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NZ Prison Suicides Experiment 1984 to 1988

Sat 17th October 2015

Illustration of Hazards From Failing to Monitor a New Social Programme Effectively

This analysis presents the prisons situation as an experiment.

The managers in prisons might choose to view the situation as resulting from prisoner violence, causing withdrawal of psychologist’s services, due to inability to safely protect the psychologists from violent prisoners.

Both viewpoints have some degree of validity, but if the managers were being prosecuted for the manslaughters, their incompetent interpretation shouldn’t protect them from proper legal accountability. (Officer, yes I am allowed to go faster than the speed limit, on nice days when I am in the mood to go fast.)

This example is included to show why it is important to monitor the performance of new programmes, to see that they are working as intended.
If you don’t know what the outcome will be, then you are doing an experiment.
If you don’t monitor the progress of the experiment, then you are unable to stop the experiment, if there are too many adverse outcomes.

If it can be shown that you could have detected outcomes by competent monitoring, then you take full responsibility for the preventable adverse outcomes.

Suicide Prevention in NZ Prisons 1969 to 1994 (25 years) NZ Department of Justice
page 11 Implies 51 suicides in 10 years
page 18 – 1 suicide in 1993 lowest figure since 1981
and 10 in 1994 highest ever shows high degree of fluctuation in annual statistics
page 21 76 suicides from 1969 to 1994
page 68 Figure 8 suicides 1969 to 1994
selected prisons only
Auckland West Prison 1
Auckland East Prison 18
Waikeria Prison 11
Mount Eden Prison 21
Total from 1969 to 1994 51

Page 23 paragraph 77
Experiment to measure cost effectiveness of psychiatric help to prisoners.
Criteria tightened under which Auckland prisoners allowed access to psychiatric help
Experimental design ABA
A – prisoners given access to psychiatric treatment 1968 to 1983,
B – access restricted from 1984 to 1987 and
A – then given access again from 1988 to 1994
Ethical approval of experiment was not shown in any of the Justice Reports.
Prisoner consent was not shown or indicated in any of the Justice Reports.

duration suicides suicide/year
Experimental Plan:
start end years suicides in period suicides per year
A 1968 1983 16 2 0.125
B 1984 1987 4 13 3.250
A 1988 1994 7 6 0.857

Base A suicide rate average 1968 to 1983 plus 1988 to 1994 – suicide rate per year
23 8 0.348
B Experimental treatment – withheld access to psychiatric treatment – suicide rate
4 13 3.250

Expected number of suicides through test period, if treatment not withheld. 1.39
Excess deaths due to withholding access to psychiatric treatment 11.61
Increase factor in suicide rate as a result of withholding treatment 9.34
ie 834% increase in suicides
Expected number of suicides, if access to treatment restored after 6 months 1.63
Expected number of suicides, if access to treatment restored after 1 years 3.25
Expected number of suicides, if access to treatment restored after 2 years 6.50
Looking at the numbers above, it would not really be possible, at 6 months to conclude that the number of suicides was significantly higher, due to withholding access to psychiatric treatment. The number of suicides might just be a cluster of suicides. However, after 1 year and 3 excess suicides, it starts to be clear that providing psychiatric treatment is important for prisoner wellbeing in death and life terms, let alone humanitarian issues.

This study generated statistically significant experimental data, that could be used to justify spending on psychiatrist’s salaries and secure treatment facilities for making treatment available to dangerous incarcerated prisoners.

As an example of the costs of delaying monitoring of an experiment on live human beings, this experiment could have been stopped after 2 years and reduced the roadkill element from 11.61 additional suicides down to about 6.50
Thus the delayed management reaction resulted in the unnecessary crushing of about 6.5 prisoners lives.
This delayed management reaction will have saved about 4 man-years of psychologist’s employment plus about 35 prisoner years of incarceration costs.
cost per year man-years total saving
psychiatrist’s employment 250000 x4 $1,000,000
prisoner incarceration cost 90000 35 3150000
cost of preparing ethical approval application 10000
experimental management saving, by not monitoring progress 20000
4180000
cost saving per life sacrificed by delayed management decision 836000.00
The net saving is about $4.2 million in wages at a cost of 5 lives ie about $836,000 per life unnecessarily lost.
2008 salary figures used

By exercising management discretion, about $4.2 million was saved, at the cost of about 5 lives. In analysis of road safety projects, they are authorised if they can save lives at less than about $2 million capital cost (2008, 2015 about $4 million).

