Kakistocracy System of a downer.
Here's a word for the day - kakistocracy: a system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens.
It's taken me a couple of days, after I 'rage-quit' listening to the interview on RNZ (seriously I did - poor Tony), to gather my thoughts on this and I'm still incensed.
NZ's got some mighty big problems with crime and violent offending and there are serious issues that need to be addressed at the community level and there are some organisations doing fantastic work towards this.
Truth is NZ has rising numbers of violent and sexual crime and, despite what some want us to believe, NZ doesn't send people to prison for minor offenses.
No matter how you feel about our incarceration rates, causes of crime or the calls to decrease the prison numbers the fact is that when we, as a society, do send people to prison we have an obligation to keep them safe.
Astoundingly, after campaigning against it, the Sixth Labour-Led Government, after throwing out prior plans, have a spanking new design - including a 100 bed mental health unit and general population double bunking!
First off - I commend the mental health unit. A National Study found inmates have a significantly higher rate of mental disorder than that in the community. This is particularly so for schizophrenia, for bipolar disorder, for major depression, for obsessive compulsive disorder and for post traumatic stress disorder. All these conditions are associated with high levels of distress and disability, especially during the acute phases of these illnesses. The Study also revealed that nearly 60 percent of all inmates have at least one major personality disorder.
However double-bunking is completely unacceptable and the announcement comes after the Chief Ombudsman's report against the practice. Although vociferous in opposition, while in opposition, the Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis 'after weighing up best-practice' now only describes the practice as 'not the best' and then goes on to defend the cells that are smaller than European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) recommends.
While undoubtedly not on a scale experienced in some overseas prisons, corruption in NZ's prisons is a problem and in the case of offender Stephen Mark Gotty, who repeatedly raped his cell-mate) corrections are very cagey as to how he was able to choose his cell-mate against regulations.
In the high security Waikeria prison inmates have been locked in their cells for up to 26 hours at a time. It is NOT OK to lock people into a cell with an abuser or potential abuser. Our prisons are not episodes of Porridge!
Ken Clearwater, who manages the group Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse, opposes double-bunking in prison, especially. "Corrections have to get away from the denial that this is happening within our prison system." Mr Clearwater said victims of prison rape were often too scared to report what has happened to them.
I don't know how anyone can pretend it's not a problem. Google 'rape double bunking NZ' gets 59,800 results. Every single study and report says Double bunking will lead to more rapes.
I don't know how any government can build a prison PLANNING for double-bunking, it's bloody criminal.