What is behind New Zealand’s rising female inmate population?

Long Lunch 06/04/2018
Photo: Getty.

Numerous reports show that the number of women entering the country’s corrections and justice system has been rising for some time.

New Zealand’s rising female inmate problem was recently highlighted with Arohata's overflowing prison, which will opt to double bunk its female inmates in small single cells.

Fashion designer Annah Stretton joined Wendyl Nissen to explain the patterns she has noticed since working with female ex-inmates.

Ms Stretton, who began RAW (Reclaim Another Woman) charity, works with recidivist female offenders to help break the cycle of crime.

She told Wendyl Nissen that methamphetamine is often a factor for women entering the justice system.

“It lends itself very easily to the resource and tenacity of females,” she said. “A lot of women that we work for will have methamphetamine in their history.”

The charity founder explained that recidivism, or the tendancy to reoffend, can be linked to many women simply feeling safer in a prison environment.

“In a lot of cases it’s definitely safer,” she said. “They’re guaranteed a roof over their head, they are fed, they are not constantly looking over their shoulders.”

And with a whopping 52 percent of female inmates diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Ms Stretton’s theory could hold true for ex-convicts returning to an unsafe environment.

One of the inmates she worked with even described prison as “just so damn easy”.

Ms Stretton later remarked on Dr Ian Lambie’s report detailing on how to effectively deal with New Zealand’s prison problem, which released by the Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor.

Dr Lambie previously told Wendly Nissen that it would be more cost-effective to create programmes for children who are most at-risk for a future behind bars.

But the fashion designer disagrees, arguing that intervention should start with New Zealand mums.

Listen to the full interview with Annah Stretton above. 

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.

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