Over-representation of Maori in NZ prisons; why?

I wrote this essay for an assignment last year in my sociology paper, but I thought this would be a good piece to post as it expresses a lot of my perspective, my thought process as well as the things I am learning about.

The New Zealand prison population reflects an overrepresentation of Maori in our prisons. Maori make up only 14.6% of our total population, but represent 51% of our prison population (Wright, 2016). Although this may be a simple reflection of Maori involvement in crime, the application of sociological analysis can help us to acknowledge the presence of societal contributions. It is important to consider both if we are to fully understand this overrepresentation. There are three social influences that I believe have contributed to this. This includes the colonisation of New Zealand, racial discrimination, and the poverty that has come as a result.

Colonialism means that one ethnic group needs to succumb to the more dominant ethnic group, which is often done through the process of oppression. Oppression is used by the coloniser to suppress the beliefs, values and traditions of the indigenous culture (Gabbidon, 2010). If those within the indigenous culture refuse to assimilate (that is, give up their own culture to fully ascribe to the new culture), they are subject to alienation, while those who have assimilated lose sense of their cultural identity. When a colonial society has been established, the coloniser remains superior to the colonised, and therefore this assumption is sustained over generations through socialisation (Gabbidon, 2010). Latter generations receive this burden their ancestors imposed on them, therefore the impact of colonisation is still in effect. Alienation within this context can be used to support the overrepresentation of Maori in our prisons, as exclusion from mainstream society and the deprivation of their culture and land can result in criminal behaviour (White & Habibis, 2005).

It is important to note that the terms ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ are socially constructed, and that the groups we are categorized into are not based on biological information, but society’s perception of these groups (Webster, 2007). Humans share 99.99% of their genetic makeup, thus we cannot conclude that violence or crime is a trait of a particular ethnicity, but more so a result of the way they are perceived and treated within society (Gabbidon, 2010; Vodanovich, 2013). With this information, we can conclude that the alienation that has resulted from colonisation could in fact be a major contributor to both the overrepresentation of Maori in prisons, and the likelihood that they will be involved in crime. Since the beginning of colonisation, the Maori prison population has consistently risen; between the 1930’s and 1950’s the percentage rose from 11 to 40 (McIntosh & Goldmann, 2017). To look at this evidence neutrally, it could be a reflection of the Maori population itself increasing or the establishment of a stricter justice system. With that observation aside, when we compare this to the European representation of 33% of the prison population, there is the possibility there is another process at play here (StatsNZ, 2012).

This is where we need to acknowledge the role that racial discrimination plays in the overrepresentation of Maori in prisons. Because race is one of many ways that society ranks individuals, the concept of ‘race’ becomes ‘racism’ when it is used an excuse for the social, cultural and political exclusion of ethnic groups (Vodanovich, 2013). Colonial societies are heavily racist, one might even say that the feeling of superiority is what drives colonisation itself and could also be recognised as the creator of the “criminal” stigmatisation of Maori prevalent within our society.

The perception of ethnic groups is maintained predominantly through the media. This is because the elite have the power to decide what news to report, and align the content with mainstream beliefs (which they themselves have created) to reproduce these perceptions to a mass audience (Barnes, 2017; Schmidt, 2017). Controlling images within the media have been used to shape the public’s perception of Maori, especially to develop the association of Maori as being violent (Norris, 2017; McCreanor et al., 2014). Common sense understandings are both created and fuelled by the sensationalisation of violent crimes, encouraging the public to believe that crime rates are increasing, even when evidence proves otherwise (McIntosh & Goldmann, 2017; Schmidt, 2017). This is how the media contributes to the maintenance of colonial hegemony (McCreanor et al., 2014; Schmidt, 2017). These common sense understandings are a problem because they contribute to the stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination of Maori, which results in minimal opportunities for Maori. This affects their social interactions, levels of employment and their experience in the criminal justice system (McCreanor et al., 2014).

