TOP's new leader Geoff Simmons on why getting 'tough on crime' is nothing but an expensive political slogan

TOP's new leader Geoff Simmons on why getting 'tough on crime' is nothing but an expensive political slogan

By Geoff Simmons*

Well done to Andrew Little for raising the thorny criminal justice conversation. Those who care about wasting taxpayer money should be calling for him to be bolder.

Here’s why: we already have the 2nd highest prison population in the world. Yet if we do nothing we will still need a $1b new prison every 2-3 years. Every new prisoner costs $100,000+ per year. Locking people up harms future generations too - children of prisoners are 5x more likely to end up in jail themselves.

None of this is reducing crime. In fact, all the evidence shows that putting people in prison makes crime worse. Prisons are breeding grounds for crime. The more people we lock up the more we will need to lock up.

Even if you don’t care about the wasted human potential, prisons are a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money. Many states in the US have woken up to this fact and are reducing their prison populations for budgetary reasons, without any impact on crime.

If you lock people up then release them without helping them, they will commit more crimes and end up back in jail. Most of the people in jail have a drug or alcohol problem or a mental health issue, yet they often receive help for neither. Again, Sensible Sentencing Trust slogans like “throw away the key” are not helpful and just send the prison population even higher.

Of course, the concern for politicians is looking like you are “soft on crime”. That is what stopped Bill English doing anything about the ballooning prison population despite him calling prisons a “moral and fiscal failure”.

Getting “tough on crime” is nothing but an expensive political slogan. This attitude has sent our prison population through the roof - and the growth shows no sign of stopping. This is the legacy of previous National and Labour Governments.

Even Andrew Little himself has fallen into the “tough on crime” trap, stating that reform isn’t about reducing the numbers of people we put in prison, just doing a better job of rehabilitating them. This is absurd. People with drug problems should be sent to rehab, not to prison. People with mental health problems should be sent to counselling, not prison. When people need help, locking them up only makes their problems worse.

Prison should only be for violent offenders. Yet we are sending people to prison for not being able to pay their car registration fees. We are basically sending people to prison for being poor. In prison they meet hardened criminals. What good can come of that?

The Labour/NZ First answer of more police is also no real solution either. More police means more people in prison and we know more people in prison just leads to more crime.

Victims are rightly concerned about going soft on criminals. But we have to find better ways of giving victims justice than locking people up. The human and financial cost of prison is just too great. Restorative justice is a huge step forward but is grossly underfunded. In some countries some of the money saved by reducing the prison population has also gone into a victim's compensation fund.

Retribution is only one of the reasons for a justice system. Prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration are other reasons. But right now, almost all our effort and money go into retribution. And it isn't working.

The Government's criminal justice summit sounded like a useful conversation starter. Well done to the people working in this field who have been pushing these ideas for a long time. Well done also to Andrew Little for being willing to take on this thorny issue.

Sadly, I don't rate the Government's chances of turning this conversation into action, judging by the reaction of coalition partner NZ First.  All the evidence may point to prisons being a total waste of money, but NZ First has never shown much interest in either evidence or saving money.

However, if those who care about wasting taxpayers’ money speak up, there is chance of building a broader political consensus.

*Geoff Simmons is an economist and The Opportunities Party's leader.

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Hmmm, I lost money to a guy who stole over $1m from people. Much of that was from the IRD i.e.the NZ taxpayer.

He was sent to jail. As far as I know he didn't have an alcohol, drug or mental health problem.

So what do we do with people like this if we don't send them to jail?

I wonder where Swann is (ripped off Otago Health). Pity an investigative journalist couldn't do a follow up.

Corporal Punishment, a la Singapore then?

Technology. Robust gps tracking devices in real time with a offender on home d or similar option, ability to track, listen in, take sweat samples, detect illegal substance us etc . If they 'behave' then reward by extending roaming range, curfew hours, reduction in sentence etc. Time to move from the dark ages...

And what do you do when Trust law can mean financial criminals can still be well incentivised to rip people off, with the ability to keep ill-gotten gains afterwards?

Every society has some sort of jail. Some have a sharp axe.

Personally Id vote that the serious offenders (murder, rape, P dealers, recidivist violent crime) get outsourced to the like of Outer Mongolia penal mining camp, or mine clearing in Iraq. Clearing out this lot, including the Gang recidivists, would resolve a number of issues.


I am sorry to hear of your loss. Since we treat white collar criminals much more leniently than their blue collar counterparts,he may well have escaped with a light sentence.
Of course there are people we have to send to prison,but it is surely clear to see,that what we are doing is NOT working. Why are so many other countries able to manage to send fewer on a per capita basis? Why does the Right want to keep adding to the prison population,when it costs so much?
This article makes a lot of valid points.

Actually, his like is probably the very sort that jailing could turn around, presuming he is none of those things you mentioned, then he did what he did quite deliberately and had quite possibly calculated the risk of doing so. There will be plenty of room for him and his if the mentally ill, drug and alcohol dependent were dealt with outside of the penal system, where they really should be being dealt with.

