McVicar interview misses mark

Written By: - Date published: 4:08 pm, April 12th, 2010 - 54 comments
Categories: crime, Media, Social issues, tv - Tags: ,

Russell Brown’s interview with the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s Garth McVicar on Media 7 the other night demonstrates exactly what a charlatan McVicar is.

When confronted with his racist near-endorsement of the stabbing of Pihema Cameron all McVicar could do is continually repeat the a pathetic line about bringing the issue into the spotlight.

That said there’s a lot that could have been dealt with in the interview that wasn’t.

For example Brown could have asked McVicar whether or not private prison interests have ever provided funding to the trust.

He could have asked him whether his media profile is due to the fact he approaches victims of crime early in the piece to broker media for them and then offers access only if the trust gets copy too.

Or he could have asked him about how closely the trust worked to campaign for Act and how explicit the payoff was.

He even could have asked him why the Sensible Sentencing Trust hadn’t yet registered as a charitable trust.

We’ve asked all of these questions before and got no answer. I’m also aware that many journos would like to ask them too. Brown had a chance and he failed.

54 comments on “McVicar interview misses mark”

  1. I haven’t seen the interview yet (not easy for me to get stuff like that to play on my home laptop) so can’t comment on that.

    However my understanding prior to the last election was that the SST’s deal with ACT over list placement for David Garrett (and the Asian Anti-Crime Group’s deal for Shaun Tan’s list placement too actually) was pretty widely known about?

  2. PK 2

    ***When confronted with his racist near-endorsement of the stabbing of Pihema Cameron all McVicar could do is continually repeat the a pathetic line about bringing the issue into the spotlight.***

    You think that he would have taken a different line if an Indian or Maori had stabbed Cameron?

    • Daveosaurus 2.1

      I think he would have taken a different line if Cameron had been the killer instead of being the victim.

  3. Tom 3

    IMO, Russell Brown did a great job on Garth McVicar, something no other media person has been able to do for maybe 10 years now. He certainly did a way better job than any Labour spokesperson has done in exposing the flawed notion that longer sentences and more prisons delivers less crime and safer communities.

  4. PK 4

    ***flawed notion that longer sentences and more prisons delivers less crime and safer communities.***

    Well, there is pretty strong evidence that those things do deliver less crime.

    Levitt, Steven D. (Winter 2004). “Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not”. Journal of Economic Perspectives 18: 163190.

    http://pricetheory.uchicago.edu/levitt/Papers/LevittUnderstandingWhyCrime2004.pdf

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      In which he surmises that most of the crime drop in the US in the 1990s was due to the 1973 ruling by the US Supreme Court in Roe vs Wade and that some was due to longer prison terms although the latter was less sure as there were places were longer terms was introduced and crime still climbed.

  5. Bored 5

    Brown failed to give McV enough rope to hang himself which would have been nicely ironic. Mc V reminded me of one of those Old Testament fire and brimstone tub thumpers whose God wants to devour anybody but his own chosen righteous followers. McV does not stop to consider that the righteous and their retributive God are a large part of the problem. The New Testament principle of forgiveness has passed him by completely.

    As a non religeous person I never fail to be amazed by how easily this contradiction gets ignored by the religious right, and their god children, the secular right. You can see their influence with groups such as Sensible Sentencing. McV and his ilk just dont want to see the whole picture of social and economic failure or even simple human frailty. They certainly dont see themselves as part of the problem. Like the Inquisition they just want blood.

  6. Rex Widerstrom 6

    I too think Russell did a way better job than any other journalist – certainly any other broadcast journalist – has ever done interviewing McVicar. He could, and should, have gone much further but alas Media 7 is clearly subject to the disctates of TVNZ’s programmers, who think that if anything goes beyond five minutes duration our little goldfish brains will lose interest.

    If any show wanted to devote a reasonable time to the debate (say, an hour) I’d happily debate McVicar and I’d endeavour to bring with me an articulate, passionate young woman who’s been a lifelong victim of violent crime (first at the hands of her father, then her partner and father of her children) but who couldn’t be more unlike McVicar and Garrett.

    As Russell said, there’s a huge amount of content on the SST website. While their conclusions are debateable (and IMO mostly wrong) there’s a vast amount of underlying research which first needs to be analysed and the results of that debated.

    For instance I often cite Levitt to make almost the opposite point to PK above! Perhaps there could be an hour of web-based debate on research for the policy wonks (complete with links), then a week or two later a broadcast debate on policy.

    Any TV channel up for it?

    [And if I may crave The Standard’s indulgence to repeat my plea that if anyone can think of a suitable funding source which might facilitate a trip to NZ by the young lady mentioned above, to undertake a media and speaking tour, please let me know – rexwiderstrom [at] hotmail [dot] com].