There is research that supports that ethnic minorities receive harsher treatment within the criminal justice system, and that even at the point of apprehension, they are overrepresented (White & Habibis, 2005). Braithwaite (1979) discusses the relationship between class and crime and how the same applies to those within the lower class. He suggests that middle class people “have more highly developed skills in manipulating such negotiation processes than do the lower classes”. Class is important to acknowledge within this context as a higher class usually means more cultural capital; the knowledge and understanding of the dominant group within society (Schmidt, 2017). In relation to crime, cultural capital may be used to negotiate with a police officer during apprehension, thus those lacking cultural capital are more likely to be arrested. Police target “suspect populations” for surveillance and intervention (which is often young individuals from the lower class who spend a lot of time on the street), resulting in over-policing (White & Habibis, 2005; Webster, 2007). It could be argued whether or not this implies institutional racism (conscious or subconscious), or if it is simply due to the large representation of Maori within this category.

I would like to discuss colonisation and racial discrimination on the terms of being contributors to Maori poverty within New Zealand, and poverty in turn being a primary driver of crime (White & Habibis, 2005; McIntosh & Goldmann, 2017). Our New Zealand prisons are primarily punitive and lack an effective process of rehabilitation. In 2015, 36.5% of those released from prison, were reimprisoned within 24 months of their release (Johnston, 2016). This is a major issue because not only does it contribute to the overrepresentation, it further excludes an individual from mainstream society, which is largely why they ended up in prison in the first place, and why they are even more likely to reoffend (McIntosh & Goldmann, 2017). Statistics show that Maori and Pasifika are overrepresented in poverty, with crime rates being higher within these poorer communities (McIntosh & Goldmann, 2017). This is where we can bring in the concept of class once again, as inequalities and poverty are often indicators of class. White and Habibis (2005) state that “difficulties experienced by youth ethnic minorities is inextricably linked to their class situation”. A youth’s class is usually determined by that of their parent’s, which also suggests that youth experience social and economic exclusion based on something beyond their control (White & Habibis, 2005). The children of prisoners in New Zealand feel the effects of this burden, often by being excluded from “central public institutions such as healthcare, housing, and political participation” (McIntosh & Goldmann, 2017). Continuous exclusion of minority groups will not stop the crime, it will only drive it. Marginalised individuals are expected to fit into mainstream society, but are deprived of the institutions that will supply them with the cultural capital necessary for it.

Poverty on its own is not a driver of crime, it is a consequence of the colonisation and racial discrimination that has disallowed them to fit into society’s expectation of a “moral” human being. Therefore, I have come to conclude that colonial superiority has created a seemingly endless cycle within our society, which has contributed to the overrepresentation of Maori in prisons. Those who feel superior attempt to colonise those who they see as inferior, which in turn maintains hegemonic power; superiority fuels racial discrimination; racial discrimination contributes to social exclusion thus leading to poverty; poverty and inequalities then enforce crime; criminal behaviour aligns with society’s expectations of these individuals, and therefore the cycle continues.


The World Without Money

It’s difficult to imagine the world without money, mainly so because it subconsciously rules our lives. To come to terms with this idea, you need to eliminate every idea you have that surrounds money. These are things like your job, education, your family, your friends, how you raise your children and how you live.

Money is the one of the world’s most controlling substances, alongside religion. The power that is has over every living person on this planet is horrifying, with its ability to create competition, greed, envy, poverty, crime and war. This is exactly how those in power want it to be. The monetary system is an endless cycle of inflation and debt, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. While the countries who own majority of the money in the world; the countries with those suffering in poverty get worse and worse. The most angering part of this is that a positive change is possible, but those in power do not want to lose their power, or their money.

I think the saddest and scariest part of its control over us is that when you try to imagine a world without it, you think, “How will I get this?”, “Can I still have a nice house and a nice car?”, “What’s the point in getting a good education if I can’t get paid for being good at something?”. Those are just some examples of how we are so consumed by this system, which is exactly how it is planned to be. I myself am guilty of having a similar train of thought when first considering it. The world needs to be about unity, working together for the benefit of our planet. It should be about doing what you’re good at, and every individual being given equal opportunities so that we can effectively create a society and sustain a healthy home for ourselves. The land is ours to live off, everything we need is already here for us. The monetary system tells us we must pay every time we want to plant a crop, we have to pay for things that literally naturally occur in our soils!

