Hunger strike new way to get early release

The New Zealand National Party

The Department of Corrections decision to release a prisoner on hunger strike is an alarming indicator of the culture that Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis has built within the organisation, National’s Corrections spokesperson David Bennett says.

“Kelvin Davis has promised to reduce the prison population by 15 per cent in 30 years but it appears his plan is just to release as many offenders as possible. Now it seems you can get released from prison just by staging a protest.

“Corrections has released Frances Shaw rather than deal with a difficult prisoner and as a result we now have a recidivist offender with an extensive criminal record living in our community. Corrections should have dealt with Mr Shaw inside prison, rather than just releasing him.

“This decision sets a dangerous precedent and has essentially opened the floodgates.

“What tactics will prisoners try next to force Corrections’ hand? This is just one example of offenders taking advantage of Corrections’ prisoner focused, rather than justice and victim focused, approach.

“What does it say about the state of our justice system when even the prisoner himself didn’t think he should have been released?

“This Government’s soft on crime attitude has filtered down into Corrections and it’s reacting to it.

“Kelvin Davis’ reforms haven’t worked and now he has turned to early release as a way to meet his arbitrary prison population target. Yet pushing for this only results in offenders not serving their time, victims are not being prioritised and more dangerous individuals are living in our communities.

“It is clear that Kelvin Davis is desperate to reduce the prison population by any means necessary and it’s our communities that are paying the price.”

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