Come election time there is always at least one party, sometimes more, that insists the way to prevent crime and keep everybody safe is to lock up anyone who looks a bit dodgy and throw away the key. This election is no exception.
There are many problems with this mentality, vote grabber though it may be. Yes, there is crime in New Zealand, and even one crime a year is one crime to many. But crime rates are not, on the whole, going up. Locking up people for minor offences costs the country a fortune and turns them into hardened criminals who will commit more crimes on release.
Getting tough on crime will never get rid of crime. It will always be shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. No one can be locked up until they have actually committed a crime. By that time it’s too late.
Getting rid of crime means going back to basics. It has been proven that inequality causes crime rates to go up. To get rid of crime, inequality needs to be reduced. That means making sure that everyone has a liveable income, a place to live, free access to healthcare and education.
But it is not enough to improve the lot of those at the bottom. Inequality refers to the gap between top and bottom earners. To reduce inequality the wings of those at the top need to be clipped as well.
While it is true that some people have far too little, it is also true that there is a small band who have far too much. New Zealand, and the world, cannot afford them. Excessive wealth needs to be redistributed by progressive taxation and also by salary caps such as a 1:12 ration which would see no CEO earning more than 12 times the salary of the lowest paid worker in their company. Government departments could lead by example on this.
In addition, more resources for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction and education on the harmful effects of both are needed to help reduce crimes fuelled by the need for money to acquire drugs or committed while under the influence of alcohol.
Lastly for those who do commit crimes, restorative justice, an Alliance driven initiative, has been proven to be effective in preventing reoffending in many cases. Restorative justice needs to be widely offered and victims of crimes must be adequately compensated to enable them to move on with their lives.
The Alliance says forget about “three strikes and you’re out”. How about one strike and you’re in; in to treatment for addiction, mental health issues, or whatever else is causing your offending.