What David Garrett really thinks

datePosted on 11:30, March 16th, 2009 by Lew

ass_in_jailI’m guessing most of the country has moved on from this issue, but last week I suggested that vto post his email reply from Garrett on the `creature comforts’ issue. He didn’t want to, which is fair enough, but I was interested in my own personalised bit of invective, so I emailed him myself.

I didn’t get invective, I got an explanation of what (and how) he really thinks on this matter, which is most excellent. For all that I disagree with his policies and his ideas, David appears to be entirely lacking in guile, which can only be a good thing inasmuch as it enables the electorate to take him at face value. (Ok, not entirely without guile – he was complaining on Focus On Politics (audio) on Friday that the media take his jocular utterances too seriously.)

The email thread is reproduced verbatim below the fold. I had delayed posting this over the weekend in order to give David time to reply to my last message, but as of this morning he hasn’t done so.

L

From: Lewis Stoddart
Sent: Thursday, 12 March 2009 09:09:47
To: David Garrett

Dear David,

I note with some concern your remarks regarding the possible
consequences of double-bunking in NZ prisons, particularly in your press release “Forget Inmates’ Creature Comforts”
(http://scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0903/S00131.htm). In that release, you make several particularly disturbing statements.

First, you argue that freedom from homosexual rape by another prisoner is a `creature comfort’, not a human right which should be guaranteed by the state. Does this somewhat sanguine attitude to sexual violence not conflict with your arguments about the rights of victims, or can someone imprisoned (for any reason) not be a victim by virtue of their imprisonment? What of those who are wrongly imprisoned, held on remand, or imprisoned for non-violent offences?

Second, you rightly state that “rape is a crime wherever it occurs, and can be dealt with in the same way as any other offence committed in prison.” Indeed, it can be. However offences committed in prison already go under-reported and under-prosecuted unless they offend against the integrity of the prison system, rather than against other prisoners. In addition, since only a small proportion of rapes in wider society are reported, and only a small proportion of those reported are actually prosecuted, do you not agree that a heightened incidence of rape in prison will go largely unreported and unprosecuted? If you disagree, I’d be interested to hear your reasoning.

Third, and most concerning, you say “The fact is: if you don’t want to be assaulted – or worse – by a cellmate, avoid prison by not committing a crime”. This implies that anyone who ends up in a prison cell with a rapist gets what they deserve; that any assault – or worse – that they might suffer is nothing more than an unfortunate collateral effect of their imprisonment, which perhaps should be expected. Do you think rape should be an expected consequence of imprisonment in New Zealand? If not I invite you, again, to explain this remark.

ACT has billed itself as “The Liberal Party”, defending freedom and individual rights. It seems to me that such a party has a right to stand for the certainty of justice – that those convicted of a crime can expect to be duly punished for that crime, and serve out the full sentence imposed upon them by the law; no more and no less. Your unconcerned attitude toward the likelihood of more frequent prison rape implies that you accept that rape is a part of the punishment of imprisonment, that offenders by committing a crime can “buy jail, get raped free”. Once more, I am interested in how you can justify this position within the classical liberal framework of ACT.

Thank you for your consideration of this message, and I look forward to your reply.

Cheers,
L

Lewis Stoddart
lewis@xxxxx.xxx
021xxxxxxx

To which I received the reply:

RE: ACT prison double-bunking policy

Date: Thursday, 12 March 2009 10:47:05
From: David Garrett
To: Lewis Stoddart

Hello Lewis,

I really have nothing much to add to what is in the release, other than to say I did not intend to imply that freedom from homosexual rape was a “creature comfort”. But I will make two further points. For many years double bunking was a common and entirely uncontroversial practice. Perhaps it is a symptom of how soft we have got on the treatment of criminals (voluntary work, plasma tvs, uinderfloor heating) that is now an issue in many people’s minds.

Prison was never supposed to be comfortable. If you look at crime figures against ever more liberal penal policy, did you ever think there just MIGHT be a connection? Many middle class people simply cannot comprehend that many criminals actually don’t mind jail at all – they can’t comprehend it, because of us middle class middel aged guys the deprivation of liberty in itself is a huge punishment. If you talk to anyone who works in prisons you will quickly be made aware that for many criminals this is just not so; three sqaure meals a day cooked an paid for by someone else, the ability to work out in the gym and then retire to a centrally heated cell is for them a very fair price for loss of liberty for a year or two.