I also noticed a common trend when I was researching for this blog post, that when asked about the removal of the monetary system, people are quick to assume that it should be replaced by the old barter system. If you are not aware of barter: it is a system of exchange where goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money. The whole purpose of this is to get rid of the concept that our objects must have value, and that some form of trade is necessary for our society. People are so consumed by the concept of money that it is hard to completely let it go.

I came across Michael Tellinger’s movement “UBUNTU” when searching up other ideas on ‘what the world would be like without money’. I was very much inspired by his speech on YouTube as it complimented thoughts I’ve had over the past few months, a topic that Sam and I have discussed on many occasions. Tellinger expresses ideas such as what kind of social changes would also accompany the removal of the monetary system. These are things like education and jobs.

“Let each citizen contribute their natural talents or acquired skills to the greater benefit of all in the community.” – Michael Tellinger.

Consider this: The current purpose for education (primary up to tertiary) is to prepare individuals for jobs; the primary school curriculum is organized specifically for teaching our children the basics necessary for their future education; high school preparing them for their future jobs or further education. Without the monetary system, what use is a structured educational system? When Tellinger said, “Do not send your children to school”, I was surprised and quickly opposed. I continued watching and applied some thought to it. The removal of money reduces the pressure to get education, thus reducing the pressure to get a job. His ideas were to teach our children from home, teach them how to look after themselves, cook, clean, grow crops and give them real life experience; and they will be rich in experience and far more beneficial to our societies. If education was an optional thing, and not just something that people thought was necessary for survival or to succeed at life, then people would choose the topics that they are really interested in. We would be surrounded by people who love their occupation, because it’s not “work”. People will be much more willing to help, to work harder and to spread their knowledge because they will be filled with passion.

“The governments and corporations have laid claim to our countries, our lands, our water, our minerals, our plants and animals, the airwaves, the coastlines and oceans, and they continue to make new laws, almost every day, that grant them more and more control over everything imaginable. The only conclusion we can reach from the current situation is that the government and the large corporations have stolen the country (land) from its people. All done quietly through lies and deception, feeding on the ignorance and good nature of the people”. – Michael Tellinger.

Though this idea is so fantastic, it seems beyond our reach as we realise the control the monetary system has over us is strong. Tellinger has his own simple plan for how this change could occur; starting with just one small town. As instant removal of money could put a very high stress on society, Tellinger suggests starting with just one town whose members will each commit 3 hours of work a week for 6 months, to produce food, clothing and other necessities. These hours of work add up and can result in a lot of production. They will then take what they need for themselves to survive, and what is left will be sold at a market for other towns to come and take advantage of. Because the purpose of this is to slowly remove money, they will lower their prices greatly so that those in the surrounding towns will come to them to buy their goods. Once this happens, the other towns will have no choice other than to lower their own prices, as they will be losing all of their current customers. This will then create a chain reaction, and eventually could result in a large area following a cheaper monetary system which then could be more easily converted to a non-monetary system.

I also wanted to introduce you to The Venus Project, founded by Jacque Fresco (1916-2017). I only recently found out about this project while watching the second Zeitgeist documentary. If you haven’t seen these films, I really recommend it. It will change the way you see the world and expand your knowledge for the better. They are available to watch on YouTube. Fresco’s idea is focused on a resource-based system, rather than a monetary system. This includes using natural energy and a very sufficient transportation system that would reduce pollution greatly. His ideas and plans show a very realistic perspective for a possible future. I recommend checking out the website (linked below) if you are interested in the aims of this project. To get an idea on his focus I will leave this quote here:

“The Venus Project proposes an alternative vision of what the future can be if we apply what we already know in order to achieve a sustainable new world civilisation. It calls for a straightforward redesign of our culture in which the age-old inadequacies of war, poverty, hunger, debt and unnecessary human suffering are viewed not only as avoidable, but as totally unacceptable. Anything less will result in a continuation of the same catalogue of problems inherent in today’s world.”