    • prism 6.1

      “of TVNZ’s programmers, who think that if anything goes beyond five minutes duration our little goldfish brains will lose interest.

      I think that should read “their little goldfish brains”.

  7. felix 7

    Well it wasn’t too bad given the time constraints – there’s only so much you can explore in a 5 minute interview though.

    So sad that even a show like media7 which seems to take journalism reasonably seriously is reduced to such soundbite oriented banality. It is, in fact, our soundbite media culture which allows vacuous sloganeers like McVicar to gain traction. It virtually guarantees that he will never have to fully explain himself because “oops we’re out of time”

    Imagine him spending an hour across a desk from Tim Sebastian. He would be naked, exposed and helpless.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    For example Brown could have asked McVicar whether or not private prison interests have ever provided funding to the trust.

    It is time for NZ to demand accountability from these types of organisations (organisations with political agendas). Full disclosure of their books and contracts. We need to know just what they’re doing and why.

    • Jared 8.1

      Ironically the same could be said of Unions.

      • prism 8.1.1

        Ironically the same could be said of you Jared. Don’t know what you are up to, but what unions try to do in NZ is transparent.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.2

        Another RWNJ running the spin again.

        Unions are transparent. In fact I think you’d find that most, if not all, institutions of the left are. The ones that aren’t are the ones on the right.

  9. ianmac 9

    A pity that Russell would ask a good question but then add a comment or two on the end. McVicar is like a politician in that he could choose to just answer the bit from all the words, that suited him. I guess that questions should be focussed and have a minimum of words. (Think of Question time failures.)
    I wonder if McVicar is self-funded.
    Anyway he does represent a large chunk of the population who want simple one line answers to complicated questions.
    “How should we get rid of the weed in our rivers? ”
    “Pour in tonnes of lethal poison. Simple answer. Ignore those scientists!”

    • prism 9.1

      ianmac Good point about keeping the question clean and lean. I have found that if I muddy the waters with extra comment the strength and direction of the original point of discussion gets sidelined and the example or comparison becomes the debate.

      I have noticed that some interviewers, such as Chris Laidlaw, ask a question and then spend about 30 seconds refining it to the particular point they want elucidated, which can fudge the priorities of the interviewee which would otherwise have been revealed in a more spontaneous answer.

  10. mcflock 10

    ***flawed notion that longer sentences and more prisons delivers less crime and safer communities.***

    Well, there is pretty strong evidence that those things do deliver less crime.

    Levitt, Steven D. (Winter 2004). “Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not’. Journal of Economic Perspectives 18: 163190.

    Interesting – so Levitt discards new policing methods as contributing to a drop in crime simply because Bratton became NYPD commissioner a year or two after NY’s crime drop began?
    To be flippant, I guess all those computer databases, patrol car workstations and forensic labs are a waste of money.

    More seriously, it’s a complete minefield to assert any relationship or lack thereof beyond the macro level because all factors are directly or indirectly plausibly connected: e.g. more police officers means more resources are being directed towards policing which means more innovative crime-fighting methods, from “compstat” to “community-oriented policing” to forensics, which means more people get caught which means more people get imprisoned. Bratton got the job in ’93, but the concept of “broken windows” had been expressed 10 years before that.*

    There’s also still a major disconnect between research focusing on macro indicators like GDP and research focusing on local initiatives which have varying degrees of success.

    And NZ’s prison rate doesn’t seem to be affecting crime too much.

    *”The New York City Police Department’s Compstat: dream or nightmare?” John A. Eterno and Eli B. Silverman (International Journal of Police Science & Management Volume 8 Number 3, pp218-231) okay quotes Bratton &Kelling quoting Kelling 1983. Indirect, but it gets there in the end.

  11. McVicar is a populist clown

    • prism 11.1

      And the populist calls for more punitive and longer sentences end up costing us all money without providing any long term program for reducing crime and criminal compulsions.

      Instead of spending on jail reorganisation and privatisation, it would be a step towards remodernising the prison and sentencing regime that lingers in 19th century attitudes and we could ‘throw money’ at innovative crime busting programs and monitor and report on them at intervals. One would be to stop quoting broad recidivist statistics and replace with crime diminishment figures. This would show as an improvement if, say, a previously violent woman only committed one crime, of minor shop theft in two years after being released.

      This could be justified by comparing it to the expenditure by the state on mining surveys before any money was returned to the state from the venture. For those who cannot think in other ways than monetary value and the market it could be put simply like this. Spending money on finding the ‘gold’ that is hidden in people would return a good dividend.

      I am also keen on postponed sentences after an initial jail period of say one month, and successful completion in that time of some useful learning. Further education would be mandatory or the remainder of jail term would be resumed.

