".
And someone who doesn't work when reintegrated with the community is far more likely to recommit.

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