At least TOPS is evidence based. Labour/left is based on Foucault - the world's most cited intellectual..


Yes they are a colossal waste of money - but they are a natural consequence of multi-generational government betrayal of their constituents through failure of socio-economic policies, and are now a necessary evil.

Starting with Maori, they were systematically dispossessed of their land. A feature central to their core identity. Forgive me but it goes beyound whakapapa and turangawaewae, and i am not sure of the words. Governments for over 100 years have never dealt with Maori on a basis that delivered credibility to their view. the Titiro atu, titiro mai perspective of equality. Instead they have imposed a European centric, individual first, perspective that has been collectively very damaging. Instead they have patronised them, offering platitudes, and tokenism instead. This is the basis of such high Maori numbers in the negative statistics.

Add to that the European centric view where those in power have looked after themselves first at the expense of their constituents, which culminated in the adoption of Milton Friedman's free market policies. The effects of these impacted on everyone from the middle class down. The evidence is obvious to those who want to see it; the erosion of pay and living standards, the export of thousands of jobs, the housing crisis and homelessness.

As the article suggests though, the conversation is vital because we need to figure out how to fix it. in part I suggest that a report that came out a year or so ago that identified that in the 60s and 70s, 60% or the population were in "unskilled" jobs, provides a suggestion of where the answer lies. This government has already identified that one of it's goals is real jobs, with a decent income for everyone, everywhere. While idealistic i suggest that this will be the most effective solution. Rehabilitation won't work if people have no hope, poverty leads to desperation. Desperation leads to crime. The biggest problem is the Government failing have been in place for at least a generation, so it will take at least that long to fix it. To change attitudes and provide a real change.

hear hear

I think that may be applicable to some/many crimes. But it is not the entire picture.

Yes the Maori prison population is high. But the vast majority of Maori live crime free lives and are valued members of society.

There has always been crime in some form. After all crime is essentially people doing things that society as a whole deem unacceptable.

Prison was a means of removing these people from society, or looking at it the other way protecting society from these people.

Like it or not. There is a valid need for prisons.

You are correct, it is a generalisation and there are variations, but the root of most crime is poverty, and this is not bound by race, but more Maori are here than others. Also privilege doesn't stop people committing crime. But the most common root cause is poverty and desperation. Deal with that and more than half will vanish.

How do you deal with the poverty and desperation?

Teach kids at high school how to get off the couch, get a job and wear a condom?

I just ripped this off from the Brookings institute in the US:

Brookings whittled down a lot of analysis into three simple rules. You can avoid poverty by:

1. Graduating from high school.

2. Waiting to get married until after 21 and do not have children till after being married.

3. Having a full-time job.

If you do all those three things, your chance of falling into poverty is just 2 percent. Meanwhile, you’ll have a 74 percent chance of being in the middle class.

Re: Point 3.

We run a monetary system based on price stability & inflation targeting. To do so requires a proportion of the population to always be unemployed.
The rest of us with jobs thus owe it to the unemployed to ensure that they are adequately looked after.

Yes and no. It’s not the same people who are perpetually unemployed, it’s revolving. And yes, I believe there should be support for those with out. Where I seem to differ with everyone is I think support would be more effective from family and the local community rather than the government.

That is where i talked about attitudes. When there are decent jobs with a decent income, then parenting standard become a factor. Parents having aspirations for their children, being prepared to teach them boundaries without trying to kill them, pushing them to work hard, teaching them that the limits to their achievement lie between their ears, not in any others measure or opinion of them. But first and most of all there must be the opportunity for them, especially the under skilled average people, to have a secure and stable job with a decent pay rate. Not everyone, or even most will be able to go to university, or be an ace computer coder. But they will still need a job, and want a decent life style. Some will realise their potential late, Graham Hart after all started out as a truck driver, but getting out there with opportunity is where it all begins. today for too many, that opportunity simply does not exist. I do not class minimum wage jobs that are mindless and demanding as much of an opportunity, despite the fact that some do.

The Hosk disagrees with this.

Well, that is a resoundingly strong endorsement for Murray's post then isn't it :)

Essentially we are dealing with individuals though, and the required change is their own mindset. The govt can give people the world, but if they don't want it, then nothing changes.

We can try and smooth/reduce the inequalities, but it is not realistic to think we cannot remove them entirely. Personally I think we already do pretty well in that regards.
- Universal benefits
- Free healthcare
- Free education
- Fair laws
- Multiple layers of support.

The opportunities are there.

In my view, prison
- isn't meant to make the people "better".
- isn't there as a deterrent.
- isn't there as a punishment.
- isn't a babysitting facility for degenerates.

It is there to protect the other members of society.

We only have to look at the convictions, and re-offending rates in this country to see it is a minority of people committing the majority of crime.

It's time to accept that some people are just no good, and shift the focus back to the victims.

Yes it is devastatingly sad that a guy who was abused as a child, in a broken home, grew up to be a drug addicted, alcoholic, criminal, with dozens of previous convictions.