The removal of the monetary system will cause a chain reaction, followed by the reduction of crime, inequalities and war. These social issues are not products of human nature, they are products of a society controlled by a monetary system, and thus the first step is to remove the main controller of our people.

Money is the basis of all our social issues, including crime, war, poverty and inequalities. Why do people commit crime? Think about crimes such as burglary, theft and assault, these are all consequences of the monetary system. Referring back to one of my previous post’s “Correction facilities: Are they really correcting?”, I discussed how crime usually stems from a poor societal structure rather than a problem with the individual.

I said,

“Although people do have a choice, they may not be in the right positions to make those choices in the first place.”

Those who are pushed into poverty or poor lifestyles due to inequalities (based on ethnicity and wealth) are left with no other choice than to do what they have to do, even if this means taking it from others. It is easy to point the finger and say that this shouldn’t be the case, but how about directing our fingers to the institutions who allow these problems to exist? Assaults generally occur from being caught committing a crime or even due to discrimination. Take money away from the equation and there is no need to steal or fight, as everyone is given equal opportunity and right to what they need.

Inequalities occur largely due to money – consider our class system. Two Kiwi billionaires combined wealth is more than that of the bottom 30% of adults in New Zealand, and the top 10% wealthiest hold half of the country’s wealth (Stuff, 2017). It is hard not to be angered by the concept that there are two people with too much money, and there are 30% of adults who are most likely struggling, often with children in their care, yet will have to work 50 hour weeks just to keep up (barely). Those who are in power and have great wealth would prefer to be ignorant to the problems surrounding them, and are also those who will be opposed to the removal of the monetary system. Why? Because without their money, they have no power.  

What need would there be for war if it wasn’t to gain profit? What need would there be for envy if everyone is treated as equals and given the same opportunities in life, in which they are fucking deserving?

How about the legalisation of marijuana? Why do you think it took so long for countries to begin legalising it again? Was it really because of its effect and danger to the human brain? Or was it because they needed to find a way to make profit from it? Like legalising it for medicinal purposes for example, is it just another way for the health industry to make money? I am aware of its benefits for many people, but it’s not something that should be sold, because once again it grows in our fucking soils. They make it appear as if it is for the purposes of helping our people, when really it should just be free to those who really need it. Along with all other treatments, like cancer treatment. Sure, it doesn’t grow in the ground, but if the function of healthcare is really for the sake of the people, why is the cost of surgery to remove cancer range from $12,000-$30,000 in New Zealand, and chemotherapy putting people in unbelievable debt all over the world. Because things cost money, right? But they shouldn’t.

If it is really for the people, why do they keep people alive when they know they are suffering? Why do you think euthanasia is illegal in countries such as ours, the US and the UK? Think of the money they make from keeping people alive, even if their condition is terminal. Yes, people want to extend the lives of their loved ones and are willing to do everything they can to let this happen, but they are literally taken advantage of by piling endless costs on top of those who will sacrifice it all. People don’t want to die, or to see their loved ones die, so this is truly the most ideal system to have in place that is for the benefit of the monetary system. I’m not saying that doctors, surgeons and nurses are all in it for the money, they care about the people and want to help the people. They are unknowingly part of a system that only thinks about profit. The health system works for the monetary system.

“Our health care system squanders money because it is designed to react to emergencies. Homeless shelters, hospital emergency rooms, jails, prisons – these are expensive and ineffective ways to intervene and there are people who clearly profit from this cycle of continued suffering.” – Pete Earley.

Our world and our people are being hugely mistreated, all for the benefit of a small population of people who have somehow found their way into power through the manipulation of people, and money. Although seemingly far out of our reach, there is a possible more positive future ahead of us. All I can hope is that we will be lucky enough to witness these changes and be able to contribute to a better world. The resources existed before money did, so there is absolutely no reason as to why the world cannot be sustained without a monetary system.