  12. PK 12

    ***And NZ’s prison rate doesn’t seem to be affecting crime too much.***

    Well you have to ask what the rate would be if sentences hadn’t increased. Levitt’s other paper on abortion seems to show Roe v Wade increased access to abortion increased for those in the ‘underclass’. In NZ presumably the number of children born into dysfunctional welfare dependent homes has increased with job losses in the 80’s & the early 90’s recession. So you’d expect a greater pool of people likely to be involved in some form of crime.

    • mcflock 12.1

      … because we don’t have abortion in NZ?

      You seem to be developing two distinct points here. The primary criteria for “welfare dependency” (a bullshit term but never mind) is low income. So economic opportunities would seem to be connected to welfare payouts, even if not crudely definable as national GDP (debatable). Which is contrary to your reading of Levitt.

      The other point you might be suggesting is that welfare causes crime because it reduces a destitution threat to a pregnant woman, i.e. creates an alternative to abortion.

      Which is taking us back to the Garrett argument (NZ’s very own Godwin).

      • mcflock 12.1.1

        sorry, the missing logical step is economic conditions therefore seem to affect crime significantly, which is contrary to your reading of Levitt.

        This seems to be your model:
        A is poor -> A gets a child welfare benefit rather than having an abortion -> A’s child is neglected and commits crime.

        • PK 12.1.1.1

          ***mcflock
          12 April 2010 at 10:21 pm
          sorry, the missing logical step is economic conditions therefore seem to affect crime significantly, which is contrary to your reading of Levitt.

          This seems to be your model:
          A is poor -> A gets a child welfare benefit rather than having an abortion -> A’s child is neglected and commits crime.***

          It’s not just that A is poor. According to Levitt’s paper on abortion, low maternal education, having a teenage mother or growing up with a single parent also increase the risk of crime in adolescence. Also, unintended pregnancies were associated with poorer prenatal care, greater smoking and drinking during pregnancy, and lower birthweights (although these factors also seem linked with education).

          The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime.” Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2001, 116(2), pp. 379420. http://pricetheory.uchicago.edu/levitt/Papers/DonohueLevittTheImpactOfLegalized2001.pdf

          ***The other point you might be suggesting is that welfare causes crime because it reduces a destitution threat to a pregnant woman, i.e. creates an alternative to abortion.

          Which is taking us back to the Garrett argument (NZ’s very own Godwin).***

          That may be correct to some extent, although I think the US welfare reforms didn’t change fertility rates much. So you’d need to make contraception a condition of welfare to have a practical effect.

          • mcflock 12.1.1.1.1

            Most of what you mention are associated with socio-economic status, not just education. And I was talking about NZ: if Roe v Wade lowered the birth rate of welfare recipients, then what about NZ’s abortion laws?

            Any your comment “Levitt’s other paper on abortion seems to show Roe v Wade increased access to abortion increased for those in the ‘underclass’.” seems to contradict […]”although I think the US welfare reforms didn’t change fertility rates much. So you’d need to make contraception a condition of welfare to have a practical effect.”.

            My point is that you seem to want it both ways: having prison as a major factor in crime reduction ties you to abortion as another major factor (or Levitt isn’t so reliable), but this then ties you to welfare and economic factors as well as the McVictim “lock ’em up” response.

            Prison might be a significant factor, but it isn’t the sole factor:

            One may conclude, with considerable conviction, that the prison
            buildup was an important contributing factor to the violent-crime drop of
            the past few years. America would be a much more violent place had billions
            of dollars not been invested in prison beds over the past two decades;
            violent crime would not have dropped as far and as fast as it has.
            Nevertheless, violent crime would have dropped a lot, anyway. Most of the
            responsibility for the crime drop rests with improvements in the economy,
            changes in the age structure, or other social factors. Whether the key to
            further reductions lies in further prison expansions, or (more likely) in
            further improvements in these other factors remains an open question.

            Spelman, William “The Limited Importance of Prison Expansion”; p125 Chapter 4 in Blumstein, Alfred; Wallman, Joel; Farrington, David, Nov 28, 2005, “The Crime Drop in America” Cambridge University Press

            The problem with throwing in one-line comments about how X locked up more people and their crime dropped is that the entire debate tends to devolve into only that point to the detriment of everything else that works. By abandoning all other factors to masturbate about “getting tough on crime” and “non-parole periods”, and theoretical crime reduction from the hysteria is more than eliminated by the crime increases the other strategies previously prevented.

            Personally, that’s my pet theory as to why NZ is so screwed – media and politicians reduce everything to sound-bites and public policy is determined by back of the envelope reasoning (or ‘back of the 7-point credit card’: most registered parties are as bad as each other). It’s bloody stupid taking a multi-hundred page document with a dozen-page executive summary and binning or acting on it based on a one-line comment from a media whore and parasite of grief.