But it is even more horrific, that we went soft on him and let him kill/rape/abuse yet another innocent victim.

The most effective way, is to remove the problem (permanently). It is the only way to break the cycle.

Yep. Well discussed in police circles that 5% of the population creates 95% of crime.

One of the fundamentals is that many who are committing crime today do not understand how they got there. It is a multi-generational problem. They failed in school for a variety of superficial reasons and then society goes on to further penalise them for this. We need to fix this.

Yes there are some who cannot be rehabilitated (internationally it is suggested around 20%) but the US is as good a demonstration that the death penalty is as problematic or worse to a modern justice system. It is easy to be callous about it, but what about the innocent that the system bulldozed over? An attitude of "kill them all and let god sort them out" is simply unacceptable. what if you were one of those innocents? Would you care if the "system" had determined your guilt despite your knowledge that you weren't?

I am not advocating that we should excuse someone who had a lousy upbringing. What we need to do is change the circumstances that led to that upbringing so that future generations are not victims of it, and go about creating more victims. To be able to do this we need to understand the impacts of social and economic policy, not just on national terms, but down to the individual.

It is Government responsibility to ensure all, right down to the most vulnerable of us, are protected, have opportunity, a decent job and living standard. when they fail, we get the angry, violent frustrations that lead to damaged and abused children, all kinds of violence, robbery and so on. Deliver this and we should have stable, healthy prosperous societies where everyone benefits!

An attitude of "kill them all and let god sort them out" is simply unacceptable. what if you were one of those innocents? Would you care if the "system" had determined your guilt despite your knowledge that you weren't?

We discussed Blackstone's formulation when I was studying. Essentially: "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer"

To simplify the discussion we were posed with the following.

Would you rather one guilty person go free, knowing that no innocents would go to prison ?
Would you rather one innocent go to prison, knowing that no guilty will go free.

I was yes to the second, but it was a pretty even split through the lecture.

As a general rule, I feel in a relatively corruption free country like NZ. Where we already have multiple checks and balances.
- Arrest Warrants
- Fair Trials
- Improved forensic evidence
- Jury's
- Legal aid.

That if the police have enough probable cause to get a warrant/make an arrest. Then I don't see why we should presume innocence.

In my view the risk of a completely unrelated innocent stranger going to jail is incredibly remote. Most if not all "innocents" in NZ prisons have prior convictions, or were very close to the crime committed.

The risk of a Criminal re-offending is both much higher in terms of probability and impact on wider society.

Is it open to abuse, yes. But so is the other way around - How would some of our more high profile "alleged" white collar crims go in court if they had to prove innocence beyond all reasonable doubt. Rather than rely on a highly paid QC to create a little doubt the other way.

Maybe we would see a bit more justice?

To your answer of Yes to the second question - how would you feel if you were one of those innocents sent to prison? It is all well and good to discuss the hypothesis from a strictly statistical or policy perspective, but the problem is, these are real people, and being sent to prison for a crime you did not commit would be devastating to most if not all. Worse it could turn someone who isn't, into a criminal.

Sometime around when Phil Goff was the minster of justice, a retired judge by the name of Thorpe did a review of our justice system. I remember an interview with Goff on National Radio where he seemed quite blase about Thorp suggesting that as many as 20% of our prisoners could be innocent of the crime for which they were imprisoned on. That statistic even if it is wildly wrong as a shocking indictment of our justice system. I don't think a similar review has been done since. There must be a better way.

I counter that with, how would you feel if it was your partner/child/sibling that was killed by the criminal running free.

It may be hypothetical, but I know one thing for sure. I would rather my loved one be wrongfully imprisoned, than dead.

I would hate for my son or daughter to be imprisoned, for something they never committed, its like slavery. I would stress uncontrollably, I probably couldn't live with that. As a father anything that harms my child I hate.

But this is all hypothetical, and not reality, as we will have a justice system, that punishes crime or lets people off based on our current system.

But I get where murray is coming from though. Lets correct what is wrong with the system, not let everyone off that has committed a crime now, just fix why they committed the crime so future people don't fall into the same trap. This will decrease the number of victims and decrease the need for more jails.

I would rather the guilty bastard go free if there wasn't the evidence to support a conviction than for an innocent to go to prison. If an innocent goes to prison for the crime, then the guilty bastard is still free.

That if the police have enough probable cause to get a warrant/make an arrest. Then I don't see why we should presume innocence.

Arthur Allan Thomas
Teina Pora
David Bain (maybe)
David Dougherty

Not only did police obtain warrants, courts obtained convictions. No system is perfect, but the legal system is far from prefect.

So 4 out of 10,000 prisoners have been later released = 0.04% or in a different light 4 people out of a 5 mil population, were incorrectly imprisoned = 0.00008%

Granted the real numbers are possibly higher. But even if we say 200 people, that is still only 2% of prisoners and 0.004% of the population.

