Should New Zealand export its prisoners?

Switzerland is considering it.

Switzerland has too many criminals and too few prisons.

Now the Justice Ministry is reportedly considering a proposal to export convicts to neighbouring France and Germany.

Swiss prisons chief Thomas Freytag told public broadcaster SRF in a program aired late Friday that the country’s correctional facilities are at more than 100 percent capacity.

Prisons in the French-speaking cantons (states) of western Switzerland are said to be particularly overcrowded.

It’s unclear when the Justice Ministry would decide on the plan, and whether France or Germany would be prepared to let Swiss inmates do their time there.

In recent years Switzerland has tightened its immigration rules for foreigners from the surrounding European Union, causing considerable political friction with its neighbours.

And it’s not a new idea.  

Switzerland isn’t the only rich European state to find itself with more prisoners than space. In December, Norwegian Justice Minister Anders Anundsen sent a request to his Swedish counterpart, Beatrice Ask, asking him if they could rent out some of Sweden’s prison space.

Norway reportedly has 1,200 people for whom prison cells are needed, with authorities warning the problem could pose a serious threat to law and order if it is not rectified.

A Swedish justice ministry spokesman said at the time it was not ready to comment on the proposal.

Norway locks up just 71 people per 100,000 of its population, just slightly above Sweden’s figure of 67 per 100,000.

In 2010, Belgium became the first country to send its inmates abroad after dispatching 500 inmates to the Netherlands in a 30 million euro ($41 million) a year deal.

As we saw with Philip Smith, he couldn’t wait to get back to a comfy New Zealand cell where he’s fed, gets full dental, medical, and is kept in a safe air conditions little private space.

I wonder if we should export our medium to long term inmates to one of our Pacific neighbours?  Good income for them.   Cheaper for us.  And the prisoners will absolutely love being in constant heat with less than ideal conditions.

We should give this a bit of a think.


– AP, RT

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

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