References:
Suicide Prevention in NZ Prisons 1969 to 1994 (25 years) NZ Department of Justice
Explaining patterns of Suicide 2005 page 86 refers to prison suicide experimental deaths
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

24 Responses to “NZ Prison Suicides Experiment 1984 to 1988”

  1. JONO says:

    Forget anything Smith and Lightfoot might say on this subject and as for the current minister forget him altogether since by his own admission he has no involvement with operational matters hence his obvious ‘egg on face’ portrayals on TV Newscasts when SERCO shite hit fan. As far as DoC managers are concerned the more prisoners who kill themselves or other prisoners the better and corrections officers are encouraged to encourage prisoners to do so. Smith should be deported back to UK asap.

  2. MurrayBacon says:

    Although I am challenging prisons management on one issue, in general the Department has made major improvements in many areas, through the last 25 years. As a citizen, I am pleased to compliment their performance, against a very difficult financial background.

    As you point out, Serco seem to be a dangerous factor. This isn’t surprising, if profit is the primary objective. However, Sky City/National don’t seem to be the people we thought we were voting in a decade ago?

  3. Ministry of Men's Affairs says:

    Psychiatric care wasn’t the only factor that varied during the time periods shown. Prisons are complicated. Removal of educational provision, work skills training, prison enterprises and even dental services was also happening under a mentality that prison should be punishment and not be an opportunity to gain free stuff. At the same time basic treatment of prisoners improved somewhat under a philosophy that removal of freedom was the punishment and no additional abuse was warranted.

    Over recent decades male-demonising superstition with the support of both feminists and right wing ‘sensible sentencing’ groups has led to Corrections psychologists allowing themselves to become increasingly harsh and unjust assessors who are more concerned with protecting their own backs by over-predicting reoffending rather than showing compassion or risking any positive predictions. Also, many female psychologists have been employed who bring their feminist male-hating indoctrination and/or personal vendettas against men for some hurt they experienced. Law changes have proceeded in the same direction, with much longer sentences for crimes that men commit and, for example, draconian 10-year extended supervision sentences now provided as a double jeopardy after inmates have already served the entire sentence that the original Court saw as befitting the crime. Of course, these extra punishments are only ever given to males and are only available for the crimes such as sexual offences that males are much more likely than females to commit but that don’t necessarily cause more harm than many other crimes do. The psychologists provide the in-house justification for these Nazi-type oppressions by misapplying research, misusing assessment instruments to interpret everything in the worst possible light for the offender, and blinding the next Court with pseudo-science in their reports.

    Incredible when you think about it.

  4. voices back from the bush says:

    The game of ‘celebrity touch’ finally ended for Mils Muliaina Today. Seven months accused or sexual assault. Allegedly attacking a female by touching her bottom outside her trousers. We can never be told why the charges were dropped after seven months, I suppose his accuser has had enough limelight and perhaps even wanted to do other things with her life. Police claim a lack of evidence made them decide to drop the charge. Obviously there was no evidence. Police deliberately arrested him immediately after leaving the field in front of world media.
    Police sending a “strong Message” to show on tv that they take sexual assault allegations seriously. Mils was the victim of an overzealous police publicity campaign.
    After seven months of being accused Mils must be livid. I saw it in his face on the news broadcast.
    His statement expressing his disappointment at the way he was arrested and saying he was looking forward to spending time at home with family, acknowledged how the allegations had effected them also. Imagine what he might of said if he spoke freely about how he felt.
    The thousands he has had to spend on his defense combined with the disruption to his life. Some Sports Stars and musicians employ minders with camera’s to protect them from false accusers.
    How else can men protect themselves from predators like this.
    There’s been no apology from police.
    There’s been no apology from his accuser.
    No public retraction of the allegation the world heard he was charged with.
    His accuser remains totally anonymous and free to choose her next victim.
    She can not experience any negative effects from her allegations as it might prevent other young women (brave survivors) having the confidence to “come forward” other false allegations.
    The real “strong police message” is that women can destroy any man’s reputation and disrupt his life with any minor allegation.
    That’s girl power alright..