Prevention therapy for Paedophiles: Better than getting revenge?

The concept of paedophilia is a hard topic for most people, it is a subject that draws anger and confusion, that sparks aggression that can over-power a sense of humanity. People struggle to understand how someone can have such unnatural desires, and are quick to label people with these desires, as criminals. Although I understand the anger, as I feel it too, we are surrounded by many different people, and the more the world grows the more psychological illnesses we become aware of. It might be hard to comprehend paedophilia as a mental illness, but to consider it as one, I think, is the best way to develop an understanding that the feelings and desires are beyond the control of the individual.

This blog is not completely directed at the first article provided (located at the bottom of the page) but more about the discussion in the comments and people’s views on the sex dolls and paedophilia. For the purpose of this article, I’d like to consider paedophilia as a mental illness – as it is discussed as a “psychiatric disorder”. But, although this concept may offend or confuse some people, please do try to be open minded. There is no way that I support ANYONE who would bring harm to someone else, but as you all know I am studying to be a Psychologist. I have a dream of working with children and/or criminals, to find out how disorders occur, what makes someone commit a crime and how their childhoods can affect their future lives. To do this, you need to be open minded. You must consider all alternatives, no matter how strange they are. To be a good psychologist, you can’t walk into a room with a criminal and expect to help by saying, “Oh, that’s weird and disgusting”, you have to put yourself in their shoes and you need to treat them like any other person. I say this because, personally, I would not consider paedophilia as a “mental illness”, because if a man can be attracted to a woman and vice versa, a woman attracted to another woman, a man attracted to another man, a younger woman attracted to an older man, or a younger man attracted to an older woman – then, anything is possible. We no longer consider homosexuality as a mental disorder because it’s a sexual orientation. Just like a gay man did not decide to desire other men, a paedophile did not decide to desire children, and they have to live in a world that is completely against them. No matter how disgusting or dangerous paedophilia might be to us, to some it is a sexual preference.  Society is in charge of determining what is right and what is wrong, and for perfectly good reasons we have decided that acting on paedophilia is completely unacceptable. So, as I said, I will refer to it as a mental illness.

Sex dolls made to look like under aged girls – prevention or encouragement? Even I was on the fence about this. The more comments I read, the more leaned to the side where it might actually be encouraging the acts on real children, so I started to find myself sitting in the majority (for a change). The reason for this though, is because I came across a link posted by a woman about Germany’s Prevention Project called Dunkelfeld, which I will discuss later in the blog. As I said, I didn’t choose to write about this mainly because of the dolls, but because of the ideas that were passed around throughout the comments.

Not saying that being angry about paedophiles and wanting to get revenge makes you close minded – but, a lot of these people appeared to be completely ignorant, and yeah, close minded. Some people find it hard to fathom that you cannot convict a paedophile if they haven’t actually done anything wrong, even when you believe that their thoughts alone are wrong. In one of my comments I tried to explain that paedophilia can be seen as a mental illness, just like other mental illnesses, it is a psychological problem that people are unable to have complete control of BUT paedophiles do have the choice of offending or not. People questioned that if these dolls would help prevent children from being offended, would others be happy to accept them. The angry responses to these valid questions are a great reflection of a problem we have in our society. People spend too much time being angry about things they can’t stop, but are happy to ignore anything that might actually prevent it.

Furthermore, these responses were very much continued when I came across the linked article about the Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (PPD). The article is about an open paedophilic man named Max Weber (I’m not sure if this is a fake name or someone named their kid after the famous sociologist but whatever), who had not offended but had been close, and his experience with the PPD. Basically, he was surprised when he attended the therapy sessions that he witnessed such a mix of people, a church warden, a banker, a doctor and people from all walks of life. Some who had no children, some who were parents and some who had family with children, single, in a relationship, or married, but had not offended. This project’s main focus is to help prevent people from offending, by allowing them to discuss their thoughts, and teaching them ways to avoid things that may lead them to commit. One of the main points of prevention was discouraging the watching of porn and so on. This is where I “got off the fence” and decided that maybe the use of sex dolls would be a bad idea. Some people made a point that maybe the person would be able to get it out of their system by using the sex doll instead, but others said it would just encourage them. This project though, is saying that things such as that need to be avoided in order to prevent the real thing occurring.

