A great idea for breaking the gangs – but finding the right location is the key

On the positive side, there's no Mongrel Mob or Black Power here...

... but (on the negative side) it's too easy to find a shag.

Alf had been inclined to think somewhat unkindly about Kim Workman, director of an outfit called Rethinking Crime and Punishment.

Too often Workman seemed too be promoting namby-pamby ideas about dealing with the criminal classes.

But maybe Alf misjudged him, because Workman has released a media statement headed –

Proposal To Relocate Gang Members Away From Communities

Great. Alf has a similar proposal.

Maybe we could work together.

Mind you, when you read Workman’s statement you will find he is focused on relocating gang members away from gangs, when they are let out of jail (which happens much too soon for most of the buggers).


Alf is all for isolating them from our communities.

In his statement, Workman says he

…supports Corrections CEO Ray Smith in a proposal to relocate gang members and other criminals away from gangs, once released.

Alf’s idea – as he will explain further down in this post – will accomplish this very thing, but (he contends) much more effectively.

But let’s hear more from Workman.

“I think he’s on to something, and it’s great to see Corrections Minister Anne Tolley in backing the idea. A change of community and peers is often what it takes to bring about change. It is often about the opportunity to “knife off” from old situations and establish new routines and activities.

Mention of knives is a bit unfortunate, but besides that Alf and Kim are on the same team.

Come to think of it, Alf and Kim would be a great title for a TV series.

Oh, and Workman highlights the fact his idea is supported by research.

Following Hurricane Katrina, prisoners were forced to relocate to new communities. Research showed that those parolees who moved to a new community following release were substantially less likely to be reimprisoned during the first 3 years after release than those ex-offenders who moved back to the community where they were originally convicted.

And hence Workman urges us to be prepared to try these ideas, and support them.

He was commenting – by the way – on something reported yesterday about penal matters involving our splendid Minister of Corrections, Anne Tolley.

She was talking about the Government considering paying for released inmates to relocate so they can leave gangs without fear for their safety.

It seems the number of gangsters in our jails has surged in recent years, attesting either to the success of the cops in rounding up the buggers or to the consequences of their breeding habits.

Mind you, Labour’s Phil Goff (a former corrections minister) has another thought and reckons answers provided to him by officials show the increase in gang membership is caused by recruitment in prison.

“So some people are coming out of prison worse than when they went in.

Maybe.

But whatever the cause of the surge, Stuff’s report on the Government’s proposals said –

The number of inmates with gang affiliations has doubled in the past five years and the Corrections Department is developing a programme to help offenders break their ties.

There is a high correlation between gang membership and reoffending rates.

Gang members are twice as likely as other prisoners to reoffend within 12 months of leaving prison, at a rate of 41 per cent compared with 22 per cent.

But hey.

These gangsters might look tough and they might sound tough.

Nah. It turns out they are wimps, really.

Corrections chief executive Ray Smith said inmates he had spoken to were “overwhelmingly” scared to leave gangs.

“The challenge for us is to develop a programme which helps people leave their gang affiliations in a safe way,” he told Parliament’s law and order select committee yesterday.

“A lot are very, very scared to take that step.”

It seems some inmates have told Smith it would be easier to leave gangs if they were moved to areas away from their associates when they left prison.

And he said –

“I do think the relocations option seems to be practical if we can get support from community-based organisations.”

So what’s doing with this idea?

Anne said it was early days but the programme is an opportunity for Corrections to try different methods to reduce reoffending.

“Sometimes you can justify a bit of expenditure up front in order to save the Government and the community later.”

Goff agrees that funding released prisoners to relocate is a good idea.

But he points out we are a small country.

“If you have your family in Auckland and you’re released from prison, you are going to go back to where your family is.”

Not if Alf’s idea is adopted.

He agrees hugely with the proposition expressed in Workman’s headline “…To Relocate Gang Members Away From Communities”.

He has sent a note to Tolley pointing out the huge social benefits of transporting the buggers to new locations on the Auckland Islands when they are released from prison.

We will have to be careful to ensure each of them is put in an isolated spot, so they don’t get together and form a new branch of their gang.

But on balance, this idea has lots of merit.

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