Source: (2006) Auckland, NZ: Salvation Army Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit.

This discussion document has been written to contribute to the debate in New Zealand surrounding the increasing number of people being imprisoned. The issues surrounding our justice system in general, and prisons in particular are complex. The question of New Zealand’s imprisonment rate is inter-linked with many others. Issues relating to crime prevention, family and community functioning, values, and the structure and operation of our criminal justice system are relevant to any discussion about prison. Given this complexity it is probably not surprising that the literature surrounding the topic of prison is mountainous, the data complicated, and both are often not user-friendly to the non-expert. One discussion document cannot offer a comprehensive review of the literature, explain all the data, or cover all the issues pertinent to prisons and we have not attempted to so do. What we aim to do is offer an accessible discussion of the central concerns with respect to New Zealand’s levels of imprisonment. This paper therefore provides some factual information about the reality of New Zealand’s imprisonment rate, and using key New Zealand and international secondary research, identifies some of the problems with our current situation and potential alternatives to it. This discussion document is a starting point that invites further debate, research and action. (excerpt)

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