Locking Up The Problem
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of imprisonment in the world and imprisons people at a rate second only to the United States, according to a study conducted by the United Kingdom Audit Office. Surprised at New Zealand’s high prison population, the authors conducted their only case study on New Zealand. They found despite New Zealand being ranked first in a global peace index which looked at issues such as corruption, violence and crime rates, only 57 per cent of New Zealanders felt safe, a rate comparable with Iran and Bulgaria. The study found that since the mid-1980s a “bidding war” between National and Labour over who was tougher on crime had led to a dramatic increase in the prison population. “This means the use of harsher sentences without reference to their impact on crime trends or generally agreed opinion about their penal effectiveness,” the report said.