'Everything is on the table for justice reform' - Andrew Little

Justice Minister Andrew Little says "everything" is on the table when it comes to justice reform, including changes to bail, parole and sentencing laws.

Mr Little said on Newshub Nation this morning that the current model "isn't good enough" and the 60 percent reoffending rate within two years points to a "failure" in 30 years of punitive criminal justice policy.

The minister says a suite of changes is being considered but a focus on rehabilitation underpins the Government's proposals.

"We will have to look at the parole act, the bail act, and the sentencing council - get some cohesion around our sentencing,

"But I think the real game changer is what we can do inside our prisons, and how we can make it systematic across our prison network."

National's Mark Mitchell has strongly criticised the Government's proposed changes, particularly softening bail laws, saying that 98 percent of prisoners are 'serious criminals' who would be a danger if released.

The minister rejected that assertion, saying Mr Mitchell "has his figure wrong".

"Over half the prisoners who enter the prison system in any one year are there for non-violent [offences], what I would characterise as 'low-level' offences."

The minister says that of the criminals remanded in custody (those who are in prison awaiting trial or sentencing) 59 percent get a custodial sentence - but 41 percent do not.

"The numbers alone tell you, we've calibrated our remand decision-making the wrong way. We are remanding too many in custody."

The Government recently scrapped plans for a 'mega-prison' at Waikeria, instead they plan to replace the high-security unit with a 500-bed unit, and build a 100-bed mental health facility.

Advice received by the Justice Ministry and released to Newshub Nation states that unless significant changes are made, a new prison will be required every two to three years.

The same advice also stated that unless the prison population is lowered by a certain amount by 2019, there was potential for a 'failure of the prison system'.

That exact figure was left redacted however, the minister says he will go back to  "consider" making the number public.

The minister says while repealing the three strikes law is "off the table for now" due to resistance form New Zealand First, it may be considered "further down the line".

Mr Little says substantial change will not happen until after a 'justice summit' in August.  There will also be a justice advisory panel.

"I want to see us be more science based and more evidence based than we have been for a long time."

Who will be on the summit and advisory panel is still unknown but the minister said he will ensure victims are represented in discussions by carefully chosen advocates.


"We don't want nutters on it, we want good victims advocates who are genuinely about improving the place of victims in our system."

The summit is currently set for August 21.

Watch the video for the full interview.

Newshub Nation.

Watch Newshub Nation 9:30am Saturday/10am Sunday on TV3, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Newshub Nation is supported by NZ On Air.