I DON”T suggest that homosexual (or heterosexual for that matter) rape should be considered as “just part of the punishment”. I DO believe that we need to get away from the silly philosophy that has underpinned penal policy for 40 years “You go to prison as punishment no for punishment”, but the “extras” I have in mind involve compulsory work and solitary
confinent or diet restrictions as punishment for misbehaviour I prison, not rape.

It may interest you to know that all of our caucus agree with my sentiment that it is easy to avoid any of the unpleasant consequences of prison by the simple expedient of not committing crime – particularly violent crime; not many go to prison these days for other than serios violent offences.

ACT’s philosophy has been and remains that people have choices, and they must accept the consequences of those choice. Crime is no different. Classical liberal philosophy – boiled down to its most basic – is that everyone has the right to make free choices about what they do, with two caveats: they must not infringe the rights of others – which criminals have by definition done – and they must accept the consequences of those choices.

I doubt I have altered you view – perhaps I have hardened it! But I thank you for taking to time to write an obviously well considered e-mail. I hope you feel you have received a considered reply.

Sincerely,

David Garrett MP
Justice Spokesman
ACT New Zealand
T: 04 8176631
F: 04 4733532
E: david.garrett@parliament.govt.nz
www.act.org.nz

To which I replied:

Date: Thursday, 12 March 2009 18:35:43
From: Lewis Stoddart
To: David Garrett

Thank you for your reply, David. Unfortunately it doesn’t really clear up the questions, because your position is contradictory. The two statements which are most evidently inconsistent are these:

“I DON”T suggest that homosexual (or heterosexual for that matter) rape should be considered as “just part of the punishment”.”

and

“everyone has the right to make free choices about what they do, with two caveats: they must not infringe the rights of others – which criminals have by definition done – and they must accept the consequences of those choices”

Given that double-bunking (whether it was once uncontroversial is irrelevant; so was the lash) will likely increase the incidence of rape, the statements contradict because that policy will simply become one of the consequences of those `choices’ which led to prison in the first place.

Since double-bunking is not intended as a corrective measure, but as a cost-saving measure, the question is: how many corrections dollars must be saved for ACT to consider another rape to be a tolerable (if unfortunate) collateral effect? I understand this is a distasteful utility calculation to have to face. But it must be faced when the state weighs up monetary cost against human safety, even that of prisoners, who are after all still human.

Cheers,
L

categoryPosted in Crime, Parliament | printPrint

26 Responses to “What David Garrett really thinks”

  1. BLiP on March 16th, 2009 at 15:27

    Alf Garnett said:

    It may interest you to know that all of our caucus agree with my sentiment that it is easy to avoid any of the unpleasant consequences of prison by the simple expedient of not committing crime . . SNIP . . .

    Still doesn’t answer your question about the innocents who end up in jail. Under Act’s proposals there is a doubling of such injustice – first the errors that culminated in the conviction and then the extra-judicial punishment they want heaped upon prisoners.

  2. James on March 16th, 2009 at 16:58

    Double bunking occurs all over the world,…..kids get bought up doing it with their siblings and seem to cope.If prisoners can’t adapt then tough…..shouldn’t have done the crime…

    Any raping being done is by criminals…not David or ACT…the responsibility lies with them and the prison authorities.

  3. The PC Avenger on March 16th, 2009 at 18:40

    Thank you James for summing up David Garrets thoughts in such a succinct and eloquent fashion.

    Double bunking occurs all over the world,…..kids get bought up doing it with their siblings and seem to cope.If prisoners can’t adapt then tough…..shouldn’t have done the crime…

    Are you saying that siblings living together is equivalent to two criminals doing the same? What a violent home you must have grown up in.

    Any raping being done is by criminals…not David or ACT…the responsibility lies with them and the prison authorities.

