....Locking away criminals for life would only spark violence from prisoners with nothing to lose, Dr Nikkel said. "It's an end-product of this public hysteria, that we have to see justice done. It becomes a security issue – these people have no hope for the end of their sentence. What have they got to lose?"

Yesterday, at Upper Hutt's Rimutaka Prison, he saw cells made this year from converted shipping containers. "I've never encountered anything like that before." However, he said they were OK if they had proper ventilation and light.

The three-strikes law includes a graduated sentencing scale for 40 serious violent offences. A third conviction will bring the maximum sentence for that offence with no parole.

Prison Fellowship International focused on restorative justice, Dr Nikkel said. "I have yet to meet a monster and I've visited death row." He has been to more than 1000 prisons worldwide in 35 years.

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Note: Restorative Justice Online is a programme of Prison Fellowship International.