Nation: Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis on reducing prisoner numbers

I think it’s fair to say that Kelvin Davis has been quite disappointing in his public appearances as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Corrections.

He has taken part in this week’s Justice Summit, which has been trying to kick off discussions on how to reduce the currently surging prisoner numbers.

As Davis is also Minister for Crown/Māori Relations, and about half of male prisoners and a greater proportion of female prisoners are Maori, he has some work to do to try to address things.

Kelvin Davis (NZH): Letting prisoners vote brings them closer to society and takes them further from crime

Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis has spoken in favour of prisoners having the right to vote, saying it is an important part of reducing reoffending.

He said those who had been in prison were more likely to offend – and in doing so, create more victims of crime – if they were excluded from society.

I think there’s likely to be much more important factors than being able to vote.

Davis was a constant throughout the summit with his department, Corrections, coming in for greater scrutiny and criticism than others in the justice system.

He spent the two days speaking to attendees from the stage, listening to criticism from the floor and later seeking out critics to better understand their frustration.

For Davis, it is personal. Maori are far more likely than non-Maori to be victims of crime – and more likely to be revictimised.

Maori make up 15 per cent of the population but 51 per cent of the prison population – and half of those inmates are Ngapuhi, as is Davis.

“These are family, these are friends, these are whanaunga (relatives) of mine – I want my tribe to succeed in every way possible, culturally, socially, economically. We’re not going to do that by locking people up.”

The discussion about reforming the criminal justice system was easier with Maori, he said, because the disproportionate burden felt by Maori meant “they get it straight away”.
Justice statistics show Maori have 660 people per 100,000 in prison against New Zealand European numbers of 93 per 100,000.

Davis said: “It’s harder with other parts of the general population.”

Odd comments. It seems that Maori don’t get what they need to take ownwership of and responsibility for in order to reduce their high crime, imprisonment and recidivism rates.

Newshub Nation this morning: As the Government’s Criminal Justice Summit draws to a close, Lisa Owen asks Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis how he’ll achieve the bold target of reducing inmate numbers by 30 per cent in 15 years

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says the govt has reduced the prison population by 600 in six months – but he wants more ideas about how to reduce it further. It’s a good start he says.

Lisa Owen puts to Davis that the increase in police numbers will result in more prisoners – there’s an OIA saying that – Davis is emphasising the police taking a preventative approach.

18 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  August 25, 2018

    “It seems that Maori don’t get…”
    Bold claim there, Pete; got a good idea of what “Maori” think, do you? Have you also got a good idea of what “Pakeha” think? Chinese? Women? Children? How do they think?

    • If ‘Maori’ got the problems of crime, violence, family dysfunction, abuse and poor education outcomes then I think they would have (or should have) been doing more to address the problems.

    • sorethumb

       /  August 25, 2018

      Maori have a head-fulll from post-modernist/post-colonialists: a toxic meta narrative of victimhood (“all the land was stolen”)
      [18:45]

  2. David

     /  August 25, 2018

    Why cant individuals take responsibility for their own actions, its blatantly obvious what the problem is but all we get is a hand wringing minister lining up excuses.
    English was making some progress but with the Maori party holding sway it was half hearted. Address the dysfunction at the family level and if that means uplifting kids and placing them not with whanau to give them some semblance of chance at life. If your neighbour/friend/relation has their kid uplifted for poor parenting then it might motivate you to take better damn care of your own.

  3. PDB

     /  August 25, 2018

    “Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says the govt has reduced the prison population by 600 in six months”

    When did this happen and how? I can’t find anything on the net that backs this claim up?

    • I don’t think it was followed up on by Owens. She may have had no information on it.

      I’m not aware of any significant changes to sentencing guidelines or parole.

      • PDB

         /  August 25, 2018

        As far as I’m aware nothing has changed as yet. Seems a big statement for Owens to let go without seeking further clarification considering it seems unlikely that this occurred naturally? Either a lie/exaggeration by Davis or the new govt has changed something behind the scenes without making it public.

        The obvious question is if 600 can be magically reduced in just 6 months somehow then why the panic over prisoner numbers down the line?