    Are you seriously suggesting that Ministerial Responsibility does not and should not exist? That even though they are aware of the consequences of enacting double bunking, they are in no way responsible for the negative side effects? Stunning. I wish I could make decisions in my job and not be held accountable and responsible for them.

  4. Quoth the Raven on March 16th, 2009 at 19:25

    As Labour increased sentences to ridiculously high levels in this country and we saw only a very small drop in crime, mostly property crime which would probably be expalined by higher employment and wages, with slight rise in violent crime I’d say we’re probably well past the level of diminishing returns on harsher sentences in this country. Longer tougher sentences will have little effect on crime just as they have had little effect on crime in the US. The US is increasingly questioning its hardline approach to crime that it’s held since the seventies. See this article: US prison system a costly, harmful failure or this: The policy that keeps on failing
    The most effective wasy to reduce crime as attested by study after study is through better education, employment, wages and so on. All things which will get worse now due to the recession and National’s incompetence.
    Act if it were actually a liberal party and not a bunch of conservatives would focus more on reducing crime by reducing crimes.

    Liberty is the mother not the daughter of order.

  5. Pascal's bookie on March 16th, 2009 at 21:24

    Italico deletus?

    james, and I had thought you you were a principled sort. Oh, hang on. No I didn’t, that’s just what you kept telling us.

    Anyway, if the state puts a person by force, into a situation where they know they may be assaulted or raped, and politicians don’t take all practical steps to lesson or remove that risk, (or as in this case, take actions that increase that risk), how are they not responsible?

    In short, in no way are they not responsible. The criminal does not in fact choose to go to prison when they commit a crime, but it is a risk they face. It is the state that imprisons, they have a large and expensive apparatus for doing so. The state is at the very least partially responsible for what happens there. When politicians take actions that adjust the risk levels, they are responsible for the changed outcomes. It’s not a difficult call.

    These things are the state’s choices, to imprison, who to imprison, and how to imprison. If you don’t care what happens to prisoners and aren’t concerned if they get raped, or like the idea, or whatever it is that is happening in your head, that’s one thing. But at least have the decency to own what it is you are advocating for.

  6. James on March 17th, 2009 at 00:53

    Sigh….its like talking to week old concrete with you noddies…

  7. Tidge on March 17th, 2009 at 11:36

    It’s extremely interesting that Garrett and his ilk don’t bother to unpack the idea that some people see jail as preferable to being out. What kind of horrible life must you have to feel that way? A life where you are constantly cold, hungry, and have no access to information media, I assume. Surely the problem with that particular issue starts there? What is wrong with our society that there are people who feel that way? How can we change that? But of course that would require some deep thought rather than knee-jerk retribution- and revenge-based ideologies.

    Regarding prisoner rape, it astounds me that people are unable to see the blatant hypocrisy and counter-productivity involved with saying some crime is OK and other crime is not, let alone the ignorance involved with thinking that treating people like animals in jail is likely to result in them re/discovering some form of investment in and loyalty to society.

  8. James on March 17th, 2009 at 13:29

    Regarding prisoner rape, it astounds me that people are unable to see the blatant hypocrisy and counter-productivity involved with saying some crime is OK and other crime is not, let alone the ignorance involved with thinking that treating people like animals in jail is likely to result in them re/discovering some form of investment in and loyalty to society.

    ‘Who has said that? Please provide the quote.

  9. James on March 17th, 2009 at 13:44

    It’s extremely interesting that Garrett and his ilk don’t bother to unpack the idea that some people see jail as preferable to being out. What kind of horrible life must you have to feel that way? A life where you are constantly cold, hungry, and have no access to information media, I assume. Surely the problem with that particular issue starts there? What is wrong with our society that there are people who feel that way? How can we change that? But of course that would require some deep thought rather than knee-jerk retribution- and revenge-based ideologies.

    ACT’s welfare policies are designed for that very purpose….to get people off of dependance (which breeds unloved ,unwanted meal tickets)and get them standing on their own two feet.

    Indeed the main opposition to getting people out of the fug of eternal welfarism and the destructive enviroment it breeds has been the left who need these people right where they are to keep them viable.The greedy right by contrast actually has no use for poor desperate people so thats why they want to make them richer and better off…..they can then buy products made by the rich and everyones happy.