Now if we assumed Guilt instead of innocence. Perhaps we would see
- Ewan McDonald
- Chris Kahui
- and the countless hundreds of people with more than 10, 20, ...100, 200 convictions for violent crimes
safely tucked up behind bars rather than out terrorizing the community.

Yeah, no deal. Innocent until proven guilty, its the law, and it works pretty damn well. If you want imprisonment without a fair trial i think there are a couple of countries in the middle east that will accommodate your desires.

Also there are many domestic abuse survivors who don't go and commit crime, but try to cope and contribute to society. A person has to have some kind of moral spine even if s/he was abused as a child. Spoken from first-hand experience.

Interesting comment, I would take issue at the denigration of the individual first approach however. Individual rights are one of greatest inventions of humans period and any society with out laws based around individual rights is all the poorer for it.

Regardless of what people say the western/European system and values are good and no other system has raised the living standards and lifted as many people out of poverty. I feel that so much more could have been done to bring other cultures along for the ride as your alluding to above however.

Good luck with all that affirmative action stuff these days. The tooth paste is well out of the tube. I don't know if you've seen Auckland demographics but there is a second wave of colonisation and they are far more racist toward the Maori than Europeans ever were.

Some of my ancestors in Scotland were dispossessed of their land towards the end of the clearances in the 1830's. Big. Hairy. Deal. It was nearly 200 years ago and has no bearing on anything happening today everyone involved is more than 150 years dead, it is long since past time when any justice could be dispensed by reparations or apologies. To demand redress now would be to create a new injustice - basically just theft to feather the pockets of an undeserving complainant.

Similarly Maori need to grow up and stop blaming history or what their European ancestors did to their Maori ancestors for their current failings. Avoiding personal responsibility for your outcomes by clinging to victimhood and blaming others for your lack of success is weak and childish, and is never going to produce happiness, prosperity or pride.

If you never demand that children work hard and take responsible for their action and failings they go on to fail as adults and are miserable. It is the same for larger groups, maori would be better off if NZ stopped indulging them and their demands for special treatment, money and privileges. It is crippling them as people.

So Foyle, Do Maori blame others? How many Maori do you know? Do they actually tell you that they blame others for there predicament, or do you just make sweeping statements.

In all honesty who cares about Scotland when 51% of inmates are Maori. This is NZ. Its just an excuse for you to have that spiel. I suppose you are living in NZ and not in Scotland though are you.

So are Maori, Maori or are they NZers. If they are NZers, then there is 51% in jail, why, is it because they are poor or Maori. 51% is a statistic that should be glaring and shameful as a NZer, and it is something as a NZ nation we should fix, not just Maori should fix.

I personally think its down to education and integration. We need to help children out when they are young. Cities are a trap for Maori as well, as Maori are surrounded by poverty. In the country Maori play sport and integrate with the whole town, it makes it easier to get out of the poverty trap.

Most Maori I know are happy people that love life, that are kind and considerate and would give their shirt off their backs to help people out. Maybe you should get out more Foyle. At your local rugby club you will find a few, get your guitar out go up and have a sing, and see how many buy you a beer. I bet it will be a few, maybe you could return the favour and then you will get to know what Maori are like. Maybe when they invite you around for food and drink, you can tell them your views.

My kids go to School in Surrey UK, they are surrounded by kids that have parents that push their kids, it creates a competitive environment that helps push my kids. Its all done in a way that's easy and natural. This is what we need to bring to our poorer areas , and way to create a competitive environment that promotes education and build pathways out. Make it fun as well.

Not just blame the poor Maori for something they have little control over, especially when the poorer people have no drive what's so ever which creates a self perpetuating cycle where the kids get caught up in it as well.

Poverty breeds poverty

Actually when I think about it Foyle, you say Maori blame people, it actually seems as if you blame Maori.

What I do agree with you and old Don Brash is we should not blame race or target race, we should target poverty, in this way we will capture Maori and any unfortunate person caught in this cycle.

There aren't many as enlightened as you unfortunately Murray. 51% of NZ's prison population is Maori, a stain on our country. I am not abdicating taking personal responsibility for ones actions, simply that whatever we are doing to address this, if anything, is not working. Surely it has to be cheaper to fix it than deal with the prison population and social consequences which are probably self-perpetuating. And we have idiots like Brash and the Hobson's Pledge lunatics.

Surely it has to be cheaper to fix it than deal with the prison population

$100,000 per annum operational costs to house a prisoner.

How about instead we allocate small business scholarships of $100K to those students most at-risk of pursuing a life of crime post-secondary school. Give them a business mentor and an accountant - who assist with preparation and approval of the business plan, as well as act as joint signatories on capital expenditure during the business start up period.

I could murder for an opportunity like that! ;-)

:-). $100K. It's a drop in the bucket when we think of the social costs of not doing it.

True. It’s just that, as a non-criminal, I don’t get access to that 100 grand...
Also, would that be $100K a year, or just a one off payment?

