Letter: Good reasons to serve bans in prison

Last updated 12:00 27/02/2013

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OPINION: Your editorial (Feb 25) says it's ''insane'' to allow prisoners to serve driving disqualifications in prison, and that ''nobody could possibly defend it''.

All this has blown up because Jonathan Barclay killed Debbie Ashton when driving over the limit and appallingly badly soon after getting out of prison. He was in fact a disqualified driver at the time he killed her.

There are very good reasons for offenders to use prison time to clear their debts to society, attend courses addressing drugs/alcohol or other issues and get into a frame of mind to do better when they leave.

One key to that is a job on release and a good grip on interacting with people. In our world, that means being legally able to drive.

Efforts should be made in prison to get everyone to leave with driving skills, enhanced driving attitudes and a current licence. My experience is that many prisoners have never had a licence or, if they have, it's seldom been in force. Getting across the message that a licence is something to value is a major public good. If it can be done in prison, good.

ROBERT LITHGOW, QC

Barrister, Wellington

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