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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  • conwaycaptain

    Samoa and Tonga could make money out of it and the PI crims could spend their time at home

  • dgrogan

    Yeah. Why not. The Auckland Islands would do nicely. It’s only 465 nm from the Mainland. It won’t cost the taxpayer anything in rent. Free passage one-way and we’ll send someone back in a few years, just incase any of them were to survive. We’d not want to be too harsh after all.

    • The Accountant

      “Escape from Absolum” style

      • dgrogan

        In that case, it might be better not to bring the survivors back, as they’d be well beyond rehabilitation.

    • peterwn

      The Greenies would get all upset.

  • Huia

    I would like to see all “new” New Zealanders, and people who have applied for residency here, who then commit crimes be returned to their country of origin, have their NZ passports and citizenship revoked and any visiting in the future is not going to happen. Done deal, you cant live by our rules then your are history.
    Same as these fools who continually try to smuggle food into the country at the border, if its over a certain amount then you are going back to China or where ever you originated from. The $200 fine is not enough when you have three bags of bloody ducks feet, seeds, weeds and pickled roosters balls etc, you are trying to smuggle in things which are dangerous to our environment. You don’t give two tosses about our country so we should have no tolerance for you. I don’t care if you suddenly forget how to speak English when you are questioned about it, the declaration card is in your language and you should abide by it especially if you have been residing in NZ for some time. Its an abuse of your right to live here and you are done.

    • Cadwallader

      I accept he hasn’t committed a crime but could Russell Norman be included? Please!

      • Huia

        First on the list Cadwallader, just for being such a total dick he deserves returning to the big red place (right in to the middle). The lizards and snakes would love him but don’t know whether even they need that kind of punishment.

      • Wheninrome

        I am sure we could find a crime that might fit. Stretch the boundaries of sedition and put it back on the Statute book.

      • Steve (North Shore)

        Send him to Tibet and give him his flag to take with him

    • Albert Lane

      So, Huia, when are you going to be standing for parliament? We surely are crazy here, particularly with immigrants. Any immigrant or refugee who is convicted of a serious crime within ten years of their arrival should not be imprisoned, but immediately deported to their original country of origin, together with their immediate family and any other relatives who have arrived as a result of an application from that family. No if’s, no but’s no maybes. And any New Zealander who is imprisoned, sorry, if you have been sentenced to ten years, that’s what you have to do.

      • Huia

        Wouldn’t last one day in parliament, would cross the floor and punch someone for wasting time and the sheer stupidity of their behavior and time wasting, I could NOT stand there and say sorry for it, so would be thrown out. End of career.
        I agree, ten years should be ten years and not 5, then out in three because you found the Almighty.
        Murder should be life and a choice to stay in for that length of time with no hope of getting out, or the murderers choice to end it there and then.
        I wouldn’t make any friends in places of authority and justice and I’m not sorry for being a woman or an un PC dragon.

        • Albert Lane

          We don’t need a referendum to decide on a new flag. We need a referendum to decide on more serious matters. We desperately need MPs like you.

  • Eiselmann

    Its not a bad idea…it would provide the local island economy with a huge boost…can’t see the down side, which means the civil liberties people will hate it.

  • dgrogan

    Of course it’s by no means a new idea. Britain exported its criminals to Van Diemen’s Land and New South Wales quite successfully for years. It’s turned out alright too.

    • sin-ic

      Careful there. OZ’s population was directed there by the best Judges in Blighty.

      • Bobb

        Lucky bastards. We had to buy our own tickets.

  • Salad Dodger

    Naboro in Suva would be good for worst while George Speights old fantasy Island base of Nukulau would be perfect for the rest.
    Pay Fiji $50k per annum per prisoner and it is a real win win

    • Tom

      Why should we pay $50k? $200 per year of rice and a can of spam per week on Campbell Island will save my taxes being squandered on useless turds

  • Michael_l_c

    Whilst shipping our prisoners off shore is very attractive be warned that human rights will rear it’s ugly head. We would end up paying for relatives to fly there to visit. If for example the offshore prison was somewhere warm & pleasant we would be providing relatives with holidays that most of us pay $ thousands for.

    • peterwn

      They can use Skype – it can be the one exception to the prohibition on PC’s. I doubt the British or French governments paid rellies’ fares to Australia / Devil’s Island to visit prisoners.