Not suggesting it be allocated to criminals - rather as business start-up scholarships to secondary school leavers. Young adults with good attitude, application and attendance records but from disadvantaged backgrounds with high at-risk futures. Just a one-off payment - held (and spent) in a specifically designed start-up business trust, with the mentor and the accountant being fully involved in the decision-making during that start up period. Once the business is established with a a cash flow and sound future profitability and prospects - whatever might be left over in the trust would then be returned to the general scholarship fund.

The theory sounds good, Kate. But from what I am seeing, the potential criminals aren’t the same kids as those with good attendance records etc.

Perhaps you're not looking hard enough - most kids are fundamentally good kids - it's circumstances that overwhelm them..

I may not be looking hard enough, but my partner’s son’s partner’s oldest one (13) stopped going to school and is getting into mischief. How is a hundred grand going to help her??

What do you think a violent person from an abusive background with a low IQ is going to accomplish, even with 100k? I get the impression that people like you look at poverty from afar with a kind of smug, paternalistic mindset. Have you ever gotten to know disadvantaged people? Some will make it out of there, given the right opportunities - but not the majority.

Give them a business mentor and an accountant

Neither of those are cheap. You've just blown your 100k budget.


True Maori were dispossessed of much of their land with catastrophic effects, but to draw a line directly from colonisation to today ignores the years between 1945 through to the 1970s when we did much to create a fairer society and redress that imbalance. The impetus came from the citizen soldiers that returned from WW2 - including the much-feted Maori Battalion - who were determined to put an end to the privations of the inter-war years once and for all.

One statistic illustrates the story: in the 1930s, Maori had 5x the infant mortality rate of pakeha. By the 1970s the difference was virtually indistinguishable.

Political will to do something about it (Peter Fraser was the child of Crofters - Scots who were also dispossessed of their land) married with institutions like the Ministry of Works, that provided world-class training in civil construction and employed Maori family 'work gangs' in remote places like the East Cape made all the difference. The economic prosperity we enjoyed throughout the period benefitted the many, not the few. It was the greatest period of social mobility in our history - and a sizeable Maori middle class came out of it.

We don't need to completely reinvent the wheel. I'd like to see a re-examination of those post-war years to see what lessons can be drawn from them and adapted for today's environment.

Bullets - Cheap, effective, and a 0.0000% chance of re-offending.

Yep, we only need to buy about 5 million to ensure that no crimes are committed in New Zealand.

Stop thinking so small - 7 billion and we can solve all the world's problems.

I'd agree, tentatively, that prisons for say 30-40% of the inhabitants, are a waste of taxpayer dollars.

But the alternative, which broadly speaking means rehab and community surveillance, is gonna bear a simply frightful monetary tag, and assumes that the components of the rehab - professionals, facilities, monitoring, materials and community trust in the concept - are all in place, funded, and eager to start work.

Good luck with That, especially the community trust of the concept.

Still, we are the social lab-rats of the world, are we not? Let's Do It!


People are already doing surveillance in my neighbourhood because the robberies are high. Clowns like this guy and Andrew Little want to make it even easier.

But this whole conversation is all about symptoms and misses the point. Let's park the ambulance and climb up to the cliff top and fence it off.
Facts: 1) Low IQ people with solo parents are more likely to commit crime. 2) People from certain countries are more like to commit crime.
So why is it that Labour want to 1) incentivise those problem groups to breed through WFF credits and benefits 2) bring in people from third world cultures.

And 3) All that meth from China doesn't help either.

Basic stuff.

Edit: 4) Lack of living standards here in NZ due to inflation of basic needs like housing and excessive immigration and the low skill end.

These idiots are trying to shift the onus of crime from the perpetrator to the entire society. This moronic suggestion justifies non-violent crimes by giving the criminal a guilt-free pass as a victim by blaming their misgivings on bad social outcomes.
More high skilled migrants would serve us well by better integrating into the society and contributing value to our economy instead of low quality students.

Do you have evidence to support your "facts"?

It's common knowledge. I'm not going to waste my time on this but you can use this thing called Google to find these statistics. Half the prison population is Maori for example.

Also anecdotally you can look at newspaper headlines and see different groups commit different crimes. Sexual crime, burglaries and fraud are committed by quite different ethnic groups.

Ah, so the answer is no. Your common knowledge is in fact nothing more than your internal bias shouted out loud.

Link below. Wait for it to load. Click on Demographics tab. Scroll down to the pie chart.

Great link. Even more interesting, click on the 'Detail' tab - run through the various ANZSOC Crime types and watch the pie chart changes.

And how do those ethnicities align with the percentage of the population in poverty?

And why are some ethnicities always poorer despite decades of help from the government. Maybe they don't value hard work and education as much as other ethnicities.

yes, there are elements of that. There is also the fact that if you start at the bottom you do not get the opportunities to get ahead like those that off in a better position. If you are born into a poor neighbourhood, you will likely not be exposed to many successful small business people from which to learn good habits. Throw in predatory influences that abound in poor neighbourhoods - churches demanding 10% tithing, payday lenders, thieving scum neighbours and lack of good role models and its a very hard hole to climb out of.

