A lack of support to assist offenders re-integrating into society and a lack of funding for community services are some of the issues with justice in Northland, says Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis.
Mr Davis and fellow MPs Peeni Henare and Louisa Wall were in Whangarei yesterday representing Labour's Justice Committee. The group stopped in to visit organisations including Family Works, Barnardos and Whangarei Youth Space, to find out some of the issues regarding justice in the region.
Mr Davis, who is also Labour's Corrections spokesman, said one of the issues raised during a visit to Family Works was that there needed to be more support for offenders to integrate back into the community after being released from prison to reduce the risk of reoffending.
"So there are some parenting programmes in prison, and they're doing a really good job. But the big issue is when offenders are released from prison they have few options. So they might have done all this good work in prison but have to go back into the environments - with drugs and alcohol and no support - that put them in prison in the first place and it unwinds all that good work," he said.
Mr Davis said there was also a lack of support for female offenders who had been imprisoned at the Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility.
"There's been an issue for women where they are imprisoned in Auckland and then when they come north they have no home, there is a lack of halfway houses and they find it hard to reconnect with their children," he said.
Mr Davis acknowledged while offenders needed to be punished, some of them needed help for mental health issues or drug and alcohol problems.
He said there needed to be more funding for community services so they are able to help address issues which may contribute to offending and reoffending.
"We need to reduce the number of people in prison. Some need to be punished, but some need to be helped because if you're throwing people in prison you're almost condemning them to a life in prison," he said.
Mr Davis said after their visit to Whangarei they would discuss issues raised and look at how that may influence Labour's policy for next year's election.