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What about the violent offenders?: The possibilities and problems of prison abolition in New Zealand

This thesis engages with the issues of mass incarceration and violence in the developing field of research on post-prison societies. Rather than restating the abolitionist argument, this thesis seeks to address three key questions, all with a specific New Zealand focus. Questions one and two broadly explore the barriers to prison abolition and what strategies, policies, and interventions are necessary for New Zealand to become a post-prison society. The third question explores alternative approaches to violent offending in New Zealand, discounting the current system of imprisonment. The research involved nine semi-structured qualitative interviews (six were face-to-face, two through video call, and one through audio call) with academics, advocates, and persons with relevant experience with the criminal justice system through employment, advocacy, or in a research capacity. Much like the previous literature, this thesis problematises the ‘place’ of prisons and the current approaches to general and violent offending. This thesis highlights public attitudes, structural or macro-level barriers, and the absence of an abolitionist plan as significant barriers to prison abolition in New Zealand. This thesis also found that early intervention and prevention, the establishment of a consistent and identifiable abolitionist framework, and greater use of in-community alternatives and treatments are considered integral strategies within the incremental steps required to move New Zealand towards a post-prison society. Moreover, this thesis highlights the importance of recognising that violence is deeply contextual and should thus be a vital factor in decision making for how to respond to these forms of harmful behaviour. Finally, demonstrated by the spectrum of perspectives, this thesis argues that those at the centre illustrate the potential for a future reformist and abolitionist collaboration, and a significant possibility for movement towards a New Zealand without prisons.
Type of thesis
Hoek, K. (2020). What about the violent offenders?: The possibilities and problems of prison abolition in New Zealand (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13969
The University of Waikato
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