Poor white people tend to stay poor, just the same as any other ethnic group. Just look at the appalachia region in the US.

And then you also have inter-generational mindset/behavioral/trauma transfers.

Yep, I've mentioned me long term solution to the poverty trap before, but nobody is keen on compulsory contraception for welfare beneficiaries.

Well Question-Man, for Maori we could look at Net Worth:

Or Median Income:

I suppose next you'll be asking if i can prove that a correlation does infact equal a causation.

thanks, exactly what I suspected. Crime and poverty go hand in hand. Groups over represented in poverty state are the groups that are also over represented in incarceration stats.

I never get this argument.

There are no Maori in the UK but you have different statistics per ethnicity.

But there is a common denominator, that is poverty.

You get the chocolate fish :-).

That much is obvious but you must ask what makes poverty. Some of it is just bad luck with the recessions, jobs going overseas, etc. But more often it's a combination of genetic and environmental factors. IQ is the best predictor of income.
Often people say kids grow up in a dysfunctional family environment. That's just an environmental vector for the parents pow IQ to transfer to the children.

Combine this with cash for kids payments and you get an Idiocracy. This is what it looks like in the US

I suggest you use sources that provide the science that has been hidden from the world's public. Professor Jordan Peterson lectures on IQ are an excellent start. Unless these problems are understood, future automation etc and badly controlled migration will create horrendous social problems.

Frankly I can't be bothered as I'm quite busy and have better things to do than list sources for people who are being disingenuous anyway. It would be remarkable if everyone were actually equal given vast differences in genetics and parenting resources.

"Poverty" is just an easy out for people who don't want to look any deeper.

We don't have "the 2nd highest prison population in the world". We have the 7th highest per capita in the OECD. Whilst still high, if we are evidence based, we should at least be factually correct.


European population are incarcerated at about 80 per 100000, pretty normal by OECD standards. Maori about 7.5x that rate, Pacific islanders about 2-3x that rate, and Asians about 0.5x that rate.

Modern maori culture with it's frequently crappy family structure enabled by destructive welfare driven solo-parenting and exacerbated by gangs is to blame, as is evidenced by their much worse stats than for P.I. (who generally have strong family and social structures and don't appear to need assistance from tax payer supported cultural programs). Also maori crime stats before the rise of pervasive social welfare in 70's/80's weren't nearly so bad.

Pandering to Maori grievance industries that indulge blame-shifting and perpetual victimhood instead of personal responsibility like everyone else does not seem to be producing better outcomes for Maori, nor does cradle-to-grave welfare dependency and paying women to have babies as a career.

Amen to that, as they say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Glad to see you point out how our society fails our Asian Kiwis; fancy leaving half their criminals out of prison. And if that is racism (concious and subconcious) just look at the gender bias in our courts and prisons.

This is looking at things from only a quite recent perspective (in decades), but the other important thing to consider is how the experience of Maori compares to other colonised peoples around the world. And where there are any that are achieving far better outcomes without some of these social issues.

Also, "grievance industries" is a pretty loaded term. No doubt there are cases where redress was fair, based on land theft in the past. It would be very unfair to simply say "Oh, that's in the past haha, I'm loving my house on what was your land. You don't see me asking for handouts, no, no, I stand on my own two feet!"

(That said, our silly mix of reducing social mobility while increasing welfare is a terrible mix for society in general.)

Does it help to know that Simbus are 3% of PNG population but 30% of the PNG prison population?

Or this from wikipedia "" Serious crimes were very uncommon in Bhutan throughout most of the 20th century. There were reports of increased criminal activity since the 1980s and early 1990s. The main causes of the rise in crime are the influx of foreign laborers, widening economic disparities, and more contact with foreign cultures.""

I have always favoured putting the worst of them on an island, drop the food by helicopter, no guards needed, they should wean themselves out as the years go on, let them revert to their true nature and solve the problem for us all

Yep. Auckland islands is a good option.

Isn't this exactly what Aussie are doing to us?

Am trying to imagine how well Rod Petricevic would do on such an island.

I think Mr. Simmons might want to rephrase his language around the police as at first blush it sounds like he thinks there should be less police. What I think he means is that more police won't lower the crime rate but will lead to more people going to prison.

I recently had a look at the safest/ most crime free countries out of curiosity and the conclusion I came to was the countries that were either most rehabilitative or most tough came out on top. I agree with Geoff as at the moment what we have is a waste of money, that’s not to say it’s not important to remove criminals from society as the governments most fundermental job is to protect its citizens. Unfortunately I don’t see anyone offering a genuine solution.

Any relationship with social cohesian and heavy rates of immigration?
That issue never crossed my mind until one day a very pleasant and I'd say basically honest young man was boasting about how he and his mates getting taxis home from partying in the city late at night and would then just leap out of the taxi and run away without paying. It was clear from his description that it was Indian taxi drivers and he and his mates would be a mix of Pakeha, PI and Maori.