What do I think of this project? I think it is a positive thing. I like to be optimistic and realistic about these things. As I said, it’s obvious we can’t just go around and put people in jail because the laws don’t agree with their desires, so if the best we can do is offer them a safe place to go and get help then why the hell not? I received many replies on my comments that said there was no way that therapy was going to help, that these people were absolutely sick and that therapy would only encourage their behaviour, because it makes them “think they have rights”. That right there is an example of the fucking ignorance of the people we are surrounded by. I referred to Norway’s prison system in one of my comments, that sometimes rehabilitation is more effective than punishment. Treating people like they are disgusting animals is only going to push them further away from society and closer to committing the crimes we don’t want them to commit. It shocks me that people would rather side with the option that is impossible rather than the side that might help prevent it from happening. A regular replier stated that the only thing that really stops these people from offending are knowing the consequences of their actions; losing their job, family, reputation and their future.

I said,

“You are right, I think the consequences in place are what stop them from offending, but those laws aren’t going to change even when therapy is offered. It will still be a crime, they will still have the same consequences, but maybe therapy will help them get their life on track and help them deal with their thoughts. The consequences will always be in place, and as long as they are then therapy is just another step to try to decrease the offending rates.”

The world will never be what we want it to be, there will always be criminals and crime, the law does not allow us to kill people we dislike, or to punish people for their beliefs or their desires. We have to accept that we may not always get the revenge we desire, and that the biggest step we can take to creating a safer place is to allow the people who need help the most, to get the help that they need. Every individual has the right to be helped, and in the long run I’m sure we’d all prefer to have accepted prevention therapy than to let dangerous people roam our streets when they could have been helped. The more hate we spread, the less people who will seek help, and the chance of offending rises.

“Sometimes teaching people how to be a good citizen and not treating them like complete dirt actually has a positive effect, even if we don’t believe the person deserves any rights. It shouldn’t be about revenge, it should be about preventing it in the first place.”


Article about young-looking sex dolls being seized by NZ customs: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11887417

Article linked by a commenter about Germany Dunkelfeld project for paedophiles: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/16/how-germany-treats-paedophiles-before-they-offend



Correction facilities: Are they really correcting?

A YouTube video worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxdgPnYyj64
Does Prison Work? – Thoughty2

I’ll be honest and say I hadn’t thought too in depth about prison systems and what not, but when Sam and I watched this video in our morning stay-in-bed-til-noon ritual it really captured my attention and made me curious. I don’t know much about the New Zealand prison system but I was doing some reading up to kind of get an idea on our crime rates and so forth. I could learn a thing or two from my law-studying friends, but I thought this video would be a cool topic for this weeks’ “Wisdom Wednesday”.

I actually said to Sam, “Why is it called a correction facility?” Like I said, I don’t know a lot about prison but my take on it is that there doesn’t appear to be a lot of correcting happening, well especially in NZ and America. How does putting people who already have social and mental disorders in a boring plain room in a place with other people with the same or similar problems “correct” them? This is where the video fascinated me as it introduces us to the Norwegian prison system. Many people say, and fairly, that they are too soft on their criminals and that these people should be correctly punished for the crimes they have committed.

If you don’t have time to watch this video or want a brief explanation, basically what Arran (Thoughty2) tells us is that Norway’s main focus in their correction facilities is to reduce the rate of reoffending by rehabilitating their prisoners and basically re-socialising them. Arran talks about two prisons in Norway: Halden and Bastoy.