    So there are the incentives laid out….the Left need the poor and so work to keep them there under the guise of “compassion” and “social responsibility”……. the right want to enrich the poor and have them become healthy,happy self supporting individuals as that benefits the rich…and these former poor.

    Ouch…that stings eh comrades?

  10. Anita on March 17th, 2009 at 14:02

    James,

    The right needs the poor, otherwise there’s no way to keep wages down and return to shareholders up.

  11. BeShakey on March 17th, 2009 at 14:56

    ACT’s welfare policies are designed for that very purpose….to get people off of dependance (which breeds unloved ,unwanted meal tickets)and get them standing on their own two feet.

    If thats the case why have the policies they supported failed to achieve that when implemented in NZ and elsewhere. Given their universal failure the only reasonable conclusion is either that ACT members are too stupid to notice, or are smart enough to notice but don’t care because it isn’t the real intent of the policies (or more likely is simply a necessary byproduct of the achievement of the real objectives of their policies).

    In terms of your rant that the left want people poor. Why then is the last Labour government held in relatively high regard by the left, despite them slashing unemployment, and increasing the wellbeing of the poor across a range of measures. In reality the most common criticism of Labour from the left isn’t that they improved the lot of those less well of in society, its that they should have done far more.

  12. Lew on March 17th, 2009 at 18:04

    James, your hackneyed apologist doggerel isn’t worth responding to – it’s even worse than Garrett’s, and his is bad enough. Read this comment and take note.

    Anyone who equates sibling room-sharing with prison double-bunking, and (presumably, let me know if you don’t) decries the parents who fail to properly mitigate against rape of one sibling by another but considers the state officials who order the same for prisoners entirely absolved of blame has no rational concept of consistency. By saying so they declare that they will say or believe anything they need to say or believe to justify their ideological position. Such a person cannot be argued with on rational bases, and people who are incapable of reasoned argument are not welcome here.

    Anyone who refers to a child as a `meal ticket’ with a straight face simply isn’t capable of meaningful discussion on matters to do with families, society, or the state’s role in either.

    Anyone who refers to prison rape as `butt-stuffing’ and appeals to that homophobic element as a major deterrent on the matter of prison shows an intolerable lack of respect for the experience of anyone who has been raped and anyone who is homosexual. We will not permit this behaviour here.

    Anyone who refers to those who disagree with their ludicrous propositions as `comrade’ with the inference that they’re a communist isn’t welcome here. You were warned before to mend your ways in respect of these comments: consider this your very final warning.

    Your previous statements along these lines have, I think, been tolerated because, when you actually try to think about the matters you comment on you represent a genuine and legitimate philosophical and ideological position, and you’re one of few who do so here. As before, you are not being warned because of your ideas, only your conduct in expressing them. If you cannot decouple your ideas from their poisonous propaganda vehicle, you are not welcome here.

    Take these examples of your conduct above as lines in the sand. There are other lines drawn at similar distances from the edges of reasonable discourse. Cross any of them in future and you will find yourself permanently barred from this venue, declared unfit for participation by your own actions and choices.

    L

  13. Tidge on March 17th, 2009 at 19:15

    James,

    Please see paragraphs two and four of Lewis’s original email, in which I believe he correctly parses Garrett’s statements, re: your request for quotes.

    As for your statement that the right having no need for poor people, give me a break. Neoliberalism loves to tout the egalitarian potential for anyone to be rich (which is somewhat admirable if wilfully ignorant of pre-existing power structures, at the very least) but rarely acknowledges the simple fact that it is an impossibility for everyone to be rich, by dint of the very nature of the rich/poor dichotomy.

  14. James on March 17th, 2009 at 21:20

    This is my last post here so I would ask it be allowed to stand as my final statement.It is getting so precious here that I wouldn’t be here much longer anyway…I can’t stand BS.

    Lew…..you are acting like a spoiled baby….aside from the misapplied implications you are making of what I actually said to what you think I have said.

    Anyone who refers to a child as a `meal ticket’ with a straight face simply isn’t capable of meaningful discussion on matters to do with families, society, or the state’s role in either.