  5. MurrayBacon says:

    Dear MoMA, thank you very much for your comments and the knowledge behind them.

    Illustration of Hazards From Failing to Monitor a New Social Programme Effectively

    If you don’t know what the outcome will be, then you are doing an experiment.
    If you don’t monitor the progress of the experiment, then you are unable to stop the experiment, if there are too many adverse outcomes.

    If it can be shown that you could have detected outcomes by competent monitoring, then you take full responsibility for the preventable adverse outcomes.

    This example is included to show why it is important to monitor the performance of new social programmes, to see that they are working as intended.

    The skills and knowledge behind your comments would be of great value in making a more accurate estimate of the numbers of parents driven to suicide, by the familycaught$ and IRD child [and spousal] support. This estimate is a large part of the perverse outcomes from familycaught$ and DV Act. These effects have never been properly acknowledged by either the Lational or Nabour Governments, let alone been properly managed. As a result, many lives have been crushed illegally.

    I made an estimate of father’s suicides in 2008, but I made a calculating error. I believe that the actual resulting error in the final result was quite small and the conclusions that I made still stand. Due to my lack of experience with suicide and psychology, I had to make several conservative assumptions, resulting in an estimate that probably was quite a bit lower than the actual figure. If we could work together, to make a better estimate, this would be valuable?

    Cheers,
    MurrayBacon.

    Protection Orders – The Quantitative Figures at MENZ Issues

    DV Act – Women and Children’s Lives Saved Per Year

    NZ DV Act Cost Benefit Summary

    Lives saved per year women and children only 0.67 lives per year
    Lives lost fathers and children committing suicide -23.76 lives per year
    (These suicide statistics will be presented in a future comment.)

    Total lives saved -23.09 lives per year

    Perverse effects seem to dominate over the “desired” effects.
    Why did the Irishman beat his head against the wall? Because it feels so good when he stops.

    How long will NZ persist with familycaught$, DV Act and IRD child [and spousal] support?

    Until legal workers have spent NZ’s last dollar…….

  6. Ministry of Men's Affairs says:

    Good comments Murray.

    Voices: That’s a nicely written piece deserving of a letter to the editor or an opinion article. If the police claim that a lack of evidence led them to drop the charge, then surely that same lack of evidence should have led them to not lay the life-wrecking charge in the first place. Shall we fabricate some story of sexual assault by the prime minister and see if police simply charge him in the absence of enough evidence?

  7. voices back from the bush says:

    @ 6 Thankyou, Ministry for men, seven months accused is no minor inconvenience for Mils.
    Yes the lack of evidence against Mils and the fact that a bottom accidentally touched on a dance floor. probably happens 20 times a night in busy nightclubs I guess Police have never heard of a mosh pit . They’d have a field day. Can anyone imagine such a fuss if a famous female touched a single guy on the bum, no, that is considered- ‘fun’.
    Police placed a criminal charge on Mils because they had a complaintant/witness/victim they thought could go the distance.
    Without a witness there is no case.
    Mils’s lawyer has said that he is angry with police for the way he was arrested and that he wished he had been able to prove his innocence to properly clear his name.
    Instead the matter will remain on police files as ‘unproven’.
    Mil’s, now joins an increasingly expanding bewildered club, ‘the formerly accused’.
    The anger from this kind of experience doesn’t subside once the police say you can hold your head high again now.
    Now that police have decided they have no case, they claim that Mil’s should no longer feel ashamed?

    What a fucking insult.

    If Police were a person doing that we would call them a narcissist with no sense of responsibility. Unemployable, because of untrustworthiness.

    Some men take it out on other men,after false accusations- becoming dangerously agitated – the sort of blokes best not to find yourself in a road rage indecent with.

    The accusation was weeks before Mils was charged and he knew nothing of any allegation beforehand.
    He knew not, of the woman accuser.