    • Dave

      A simple solution, written into the Human Rights act. You have full human rights, until you seriously breach another humans rights, then you lose your rights, all of them at the courts discretion, and no corespondance shall be entered into. You have been warned.

  • Pluto

    Malaysia seems to know how to handle people who deal in P, that would be a good start.

  • Hard1

    Pitcairn Island is desperate for immigration. Population under 100 now.

    • sin-ic

      Auckland Island is better. No residents, and a ready-made occupational therapy of bui8lding their own accomodation, and catching their own food. No spare time for crime. Bad weather, a bonus.

    • Old Man, Torbay.

      Pitcairners are not that desperate. Apart from a few hiccups, they’re good folk.

      • Goldfish

        That would be an appropriate place for them. The original settlers were arguably criminals, and there’s been intra-family criminal issues ever since.

    • Rick H

      And, they already now have a few jail cells built.

  • Eddie Nunns

    And take it to the next level As reported in Stuff this morning.

    A Kiwi murderer is being released from prison in Australia and sent back to New Zealand.

    Julius Graff was jailed for 23 years in 1998 for a string of violent attacks, including the murder of taxi driver Youssef Chmeis in Sydney.

    His rampage left two other men with permanent brain damage and severely handicapped. He was convicted of murder and robbery.

    Then Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison cancelled Graff’s Australian visa last October, saying his crimes were “contrary to values held by the Australian community”, NZME reported.

    Graff’s family in Australia unsuccessfully appealed the decision in court.

    His father, Joe Graff, told NZME his son was no threat to the public.

    “He’s a new man. He has seen a lot of psychologists, a hell of a lot of programmes, and he’s been doing everything that they wanted him to.”

    Graff was due to be released soon and was likely to live in Christchurch where he had been an accomplished artist. He would try to get a job in construction, NZME reported.

    His brother Barry said Graff had a better chance of a good life in Australia.

    Australia was “chucking” him over to New Zealand where he had no family, the brother said.

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    Graff grew up in New Zealand and Australia, but has been living in Australia for 21 years, NZME reported.

    With fellow Kiwi Davina Leaituaalesi and another youth, Graff battered the taxi driver to death, by whipping him with his own belt, and punching and kicking him, before driving off in his car.

    In September 1998 Justice Graham Barr in the New South Wales Supreme Court sentenced Julius Graff, then 22, to 23 years in jail.

    Leaituaalesi was jailed for 16 years and a 19-year-old, referred to only as RT because he was a juvenile at the time of the murder, was sentenced to a minimum of 17 years.

    All three pleaded guilty to murdering Youssef Chmeis at Punchbowl in southwest Sydney on May 25, 1996.

    They also pleaded guilty to robbing another taxi driver, Hassan Bazzi, at nearby Riverwood 10 days earlier.

  • Tom

    Can’t we just send them to Aussie like the old days. It would increase the IQ by lots.

  • Albert Lane

    I believe we should sub-contract out our policing, court and prison services to the Singapore authorities. It wouldn’t be long before we could leave our front doors unlocked again.

  • Bart67

    Well, the Chatam Islands are looking for a new industry.

  • Wheninrome

    If they are not Kiwi born, or NZ citizens, yes. In fact, if they have been granted PR or are now NZ citizens and commit crimes which require a term of imprisonment then out they should go, back to where they came from.

  • Dave

    Think of the spin off industries…….
    Building prison cells out of shipping containers
    Shipping them on a barge to their offshore prison (preferably in winter)
    Training the new prison guards in target practise.
    Developing a coin based Skype phone for their 10 minute monthly communications at $10 a minute.

  • Wheninrome

    We still kick overstayers out. I remember many years back an Irishman who was an “overstayer” tried to get political asylum after he was found out, turned down and he, wife and children sent back to Ireland. It was claimed by the usual people that he would be killed by the IRA if he returned. Never did hear what happened to him.

  • Alfred12

    I think this is an excellent Aid program opportunity. We ship our inmates to Bangkok, pay the Thai authority’s say $15kpa, they make around $10k per prisoner, assuming it costs around NZ $5k to feed and water them. We save the thick end of $75k per prisoner and the Thais are on a good earner. Win Win all round.
    Think of the deterrent factor when or if they are returned to God Zone?
    The recidivist rate will be minimal.