Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A lighter shade of jail

Holy restorative justice! Someone must be putting something in cabinet ministers’ tea. First it was Bill English raising eyebrows left, right and centre—but mainly left—by declaring that prisons are a ‘moral and fiscal failure’ and the Government will build no more of them. Now Judith Collins is saying the same thing. Is this a pitch for the liberal lovey-dovey vote or what? Okay, so they haven’t exactly explained what their alternatives are, enlightened or otherwise, and what’s going to happen to all those people being sentenced to longer terms under the Government’s (up to now, anyway) get-tough penal policy, but it’s a start. We’ll take it. We just need some reassurance that in their eyes the real failure is moral, not fiscal, otherwise the whole thing might look like just another excuse for cutting state spending. Or, worse, a reason to unload more and more responsibility for incarceration onto the private sector. Can moral failure be privatized? Probably.

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