The announcement that some prisons are to be closed ought to be good news.
In an interview on Q&A yesterday Finance Minister Bill English said:
BILL Well, look, we’d be better not having to lock more people up, but the fact is there are bad people out there who should be locked up. There are also very old prisons that we can’t continue to use because they’re not effective and they’re, in some cases, inhumane. So it’s an expenditure we have to have. The good news is that where we were told a couple of years ago we’d need two or three new prisons, there’s going to be one, and that’ll be it.
SHANE We’re told you’re going to close down two prisons to build a new one.
BILL Well, there’s a number of prisons that should be closed because they’re so old and they don’t work to help with dealing with recidivism and just humane treatment of prisoners.
SHANE But can you confirm to us this morning that there will be two prisons closed down?
BILL Uh, no, I can’t confirm that. There’s work going on now. What I can say is there are likely to be the closures of some prisons.
I take it from this transcript that old, inhumane prisons which aren’t effective are to be replaced by something better; and that instead of the three that were forecast now only one is needed.
But what makes the headlines in the news: prison closures could lead to job losses.
Prisons aren’t there to provide jobs. They are there to punish people who’ve committed crimes. protect us from them and rehabilitate them.
The possibility of job losses will be upsetting for those effected but it isn’t an argument for keeping prisons which either aren’t needed or are no longer fit for purpose.