    Anyone who makes a statement like yours needs to get out of the ivory tower hes in and come to South Auckland…you are so out of touch its not funny.Go over to Lindsay Mitchells blog and try telling her that….she will drop you like a bad habit with the facts and examples she has collated.

    Anyone who equates sibling room-sharing with prison double-bunking, and (presumably, let me know if you don’t) decries the parents who fail to properly mitigate against rape of one sibling by another but considers the state officials who order the same for prisoners entirely absolved of blame has no rational concept of consistency. By saying so they declare that they will say or believe anything they need to say or believe to justify their ideological position. Such a person cannot be argued with on rational bases, and people who are incapable of reasoned argument are not welcome here.

    So you are retiring then Lew? The point I was making but appears to have gone over some very pointy heads is that its common practice for human beings to share a room…has been for eons….if prisoners have issues with this simple arrangment that most children seem to cope with then too bad…..should’nt have done the crime.Rape is outside of what Im saying so no distortions of what I did say please..its boring.

    Anyone who refers to prison rape as `butt-stuffing’ and appeals to that homophobic element as a major deterrent on the matter of prison shows an intolerable lack of respect for the experience of anyone who has been raped and anyone who is homosexual. We will not permit this behaviour here.

    Where did I “appeal”Lew? I stated…correctly…the FACT that rape IS a deterrent to men where entering prisons concerned…try talking to some sometime and ask them.

    And just what ACT welfare policies have been tried and failed in NZ?….tell me…Id love to know.The closest place to see similar ones would be Wisconson in the US…where even the left have admitted the changes there have done great things.

    Its a simple economic fact that poor people are no use to rich business types…they have no money so can’t buy stuff.The old chestnut that a vast pool of poor unemployed is valued to keep wages down is nonsense and a leftist fable.We are in a recession…that means people aren’t spending their money as business need them to to stay afloat…get it? People with no money equals no use to greedy business man.

    There are in fact more jobs to do in a the market than there are people to fill them…..employers cry out for good employees and do reward them as best they can.

    Well by all….its been fun if not frustrating wading through nonsense.

    J

    ps ;-P

  15. Ari on March 19th, 2009 at 11:42

    Where did I “appeal”Lew? I stated…correctly…the FACT that rape IS a deterrent to men where entering prisons concerned…try talking to some sometime and ask them.

    That’s like saying torture is a deterrent to being a soldier: perhaps it is, but I wouldn’t want people who think that’s okay drafting the rules of engagement.

    Likewise, we shouldn’t let anyone who thinks that prison rape is acceptable or even worth turning a blind eye to near the reigns of our prison system.

  16. Deepred on March 19th, 2009 at 13:38

    Anyone who refers to prison rape as `butt-stuffing’ and appeals to that homophobic element as a major deterrent on the matter of prison shows an intolerable lack of respect for the experience of anyone who has been raped and anyone who is homosexual. We will not permit this behaviour here.

    Remember this?
    Granny Herald – New MPs under fire for gay remarks

    And where’s Garrett when you need him?
    Granny Herald – Former ACT candidate, teacher, guilty of child porn

  17. DeepRed on March 22nd, 2009 at 02:06

    If these turn out to be true, then where are the Sensibles now? Fighting crime with crime if I ever heard of it.

    Granny Herald – Security boost for judges

    Granny Herald – Jury frightened into verdict, says lawyer

  18. Nil EInne on April 2nd, 2009 at 01:16

    James

    Any raping being done is by criminals…not David or ACT…the responsibility lies with them and the prison authorities.

    You’re right the rapists bear the ultimate responsibility for the rapes. This doesn’t mean it’s excusable to allow people to be raped by negligence. The funny thing is ACT and David Garrett must agree with this, aren’t they some of the ones who gets very worked up when a person on bail or parole commits a crime?

    So you are retiring then Lew? The point I was making but appears to have gone over some very pointy heads is that its common practice for human beings to share a room…has been for eons….if prisoners have issues with this simple arrangment that most children seem to cope with then too bad…..should’nt have done the crime.Rape is outside of what Im saying so no distortions of what I did say please..its boring.

