Richard Long goes on a turkey hunt against the gobblers of the left moaing about Crushers Container Prisons or Crim Tins as I like to call them. He has no shortage of targets with them all gobbling away begging to be shot at.
Why only two to a cell? When that suggestion replaced the blackboard menu outside a cafe in Ngaio, Wellington, a few months ago, it was clear the Government had won the “lock them up and throw away the key” argument.
Ngaio is one of those Labour- voting leafy suburbs, adjoining Wadestown, home of the chardonnay socialists. If the liberals cannot win the penal debate in these areas, then they have lost it completely.
Accordingly, when former Labour Party president Mike Williams was complaining on television at the weekend about the dangers of prison double- bunking, and described the new modular container prison cells as “Dickensian”, he was baying, so to speak, into the wind.
What on earth was Mike Williams asked for anyway? More importantly where is the current Labour President…hasn’t he just disappeared?
So was penal reformer Peter Williams when he fronted up on prime-time television against Corrections Minister Judith Collins. She has always been regarded as a bit of a shrieker, but she sat calmly, with a wan smile, while Peter Williams went completely over the top on the evil, degrading container cells proposal, predicting it would all end in failure and tears.
Out of touch, and out to lunch while we enjoy the turkey club sandwiches.
The critics lose touch with the electorate on this. They leave the impression that, even if Corrections offered to house their clients in the Holiday Inn and the Intercontinental, Messrs Williams and Williams would still find fault with the wine list.
The overall electorate view is that prisoners have it sweet. While many financially stretched households are turning off the heaters and curbing food bills, they view prisoners as having an easy life, in centrally heated accommodation, with three good meals a day.
Many will no doubt reason that, if more prisoners have to double-bunk, it might be a rather big disincentive to going to jail in the first place. The prospect of sharing your cell with a nasty piece of low life might help slow the escalation in the prison population – estimated to climb from the present 8300 to 12,500 by 2018.
Exactly, nothing would encourage me more to obey the law than the thoughts of sharing a 6m square cell with a 200kg prisoner named Bubba.
As for the container cells, taxpayers will welcome the cost reductions. At $248 a day, it costs as much to accommodate prisoners in our Corrections system as it would to put them up in a good hotel. The cost of the Spring Hill facility was a staggering $643,000 a bed. Plugging in the container cells to existing prison facilities with the infrastructure to support additional inmates will cost only $53,000 to $63,000 a bed.
AN ADVANTAGE of moving in this direction at the moment, with the world economic downturn, is that ports are littered with excess containers. And it was a brilliant touch to suggest that prisoners could learn rehabilitation skills by helping to adapt the containers for their own use.
Corrections chief Barry Matthews won further points when he was asked what prisoners thought of the container proposal. “I’m not interested in what the prisoners think,” he said.
Finally someone in the media gets the numbers right, rather than simply repeating the numbers that Clayton Cosgrove reefed out of is arse. On Barry Mtthews, he certainly needed some points as he was certainly plumbing the depths of low scores until he saw the light and endorsed Crusher’s thoughts. I think he must have felt the cold steely stare of the Minister for longer than he cared to and has now had a subsequent attitude adjustment.
By harping on about “Dickensian” prison conditions, Labour is managing to leave the impression that it wants to indulge prisoners with spa pools and feather pillows. It would be a better political tactic to concentrate on more effective rehabilitation programmes in a bid to reduce our awful recidivism rate of about 70 per cent.
Oh they do, they do, heated floors, Plasma TV’s….that is prisons under Labour. I and the electorate by the looks of it prefer Crushers vision for our prisons.