    Nightclubs in the Uk have more TMO camera’s than an international final, if they had shown anything untowards, the camera’s are considered a witness and the matter would have gone to court.

    The police waited weeks for their moment to pounce achieving maximum coverage and humiliation.

    Why didn’t police consider Mils an International Statesman and treat him with dignity after such a minor compliant, wouldn’t it have been appropriate to have phoned him or his club with an appointment at the police station to answer questions.

    Do they think he might have fled?

    CHARGED, without question, and anything said by Mils from then on is considered by police to be lies because criminals will say anything to ‘get off’,dont-cha-know.

    Considering the celebrity status of Mils and the upbeat NZ rugby paradigm perhaps the press would run the article above especially as is doesn’t mention the statistics of false accusers or the fact that it happens to NZ men by the thousands each year,in NEW ZEALAND.
    The United Kingdom is one of the few places where false accusers are sometimes charged themselves.
    Also, -sometimes- fish fall from the sky.

    The only case’s where Women are charged is with when police spend time looking for an imaginary perpetrator. Police claim they don’t like having their time wasted. This is not the truth. Police don’t like these situations because it looks bad that they can’t find a suspect.

    A victim impact statement would have added to his punishment if he had been found guilty but media don’t go into any detail about the impact and hurt him and his family receive. And which would be considered greater?

    As for John Key well he’s had his turn, and the ponytail matter is still often in the top ten comments mentioned on trade me message board.

    But John admitted an indiscretion.

    Its worse for Mils,

    Its worse for the innocent than for the guilty.

  8. Downunder says:

    There is a political backdrop to the timeframe too Murray.

    The Lange government was elected in 1984, and Roger-nomics was rife through to 1988, until the wheels came off the machine with the rift between Lange and Douglas.

    The country was a rudderless windblown waka under Geoffrey Palmer until the Bolger government took over in 1990.

    There were huge changes with the closure of institutions, internal changes, provision of services.

    By 1985 Douglas had the country in meltdown, by 1990, when National opened the ‘secret books’ the country went into deflation, we were a basket case.

  9. DJ Ward says:

    From my own experience.
    The psychological profession has a lot to learn.
    Bedlam is only a blink into the past.
    The use of drugs is very concerning to me.
    There are many however that cannot be fixed due to injury.
    PS I despise P as it can be very harmful.

    I have expressed in the past that I don’t agree with the prison system.
    I see it as part of the justice toolkit.
    But not the normal path of punishment.
    Due to the psychological damage it can cause.

    My toolkit would be based on slavery (40 hour week).
    But taking advantage of modern business practices and equipment.

    I can think of magnificent things that they could build.
    Presently we waste the resource and money for no or little gain.

  10. MurrayBacon says:

    We really need more people to experiment on (said in a revolting american accent)…..

    Coercion and Informed Consent in Research Involving Prisoners

    COMPREHENSIVE PSYCHIATRY
    (Official Journal of the American Psychopathological Association)
    VOL. 45, NO. 1 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2004

    David J. Moser, Stephan Arndt, Jason E. Kanz, Michelle L. Benjamin, John D. Bayless,
    Rebecca L. Reese, Jane S. Paulsen, and Michael A. Flaum