Halden Prison provides resort-like accommodation, allow the prisoners to wear what they want, they have access to proper food, kitchen, are able to shop for ingredients and cook for themselves and can basically roam free within this facility. There is a gym, sports hall, library and even a music studio which is available for the prisoners to use. They are even able to get paid jobs to help out in the prison. Norwegian perspective on this is that you need to treat these criminals like humans, because a person’s human needs don’t just disappear when they are incarcerated. Bastoy Prison is apparently even more luxurious than Halden, located on an island where prisoners are able to roam free and apparently have good relationships with the guards, sometimes even being invited in for a coffee.

Not surprisingly though, no one has ever actually tried to escape! There isn’t much point when they are provided with a safe home, food and technology – living a better life than a lot of us. Norway focuses on teaching these individuals on how to survive out in the real world, cooking for themselves, working and actually helping them to get jobs once they leave prison. In our society, a conviction is pretty much a big red cross on your CV and what chance do you really have at getting a job after that?

This system is seemingly effective with a 20% reoffending once prisoners are released, which is pretty amazing in comparison to America’s huge 76.6% who are arrested within 5 years of being released. The only information I could find on NZ recidivists rates were from 2003 which was 66% of prisoners (meaning that 66% of prisoners reoffended within 4 years of release).

If you consider the fact that our societal structure is partially to blame for the crimes that occur, this type of rehabilitation is effective because it teaches prisoners how to look after themselves. A lot of crimes (like theft and burglary) are committed because these people can’t afford to buy luxuries for themselves. Some people are willing to do whatever they have to do to survive, on their terms. Although this may represent a problem within an individual, it represents a bigger problem in society itself. If you teach these prisoners how to live on their own once they leave, provide them with education and a job, what need will they have to recommit crimes if they already have everything they need? Maybe this is why their reoffending rate is so low. Arran mentioned that Norway also has free healthcare and dental care, which will still be available to the prisoners once they are released. Even this fact may contribute to lower crime rates in their country all together, because they look after their people and it doesn’t cost an arm and leg to check in with a doctor or get a filling.

Of course, some criminals are just well: criminals. But clearly there is something that can be done to reduce crimes, especially in those who just need to find their place in the world. I think it’s quite clear what needs to be done. It’s more a matter of putting these systems in place and actually doing something about it. Many societies wouldn’t be comfortable in blaming themselves for the problems that occur. Norway places a trust in their people, giving them a second chance that a lot of people in New Zealand and else where would never receive.

It’s hard to even imagine how it might feel knowing that someone who killed someone you loved, could go to a place and live in potentially better conditions than you and get treated far better than they deserve. It’s hard to accept this circumstance in our society because we all want revenge, and we want people to suffer for the crimes they commit. The Norwegian community don’t appear to have this same anger towards their criminals, and they appreciate that their system is doing the best it can to reduce these numbers. Their prison populations are decreasing every year, whilst elsewhere are still rising.

As of the 31st December 2016, there were 9,914 prisoners within New Zealand prisons, which as of right now is 0.2% of our population. 50.8% of those prisoners are of Maori descent, and 32.1% are European. We can’t say that the reason for half of the prison population being Maori (when they only make up 15.4% of our countries population) is their own fault. If you take a look at the bigger picture, it’s saying something about our society, and although these days it may be unintentional, certain people get pushed to the side, even if we don’t realise we are doing it. Europeans are known for taking over countries and I think even after many years, it’s hard to feel equal when someone has come into your own country and taken control of things. Maybe there is a pressure on certain people to commit crimes because they aren’t receiving the right education or being taught the right morals, and that can be an endless cycle. It’s easier to blame individuals because “they have a choice” rather than blame societal structure. Although people do have a choice, they may not be in the right positions to make those choices in the first place. It’s every man for himself out in this world and some will do what they think they need to do, unless we provide them with the help they require.

I think the world could learn from Norway’s system. I don’t mean providing a luxurious facility with access to things that some everyday people don’t even have, but taking a step in the right direction by actually rehabilitating our criminals and teaching them how to look after themselves. Treating these individuals like humans rather than reckless animals, because majority have already been mistreated in society, which is exactly why they’re in prison in the first place. Norway has a very positive outlook on their people and their prisoners, and you cannot deny that although their system is seemingly “soft”, it’s fucking effective.