The Government looked to be winning on this one, at least for those of us who think there's got to be a better alternative to locking people up.

They're about to reject National's plan to build a billion dollar mega prison at Waikeria which we're told would house 2500 inmates, slightly less than a quarter of the number we've got locked up at the moment.

The Beehive's also planning to unravel the silly three strikes law that the judiciary have taken scant notice of anyway. The fourth person being sentenced for his third strike yesterday got a minimum sentence of 20 years for murder, with the judge deciding life without parole would have been manifestly unjust for the 26-year-old. The other three sentences under the draconian law have met with the same result, parole in each case has been allowed.

Judges already have the ability to send people away indefinitely, it's called preventive detention. A justice round table in August will look at why our prisons are bulging at the seams and what alternatives there are to prison.


Tough bail laws introduced in 2013, denying bail for serious offences, appears to have been more widely interpreted with the remand population in our prisons out of control. Twenty per cent of our prisoners, that's more than 2000, are there on remand.

There's no doubt bail should be strenuously denied for some offenders, like Akshay Chand who was on bail for kidnapping and threatening Christie Marceau with a knife. He was inexplicably released on bail and just over a month later killed the young woman.

Some would say that one death like Christie's would be enough to lock them up while they await trial. And in this case that's true but it was an exception rather than a rule.

The Government's looking at a criminal justice package of measures rather than building more prisons, which is essentially burying the problem rather than addressing it.

Just as it seemed to have the upper hand over Simon Bridges, who was accusing it of going soft on crime and putting our safety at risk, it scored an own goal.

Andrew Little dropped what appeared to be a clanger and a partial explanation as to the growing remand population, that Housing New Zealand was banning remand or parole prisoners from living in state houses. Many were being kept in prison as a result we were told.

Not so said his colleague Phil Twyford, there's no ban in place, immediately weakening Little's argument. But Little was adamant, citing examples of bail being declined because of a state house address.

Anecdotes over actuality it seems - let's hope the law changes are based on the latter.