    Prison-based research has been limited due to concern
    that prisoners may represent a vulnerable population
    secondary to possible coercion and limited capacity
    for voluntary informed consent. This study was
    designed to assess decisional capacity and susceptibility
    to coercion in prison research subjects. Subjects
    were 30 mentally ill prisoners and 30 healthy controls.
    The groups were compared on ability to provide informed
    consent to a hypothetical drug trial, susceptibility
    to possible coercion, neuropsychological functioning,
    and psychiatric symptoms. Results indicated
    that all controls and all but one of the prisoners demonstrated
    adequate capacity to consent to the hypothetical
    drug trial. However, when decisional capacity
    was measured quantitatively, prisoners performed
    significantly worse regarding two aspects of this ability.
    Regarding possible coercion, prisoners’ main reasons
    for participating in research included avoiding
    boredom, meeting someone new, appearing cooperative
    in hopes of being treated better, and helping
    society. Neuropsychological functioning was strongly
    positively correlated with decisional capacity and
    negatively correlated with susceptibility to possible
    coercion, whereas psychiatric symptoms were only
    weakly correlated with these variables. In conclusion,
    a very high percentage of particularly vulnerable,
    mentally ill prisoners demonstrated adequate capacity
    to consent to research. Lower scores on a quantitative
    measure of decisional capacity suggest that
    extra care should be taken during the consent process
    when working with these subjects. The reasons prisoners
    gave for participating in our research indicated
    that the prison setting may have influenced their decision
    to participate, but that they were not actually
    coerced into doing so. Despite serious past incidents,
    ethicists will need to consider the possibility that prisoners
    have become an overprotected population.
    © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    ________________________________________________________________________
    And they are so handy, we know where they are and they can’t run away and deny us access to the results….. sorry, I am dribbling……
    ________________________________________________________________________

    As a result, the nation is faced with the increasingly
    difficult challenge of providing adequate rehabilitative,
    mental health, and medical care to
    individuals who become incarcerated. Just as in the
    community setting, an essential first step in this
    process is to engage in ongoing, well-designed
    research studies. Although scientific studies represent
    the most effective manner in which to gain this
    critical knowledge, prison research has been
    greatly restricted during recent decades due to a
    number of factors. One is an understandable backlash
    to a time when prisoners were used as populations
    of convenience, and advances in ethical
    standards have led to stringent guidelines with
    respect to participation in research among incarcerated
    individuals. While it is critically important
    to recognize prisoners as a vulnerable population
    and to protect them from potential abuses, it is also
    of concern that they are systematically excluded

    from many human subjects studies. As a result,
    there is very little research being conducted in the
    prison setting, leaving opinion leaders and clinicians
    to rely on the dubious assumption that findings
    from studies conducted in the community will
    generalize to the corrections environment.
    Another factor that has limited prison-based research
    is the concern that subjects may possess
    inadequate ability to provide voluntary informed
    consent, due both to cognitive and psychiatric dysfunction,
    and also the possibility that prisoners
    may be coerced into participation. Obvious examples
    of such coercion include direct pressure applied
    by prison staff and an inmate’s subsequent
    belief that he or she will be punished for not
    participating. However, coercion can be defined
    quite broadly, and some would even consider the
    fact that participation may enable the inmate to
    leave his or her cell more frequently and interact
    with people from outside the facility as a form of
    potential coercion.3 As a result, some have gone so
    far as to label the prison setting as ‘inherently
    coercive.’4
    ______________________________________________________________________

    But wait, there is more!

    How many men consented to take part in compulsory trials of caught$ abuse, as a possible, but very unproven solution for DV allegations? (Well actually, almost proven ineffective. What was the Research Justification for DV Act?)

    How many men consented to take part in ird-cs abuse, as a possible solution to bureaucrats with desires to secretly abuse men?

    Good ethical behaviour isn’t just a nice thing to do. It has been shown to save many lives, when dealing with vulnerable or trapped populations. It is just as important in NZ, as in nazi germany or corrupt capitalist USA or Putin’s corrupt Soviet Russia.

    Anyway, just for a laugh, note that the paper referred to above, doesn’t contain any declaration about conflicts of interest! It doesn’t meet minimum ethical standards. They are pretty Psychopathological themselves.

  11. Downunder says:

    Yep, that’s the problem with civil law.

    I stake my claim … right through your heart.

  12. MurrayBacon says:

    Through my heart, wouldn’t kill me!
    You would have to know where my wallet is… I am as bad as a legal worker…

  13. DJ Ward says:

    I feel for this man.
    One would assume that for the state to imprison a person that they must had committed a crime.
    I have experienced something similar but on three occasions.
    And have things forced on me without consent that hurts me.
    I’m surprised that a large law suit has not been started by his lawyer In an attempt to protect this man.
    From the vexatious idiocy of the state.
    Where is the freedom to associate?
    Where is the freedom to have a belief?
    Look at the misery political parties create.
    Are they in prison without trial?
    Are they not a gang that has formed a pack?
    To have power and control over the week.
    And to impose their ideology.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11543381

  14. voices back from the bush says:

    DJ @ 13,
    It seems there is little or no concern from our govenment when our citizen males are imprisoned for no crime.
    As far as the gang policy is concerned, its all good in the hood as long as the violence is against males.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/63300921/White-Ribbon-hits-the-road

  15. Voices back from the bush says:

    People in prison are not allowed to vote. That’s 10,000+ people who have had their right to vote taken away.