        • Gezza

           /  August 25, 2018

          Owen is useless as an interviewer. She always has her own agenda & if what she’s hearing fits it she doesn’t question or challenge it.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  August 25, 2018

            600 isn’t a huge % of prisoners, but it would be an impressive number if it was genuine – and a newsworthy one, far more interesting tnan a drawn out, teeeeeeejus story about an American autistic boy who loves Van Gogh’s painting of the sky.

            It doesn’t make sense that there are both more and fewer at the same time.

          • Gezza

             /  August 25, 2018

            Actually I take back what I said. Having now watched the full interview, Owen did a thorough grilling in that session. She did attempt several times to find out how the number has reduced by 600. Kelvin just kept saying it was due to various initiatives & innovative approaches – including, I think, by police – that among other things have resulted in fewer people being sent to prison. Kelvin kept mentioning a High Impact Innovation Programme – whatever that is.

  4. What’s an appropriate way to deal with this sort of offending?

    “This was extreme, unprovoked violence … a prolonged attack on two victims, increasing in seriousness.”

    First Luafitu punched the man in the face – an assault for which she was not charged – before moving on to a woman.

    Multiple punches sent the victim to the ground and the defendant inflicted a flurry of further blows as she lay there.

    Luafitu dragged a second woman to the ground by her hair with such ferocity she ripped a clump from her scalp.

    As the “defenceless and disorientated” woman curled up to try to protect herself, the defendant stomped on her head three times.

    She threw several punches and then kicked the victim in the back six times before she was hauled away.

    The victim sustained four cracked ribs, internal bleeding and bruising to her lungs. She was missing hair from behind her left ear, the court heard, and suffered a fractured right cheekbone, broken teeth and excruciating headaches for days after the attack.

    The other woman had an injured jaw but the psychological impact was worse.

    “She already had problems with severe anxiety and this has totally multiplied that,” Judge Phillips said.

    Luafitu, he said, minimised her violence and the role alcohol played in her life.

    She underwent a drug and alcohol assessment during which, the judge believed, she attempted to disguise her “very serious issues with alcohol”.

    Already a mother of one, it was revealed in court yesterday that Luafitu had a second child due in February.

    • PDB

       /  August 25, 2018

      Offenders not facing up to/ not being aware of what they really are. Some lessons I feel here to the high Maori offending rate which Davis is more and more suggesting (incorrectly) is mainly down to some sort of racial stereotyping/ bias within our justice system.

      “Helen Luafitu (22) later said: “I’m an angry person but not a violent person”.”

      “First Luafitu punched the man in the face – an assault for which she was not charged – before moving on to a woman. Multiple punches sent the victim to the ground and the defendant inflicted a flurry of further blows as she lay there.”. “Luafitu dragged a second woman to the ground by her hair with such ferocity she ripped a clump from her scalp.
      As the “defenceless and disorientated” woman curled up to try to protect herself, the defendant stomped on her head three times. She threw several punches and then kicked the victim in the back six times”. “The victim sustained four cracked ribs, internal bleeding and bruising to her lungs. She was missing hair from behind her left ear, the court heard, and suffered a fractured right cheekbone, broken teeth and excruciating headaches for days after the attack.”

    • Corky

       /  August 25, 2018

      This seems to be a trait amongst Island women. They go off the handle very easily. And the violence is extreme. I have witnessed three similar incidents. One inside a supermarket. I call it the third world mentality. The type dragging our nation down.

      So, the the judge sums things up well. Then this:

      Luafitu was sentenced to nine months’ home detention and 200 hours’ community work and ordered to pay sums of $750 and $500 to her victims.

      Wow.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  August 25, 2018

        Why am I not surprised that you claim to have seen this sort of thing three times ?

        It’s racist nonsense to say that Pacifika women behave like this when the vast majority don’t.

  5. NOEL

     /  August 25, 2018

    No problem with the vote thingy just that it should be towards the end of the sentence.
    Same with vocational training. Why do we have those facilities behind the wire.
    Prisoners should earn those right and show that they are prepared to change.
    Breach that trust and you finish you sentence the old way.

    To many recidivists simply ticking the boxes without considering what is been asked.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  August 25, 2018

      I like training prisoners to be tradies. better than having them on the dole waiting to go back inside.

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