The social determinants of the imprisonment - Offending cycle in New Zealand; and means of intervention into the cycle
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Persistent offenders have been a feature of the criminal justice system in New Zealand, at least during the period between 1923 and 1985, and these persistent offenders have been part of an underclass excluded from or marginal to participation in paid work and the dominant consumption patterns of society. Persistent offenders have also subscribed to a predatory moral and normative order. This thesis sets out to explain the existence of the predatory underclass, its value system and the prospects for its integration within the mainstream of society. A theory of social regulation is developed which proceeds through a critique of the works of Durkheim and Merton. The theory draws a distinction between primary and secondary levels of regulation, and relies upon the work of the 'regulation school' developed in France. The theory postulates that the offending of persistent offenders is the product of two social mechanisms, the exclusion tendency and the predatory potential of society. The exclusion tendency is the product of the way in which production and consumption are socially organised in capitalist societies. Production and consumption are linked through participation in paid work. The predatory potential on the other hand is a reflection of the extent to which persons are able to engage in the consumption norms of society without making a legitimate contribution to the consumption needs of society. Primary and secondary regulatory forces are analysed from 1923 to 1985 in order to specify the way in which the exclusion tendency and the predatory potential have interacted. Major changes in the way in which the two mechanisms have interacted are noted. Patterns of persistent offending are then analysed in the light of this analysis and the nature of persistent offending in two periods is contrasted to make clear the specific nature of the problem of persistent offending in the period from 1970 to 1985. The study stops at 1985 in view of the changes to the criminal justice system and the basis upon which persons would be sentenced to imprisonment. It is too soon to be able to specify whether the change in the legislation has altered the way in which imprisonment is being used and its impact upon persistent offending. The analysis provides an understanding of the changing nature of persistent offending and concludes that the problem of reintegrating persistent offenders into the mainstream of New Zealand society is unlikely unless the basis of the contribution and rewards system is reconstructed on a basis which is regarded as fair and reasonable by the persistent offenders themselves. At this time there is no evidence that they would regard the system as it exists or is likely to develop into, as fair and just.