    So you are retiring then Lew? The point I was making but appears to have gone over some very pointy heads is that its common practice for human beings to share a room…has been for eons….if prisoners have issues with this simple arrangment that most children seem to cope with then too bad…..should’nt have done the crime.Rape is outside of what Im saying so no distortions of what I did say please..its boring.

    Several points you appear to have missed:
    1) Siblings aren’t forced to share beds with violent criminals
    2) The victim (yes a criminal who is raped in prison is a victim) isn’t at fault for being raped, they can’t ‘make it work’ when someone rapes them
    3) In most household bed sharing situations, you aren’t locked up in a cell so if someone does try to rape you you can potentially escape
    4) In regards to 3, you can at least make a lot of noise and hope your parents (or whoever) hear if you can’t escape
    5) In regards to 3 and 4, if you really can’t do either, at least after the rape you have a good chance that if you do tell your parents, you will be be protected from now on rather then having your complaint ignored and/or being bashed up for being a nark
    6) Despite all the above, there are still some siblings who are regularly raped by their siblings.

    I also find this other comment interesting:

    It may interest you to know that all of our caucus agree with my sentiment that it is easy to avoid any of the unpleasant consequences of prison by the simple expedient of not committing crime – particularly violent crime; not many go to prison these days for other than serios violent offences.

    Notice the emphasis on violent crimes and violent offences? In other words, what Garrett is saying here is that why should ACT (or its supporters) care? It’s not as if those fraudsters and other white collar criminals (e.g. Bryers) who are the only criminals (well not counting the odd child-pornographers in their midst I guess a cross-over from their support in the Christian fringe) likely to vote for and be part of ACT are going to but raped in prison.

  19. Nil EInne on April 2nd, 2009 at 01:32

    Incidentally, isn’t it Garrett’s intention to see criminals much more readily go to jail. Surely he should have mentioned this when saying “not many people go to jail nowadays”?

    Also is that Singaporean former Green Party member and one time union leader who likely only joined them for their stance on crime and was number 9 or somehthing on their list still around?

  20. Fo on April 9th, 2009 at 17:42

    Quoth the Raven,

    You’re wrong about prison sentences in the US not significantly reducing crime. Also your comment about Labour increasing the sentences confuses causation with correlation. You need to ask whether the crime rates would be even higher if they hadn’t increased the sentences.

    Levitt, Steven D. (Winter 2004). “Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not” (PDF). Journal of Economic Perspectives 18: 163–190.

    http://pricetheory.uchicago.edu/levitt/Papers/LevittUnderstandingWhyCrime2004.pdf

  21. Fo on April 9th, 2009 at 18:17

    “What is wrong with our society that there are people who feel that way? How can we change that?”

    Some people lead deeply dysfunctional and messed up lives and should not have children. If you provided incentives to encourage them not to that might stop the cycle.

  22. jcuknz on April 9th, 2009 at 23:23

    The problem comes from people jealous of others, I say apparently, ‘getting something for nothing’ changing the rules and removing the support for families that existed what? 20<30 years ago. The damage has been done, along with the minimal dole payments of the nineties, which helped create a dysfunctional class, which bred another such group. With such damage to society, even though it is ‘only’ no more than 10% of our society, it is hard to pull back and society suffers from the simplistic “put ‘em in jail’ concept.

  23. Lew on April 9th, 2009 at 23:51

    Fo,

    For curiosity’s sake, are you the commenter otherwise or formerly known as BenR?

    L

  24. Fo on April 10th, 2009 at 03:26

    “Fo,

    For curiosity’s sake, are you the commenter otherwise or formerly known as BenR?”

    Heh, why because I’m always posting that study by Levitt whenever the issue of crime comes up? Yep, that’s me. I’ll use Ben R here if you want. Have a good Easter break, I’ll be away for a few days so won’t be visiting here.

  25. Lew on April 10th, 2009 at 11:31

    Fo,

    Heh, yeah, that was what made me think so. No need to change handles – do what you like. Have a good break as well.

    L

  26. [...] paedophilia; that he favours policy (now implemented) which means more prisoners will suffer rape as a consequence of their punishment; and that he thinks poor brown parents should be sterilised. He must be required to either defend [...]

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