‘New Zealand has one of the highest levels of imprisonment in the Western world. Yet the growth of imprisonment in New Zealand has occurred when the crime rate here, as in most other Western societies, has been in significant decline. Why, then, the disjuncture?’
In this penetrating BWB Text, John Pratt describes the dramatic transformation in penal thought that has recently taken place in this country. Rising imprisonment in New Zealand, against the background of a falling crime rate, is connected with changes in how we, as a society, think about the purpose and function of punishment. This growth of ‘penal populism’, Pratt asserts, has caused enormous and lasting damage to New Zealand’s social fabric.
What are BWB Texts?
BWB Texts offer a new form of reading for New Zealanders. Commissioned as short digital-first works, BWB Texts unlock diverse stories, insights and analysis from the best of our past, present and future New Zealand writing.
'John Pratt’s fearless analysis of the factors that led to New Zealand’s high imprisonment rate in the face of a declining crime rate, cements his growing reputation as a criminologist of international standing. The mirror he holds up to the citizens of Aotearoa, forces us to confront a darker and mean-spirited side to our collective character. It is not a pretty picture.'
Kim Workman, Spokesperson, Rethinking Crime and Punishment
Listen to John Pratt discuss A Punitive Society with Radio One in Dunedin.