    Last week, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision by the High Court that the ban on prisoner voting was in conflict with the Bill of Rights. Voting is a right, not a privilege. It’s time to call on the government to reinstate voting rights to those in prison, who are eligible, immediately.

  16. Evan Myers says:

    I have a question.

    Is a person on home detention in prison?

  17. Voices back from the bush says:

    16, home detention is not a custodial sentence. So no.

  18. Man X Norton says:

    People on home detention are still allowed to vote. Prisoners have their enrollment on the electoral roll cancelled and they have to apply to get on again after their release.

    Any policy affecting prisoners is a policy affecting mainly men, given the huge gender difference for imprisonment.

  19. Allan Harvey says:

    In my view it is a custodial sentence and can be extremely hard time to serve. Some lawyers consider it harder time to do than imprisonment. Sentence length can be from 14 days to one year no more for Home D.

    Home detention is both a punitive and rehabilitation sentence. It requires an offender to remain at a suitable and approved residence at all times and be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    Offenders on home detention must also complete programmes designed to address the causes of their offending.

    The sentence can address both the rehabilitation and re-integration needs of an offender, while placing restrictions on them such as being confined to a specific location, and special conditions such as electronic monitoring.

    Home detention allows an offender to seek or maintain employment, complete a sentence of community work if imposed, access programmes to address their offending and maintain their family relationships.

  20. Voices back from the bush says:

    According to the justspeak website:

    “The second part of the Court’s decision, which is still to come, will determine if the law which banned prisoners from voting was passed lawfully. If this happens, prisoners with sentences of 3 years or less will be automatically eligible to vote.”

    The decision will likely happen too late for the people affected to enrol and vote in this year’s General Election.

    For anyone interested to support their endeavor, they have a draught proposal on the site for people to write to mp’s in support of the issue.

    The justspeak group run awareness campaigns, mostly to help teenagers who are at a vulnerable cross roads regarding thier future prospects and oppertunities.

  21. Man X Norton says:

    Allan @19: Home detention is officially called a community sentence but yes, it is very hard for some. I have known people doing home detention sentences who asked to have the sentence reviewed so they could complete their time in prison instead. One challenge is that mates come to visit with booze and drugs, or they are just mates who have criminal histories, and the offender finds it hard to be assertive in order to send them away and/or hard to resist the company or the temptations. They then experience high anxiety because officials will call in unannounced any time of the day or night and will find the offender breaching conditions, leading to a further criminal conviction. Such a conviction is serious because it will make it hard for the person to be trusted for a future community sentence or even bail. So some people find prison much easier and with less stress.

  22. Downunder says:

    Apparently there is another man ‘in prison’ in New Zealand. Not sure if anyone followed the story about the 50 something lawyer who returned from the UK to an 85,000 student debt.

    Claims he is a tall poppy in the eyes of the IRD and can’t visit his elderly parents in Australia without being arrested – for trying to escape?

    Also I thought his suggestion of a late in life bankruptcy to escape the student debt interesting, when a father cannot escape child debt in that way.

    The structure of the job market going forward and the supposedly higher pay that men supposedly get – will that have male student debtors leaving suicide notes to the IRD in the same way as child loan debtors?

    Rembering that the DPB is a contract between t(he) State and the woman, and the civil debt is recovered with interest from ‘a father’.

  23. Voices back from the bush says:

    22, This man’s situation was discussed on talkback a couple of days ago, according to the radio hosts:

    Student loans, cannot be eliminated by becomming a bankrupt.

  24. Downunder says:

    I pointed this out to Stuff.co.nz but they refused to clarify the misinformation.

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