In a way yes. It struck me that the more culturally/ethnically homogeneous nations also faired better as well. I’ve just come back from Japan and they are extremely ethnically homogeneous and one of the lowest if not the lowest crime rates in the world. I think in general we don’t mind treating outsiders worse than our own group whatever that group may be.
I’ve been pondering this for a while and I think NZ and other countries would be better off being multi racial rather than multi cultural. (Not to say there aren’t great parts to other cultures we can and should take and use for our own before someone jumps on me)

Glad to agree with you since my family is multi-racial - a lovely spectrum of colours too.

I think the guiding rule should be all change should be slow. If NZ becomes say predominately Asian or PI or Hindu but takes several hundred years to do so then there will be little strife - it is waking up to rapid change that causes trouble.

Agree. If things can change organically that’s about the best we can hope for. I always treat people who want to radically change things with a lot of sceptasism.

could we pay a few $1000/year per prisoner for some of the pacific island nations that we support financially to incarcerate the long term or recidivist prisoners there instead? A few prisoners per village, so that they can't associate much with other prisoners (particularly important for gang members). Would give the islands an industry, and would save NZ huge amounts of money - we could cut down on our financial aid too.

We don't want to spend money on prisons. But criminals force us to put them there. Criminals made the bad decisions, we are just doing what we can to sort their mess.

Yet we are sending people to prison for not being able to pay their car registration fees.


Nail em up I say .
(Sorry , they only hung me the right way up yesterday) .

If a prisoner only costs $100,000 a year,this is chicken feed,so cooping them up is not necessary.

Just give all people a Deposit & Mortgage that this amount will pay for, and they can have a free ride and live off the Capital Gains for the rest of their lives. Will help to leverage up Houses into infinity.

Tax Free, so IRD not involved, Will encourage people to reside in NZ....what more could one ask.

Works for MP's and other bludgers.

So problem solved...Why commit crimes.?

I like this train of thought. So a UBI set high enough could be cost neutral, possibly even cheaper than running prisons and we'd have no crime?

"all the evidence shows that putting people in prison makes crime worse."
Are you sure there are not a hundred other variables that contribute to the problem, and that by singling out this one variable, you are distorting the evidence?
This is typical TOP. No vision, no values, just some random policies that are "evidence-based".
Thank you for reminding us once again not to vote TOP.

Mr Simmons argument is solid. We need fewer prisoners and they should be housed in small local prisons. Many of our current prisoners should be in mental health facilities (note also expensive) or attending education classes (less expensive than prison but still a cost). There may well be a trivial subset of evil bastards who are a risk to any society and they need to be kept securely in prison.

I usually disagree with the sensible sentence trust but Mr McVicar recently made a very good point about the breakdown of family being the main cause of crime. It is also the main cause of mental health issues and alcoholism and just sheer misery.
For those who say poverty is the cause of crime - why did crime decrease during the great depression of the thirties? We do have some children growing up hungry but very few - obesity is a bigger danger - that was not true in the thirties. A better argument is disparity of wealth and our sophisticated advertising industry that is based on making everyone dissatified with what we have.
We could reintroduce universal child benefit and increase income tax to pay for it and that would reduce income inequality. We could heavily restrict advertising.
However what matters most is to reduce family breakdown. Yes most children can survive and many thrive with a single parent but that is no different to saying you can drive faster than the speed limit and survive - it is a clear risk. The govt can't force people to marry nor keep them together when they hate one another but the govt can nudge society by getting rid of all welfare that benefits partners to break-up (just check the Govt accomodation allowance calculator as an example). It should reward couples to stay together living with their children - this needs a universal child benefit, tax relief for having children you are living with, ability to transfer taxable income to a partner so both benefit from a lower tax income band.

I cannot see how your post correlates with your first sentence?
Which part of his post is solid?
You rightly point out that the alternatives suggested (mental health and drug rehab facilities) are expensive. I note that the article didn't cover this at all. Nor did it cover any detail on how the rehabilitation would be enforced (we are talking about people who have committed a crime serious enough to warrant a prison sentence).
We already use home detention for cases not serious enough to warrant prison. This involves police time to check up on them. Is escorting these people to rehab going to fall on the police? I have no idea, but I gather that neither does TOP.

You make a good point about the causes of crime (not covered at all by TOP). Inequality is a big determinant of crime, as opposed to poverty. This isn't just a good argument, it is fact.

Solid make be not quite the right word. 10,000 prisoners at $100,000 a pop => $1b per yr and then add new prisons at $1b every 3 years. Surely we try something new. Mental health counselling and housing reserved for mental health patients would be cheaper by far. If prison is $2,000 per wk then adult literacy and other schemes to prevent crime would be dramatically cheaper.

