Prime Minister 'open to ideas', including working with Labour, to slash New Zealand's prison population

The Prime Minister says the Government is "open" to working together with other political parties to reduce New Zealand's prison population.

On Sunday, Labour's Corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis proposed a cross-political party approach to try and cut the number of people incarcerated.

Today, Bill English, speaking on TVNZ 1's Breakfast welcomed Mr Davis' idea.

"We're open to ideas from anyone," said Mr English, adding that the Government has made a push to rehabilitate prisoners.

"They (ideas) need to be well thought through, pretty convincing and we've been working with a whole lot of people, particularly in the last few years as we've put all this extra cash into alcohol and drugs, literacy and vocational training," he said.

Speaking on TVNZ 1's Q+A, Mr Davis said urgent action was needed to cut the prison population, which according to Corrections sits at close to 10,000 people.

Mr Davis says if we think prisoners are “going to come out better people … we’re mistaken”. Source: Q+A

"We need to sit down and say, 'What are we doing, regardless of who's in government, to reduce the prison population?'" he said.

"The more people we throw in prison, the more people have to at some stage come out of prison, and if we throw them in there and if we mistreat them we think that by making conditions really harsh in there that they're going to come out better people - well then we're mistaken," Mr Davis said.

Waitangi Tribunal report finds Corrections is failing Maori

In a report released last Tuesday the Waitangi Tribunal slammed Corrections for failing to keep Maori from a "destructive cycle" of re-imprisonment.

Around 10,000 Maori children have a parent in prison, the report says.

"This presents a grave risk that the impacts of re-offending will reverberate through the generations, creating a destructive cycle."

Corrections boss Ray Smith welcomed the report and said the recommendations are fair.

"I acknowledge that the rate of Maori re-offending is unacceptable and presents an extremely serious issue for New Zealand," he said.

Labour's Kelvin Davis on Sunday called for cross-party action to reduce numbers in our jails. Source: Breakfast