The Government is planning major reforms to the criminal justice sector to address severe prison overcrowding and rising costs.
- Govt advised to take 'urgent action' to avoid prison failure
- The shocking vulnerability of New Zealand's prisoners
Documents obtained by Newshub Nation under the Official Information Act (OIA) advising the Government on potential reform say that spending in the criminal justice sector has tripled in the past 20 years.
The spending has grown twice as fast as any other sector and three times as fast as GDP.
The documents stress the limited effectiveness of purely punitive measures and suggest rehabilitation may be more effective at lowering prisoner populations.
Labour earmarked $300 million for 1800 new police officers in Budget 2018. Ministry of Justice advice says that for every thousand extra police, there'd be another 400 people in prison, but Police Minister Stuart Nash told Newshub Nation that wouldn't be the case.
"It may sound a little bit counterintuitive, but more police out there actually means less people in prison, because you're preventing crime," he said.
"If you're in your community, you know who's mad, who's bad, who needs to be dragged in front of a judge, but also who needs to be given some sort of alternative or dispute resolution process, then you can do that."
New Zealand has a high rate of imprisonment compared to the rest of the world. There are 220 inmates per 100,000 citizens here, compared to the OECD average of 147 per 100,000.
Justice Minister Andrew Little has confirmed the Three Strikes law will be repealed in two weeks with further changes to follow.