Unlike Mr Simmons I don't think more police means more crimnals - much the opposite since the life of crime starts often starts with opportunism.

he also might want to get facts right -

prison population has increased significantly since the new bail laws came into effect - and coverall crime has dropped consistently to match the increasing prison population - so it does reduce crime and that is against a backdrop or increasing levels of crime in almost all developed countries.

the insistence that only violent offenders should be in prison - completely demeans the impact of non violent crime - he should ask his wife how she would feel after a burglary - a non violent crime - see if she feels violated that her knicker drawer has been rifled or safe at night after the break in - or maybe ask pensioners who have lost their life savings to a scam artist how they feel.

There is no doubt that we need to rethink prison - but we need to be re thinking what we do with people whilst they are inside - present programs are minimal at best - and very few offenders spend more than two hours a week on such programs and many have none at all.

Perhaps for the first time in their lives - we have a captive audience - with nothing to do all day - ho could be gaining the literacy , numeracy, lifeskills and education they need to enhance their lives - or tackle the Alcohol and addiction issues, improve their mental health and wellbeing , become work ready, learn a trade and skill - even getting them to plant the billion trees - or to be pre fabbing buildings to increase capacity for kiwiwbuild instead of simply becoming kiwibuy of developments that would have happened anyway.

National were going to build 2000 brand new single cell units at Waikeria for 1 billion - allowing both for a growth in numbers that is going to happen in the short term - and to close many of the old and no longer fit for purpose buildings - instead Labour have renegotiated that to 300 double bunked cells - something they vehemently opposed in opposition and a 100 bed mental Health unit ( good idea) for 750 mill -

which pretty much sums up the clueless approach - we could have hoped that the COL would really have acted to back up their rhetoric - but no a very expensive failed opportunity - but then a justice summit followed by more qworkign groups and another 24 months to endure with no actual action

The fall of the nuclear family is where it all starts. And backed up by poor legislation over 40 years. Kids need a mum and a dad, preferably both sober and straight. Even then the family can be dysfunctional. There's no magic bullet here. Sorry. Bad people create bad people just like good people can create other good people. There are no guarantees in this life. We do have the best society there is on offer though. Believe me.
If only Maori new how lucky they were. They were an angry lot a long time before the Europeans arrived.

"we already have the 2nd highest prison population in the world." Really? I think China or India might have a few more prisoners. Oh you mean per capita? hang on, there are plenty of countries at the top of the list and Kiwiland doesn't feature. Doin't get me wrong, the level of incarceration is a national disgrace, way too high

TOP is a wasted vote.

"Every new prisoner costs $100,000+ per year. "

What does every new criminal cost?

When it comes to restorative justice I think China has the best model we could adopt. Those who have murdered others can have their organs harvested to extend the lives of other people who aren't criminals. In this way they have an opportunity (via compulsion) to put right what they've done wrong.

NZ simply can't afford the massive cost of a system dedicated to reforming criminals like those scandanavian countries have.

New prisoners don't have to cost $100,000 a year. That is ridiculous. Thailand knows how to keep prisoners for much less.

Imagine if prisons here were designed in a way that removes the incentive to go back?

Nobody bats an eyelid when we send children out into the bush for 3 nights of camping in the middle of winter, we call that Scouts.

4 very tall walls and a bunch of 10ft shipping containers is all we need.

Where to stop? It astonishes me that people like Geoff Simmons can exist.

Why is it that so many politicians don't believe in the states right to punish for crimes? I suspect that too many politicians live in Ivory palaces in nice suburbs with all the security they could want and never really suffer the impacts of crime the way your average citizen does. Consequently, few have any empathy for victims nor future victims nor any appreciation of the harm inflicted when an unreformed criminal is freed.

And the citizens right to restitution?

Your failed socialist big government nanny state policies need reform.

I think it's time to outsource our prison system to a country that has not signed up to the UN's prohibitions on punishment. Send our criminals to overseas prisons. Send them to a country that knows how to motivate them to reform.

I wonder how much more wealthy, healthy and content we could be as a country if we used a cost-efficient way of removing criminals from our society and preventing the endless creation of more and more victims.

The prime need for prisons is to protect the good citizens from the bad - if we need more build them.

I get imprison offenders, but we also need to concentrate on why, it happens. This is where the focus should be, if we prevent then we have less victims, which should be priority, then we have less criminals.

Its the same as personal health, prevention is better then having to cure something that was preventable, through exercise and diet.

I thought Simmons was deeper than this. This is just Laura Norder, the old chestnut.

The moment we privatised the commons, those who ousted others needed to promulgate rules to protect their plunder-ownership. So the Europeans set up rules and the vanquished indigenous population are the major transgressors. Yawn. This isn't some genetic defect on their part - it's the rules wot put them there. But we are so sure that our culture is the only way there is (as do most cultures of themselves) that we can't see what we do to those who don't culturally fit. This is why gangs - everyone needs a narrative.

If we want to change the paradigm, we have to give the disenfranchised a chance to partake in the narrative - which most of us are unwilling to do. It might mean giving up something we 'own', or some status we think we have. Until we raise our game societally, the rules will be set to stop the disenfranchised trying to redress their disadvantage. Get over it.

And in scale of importance, if we don't sort out the Limits to Growth problem, this one won't matter a damn, very shortly.