More support proposed for released prisoners

Currently prisoners are released from prison with $350, only if they have photo ID. Immediate job prospects for many of them will be poor. It must be difficult to get set up and survive. It must be easy for them to quickly go back to old acquaintances and old habits, with a high chance of reoffending.

60% of prisoners are re-convicted within two years of release – but they will start re-offending sooner, possibly much sooner. And this only measures those who get caught.

NZ Herald: Released prisoners set up to fail due to poor support – justice advisory group

The Government is being urged to increase the amount of money it gives prisoners when they are released – if it wants them to stay out of jail.

The head of an advisory group on justice reforms said a payment of just $350 was setting prisoners up to fail, and many of them couldn’t even access it.

Chester Borrows, a former National Party Minister and chair of the Safe and Effective Justice Programme Advisory Group, wants the payment to double.

He said poor support was a major factor contributing to a high rate of reoffending.

Doubling it to $700 may not make much difference. You can’t survive for long on that.

The group will make recommendations to the Government to improve the criminal justice system – described by Justice Minister Andrew Little as “broken” – in an interim report in March, and a final report in August.

Little told the Herald he looked forward to the reports, but agreed that released prisoners needed more support.

Released prisoners can only get the $350, called the Steps to Freedom grant, if they have photo ID to set up a bank account. Many ex-prisoners did not have this, Borrows said.

“That’s supposed to give them accommodation and keep them fed for two weeks until their first benefit or pay packet”.

“If you’ve got to rent a room, you’ve got to pay a bond and usually a couple of week’s rent in advance – how are you going to do that? And you’re coming out with nothing in your cupboards. How much are two weeks’ groceries?

“And if they keep you in Christchurch because there’s no room in the Auckland Prison, and then release you in Christchurch and don’t pay for you to get home, how does that person get back to their family support? You would have to say that these people are set up to fail.”

I suspect that some people will not support ‘hand outs’ for crims, but the alternative, returning to a life of crime and ending up in prison again, will be a lot more expensive, and not just through the cost of incarceration but also the cost of crime to yhe public.


Trans-Pacific Partnership text to be released today

Scoop: Govt to release CPTPP national interest analysis on Wed

The government will release the national interest analysis for the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership on Wednesday, and the full text too if the other nations agree, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The Labour-led administration signed up to the regional trade and investment pact after the renegotiated deal let it restrict foreign buyers of existing residential property and watered down some of the more onerous Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions imposed before the US withdrew under President Donald Trump.

Ardern today said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s analysis unpicking the pros and cons of the deal for the country will be released on Wednesday, and she’s hopeful of publishing the full text the same day if certain translation issues are overcome.

“We have been urging all parties to reach agreement because of our strong desire to be absolutely transparent around the text as soon as possible,” Ardern said at her weekly post-Cabinet press conference. “It is our hope it will be available at the same time as the national impact assessment, but either way, we’re looking to release the national impact assessment this week.”

The deal is expected to be signed in Chile on March 8, but Ardern said it won’t come into force until it’s ratified by 50 percent of the partners. Parliament will debate the agreement and that it will also go through select committee scrutiny for a full public examination, she said.

From New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade: Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a free trade agreement involving 11 countries in the Pacific region, including New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Viet Nam.

Partnering with these countries represents a huge opportunity for New Zealand. The Agreement has the potential to open up new export destinations for our businesses, create jobs, and help generate a better standard of living for all New Zealanders.  At the same time, the Government‘s right to regulate in the public interest and the unique status of the Treaty of Waitangi have been protected.

The government is releasing the Cabinet negotiating mandate for CPTPP and the minute of the Cabinet decision. In releasing this information, the government is seeking to balance introducing greater transparency around trade negotiations with a need to take into account the sensitive nature of the negotiations. Some of the information within the Cabinet paper is being withheld in line with the principles of the Official Information Act. The government will release further information on CPTPP as it becomes available, including a full National Interest Analysis.

Read the Cabinet negotiating mandate here [PDF, 6 MB].