            And FWIW, if the ethnicities had been reversed I’m damned sure McFuckwit would have been demanding Emery get life.

            • PK 12.1.1.1.1.1

              ***Most of what you mention are associated with socio-economic status, not just education. And I was talking about NZ: if Roe v Wade lowered the birth rate of welfare recipients, then what about NZ’s abortion laws?***

              I’m not aware of the history of abortion laws in NZ. The take away point from the Roe example is that there was a significant change in fertility rates amongst mothers who statistically were more likely to have their kids become involved in crime.

              ***My point is that you seem to want it both ways: having prison as a major factor in crime reduction ties you to abortion as another major factor (or Levitt isn’t so reliable), but this then ties you to welfare and economic factors as well as the McVictim “lock ‘em up’ response.***

              I think that Levitt is probably right in terms of incapacitation (longer sentences) reducing crime, and abortion (to the extent that those statistically high risk groups had fewer children). Still I think it makes sense in theory that if there are fewer job opportunities then you’ll have an increased pool of people who might turn to crime (idle hands..).

              ***media and politicians reduce everything to sound-bites and public policy is determined by back of the envelope reasoning***

              Yes, well I think most countries have that problem!

              ***And FWIW, if the ethnicities had been reversed I’m damned sure McF*ckwit would have been demanding Emery get life.***

              You mean if a white tagger had been stabbed by a Maori property owner? I disagree. A fundamental belief of those who favour a hardline approach is that you should be able to defend your property.

              • mcflock

                ***I’m not aware of the history of abortion laws in NZ. The take away point from the Roe example is that there was a significant change in fertility rates amongst mothers who statistically were more likely to have their kids become involved in crime.***

                About the same timeframe.

                You’ve previously identified “mothers who statistically were more likely to have their kids become involved in crime” as people in an “underclass” or “dysfunctional welfare dependent homes”. Most of the factors you mention (education, smoking, and of course ‘welfare’) are strongly correlative with socioeconomic status. Which does seem to imply a “poor people breed criminals” subtext.

                Your referrals back to socioeconomic causes also imply that incarceration rates are not the only – or even main- word in crime reduction. If they were, NZ would be a very peaceful place. The fact that it is not is deniable only so far if we go with an ‘okay, it’s worse, but without us it would be even worserer than that!’ line. We have done the incarceration rate thing better than most, but I feel that this is to the neglect of other longer-term and more indirect options.

                Perhaps our society’s penal fixation is not entirely healthy?

              • PK

                ***Your referrals back to socioeconomic causes also imply that incarceration rates are not the only or even main- word in crime reduction…We have done the incarceration rate thing better than most, but I feel that this is to the neglect of other longer-term and more indirect options.***

                I didn’t mean to imply they were. I don’t think its an either or thing.

  13. Actually its Russell Brown who has found an ingeneous way of ingratiating himself with the criminal excusing establishment (as he wants to do) by knocking Garth rather than debating the facts or the issue. Guaranteed to get you invites to all the best government cocktail parties.

    • You know there’s been a change of Government, eh, Kevin? Your lot of frothers now have your own MP in Key’s motley to organise the cocktail party invites. He’s easily spotted; crisply ironed black shirt, highly polished jackboots. Silly moustache. You know the one.

  14. deemac 14

    @KH: “the criminal excusing establishment” – that really is beyond parody! C-, must try harder.

  15. denis 15

    All the Media know Mcvicars nothing more than a hate monger scaring old ladies into giving him money as well as opening scares on victims relatives to also give him money as Mcvicar is getting fat and you can also see with his hand movements that show Mcvicar is a liar and cheat.
    The media and politicians know Mcvicar covers up crime on behalf of his side kick members and beats me why they are not hanging him with it but maybe they need bad new to sell stories and are giving Mcvicar more rope to hang him self .
    NZ is a small place and the media must be desperate to air a conman like Mcvicar.
    You look at his members and meetings which are packed with only old people in their seventys and no young people.
    Mcvicars members are the same old bunch going round and round in circles with their lust for revenge and hate and the media going in the same circle even knowing Mcvicar is a fake.

  16. Ron 16

    Kevin Hicks said: “Actually its Russell Brown who has found an ingeneous way of ingratiating himself with the criminal excusing establishment (as he wants to do) by knocking Garth rather than debating the facts or the issue. Guaranteed to get you invites to all the best government cocktail parties.”

    Kev, I have yet to hear McVicar use any FACTS. He deals in assertions, a lot. He often uses phrases like “the crime excusing establishment”. When confronted with facts he resorts to rhetoric.

    I admit that I approached an SST stall recently just to test the waters. I asked the woman why I would sign her petition(?) and her response was “We have to do something about crime”. Fair enough. So,
    I asked her how her organisation would “do something about crime” and she said “We have to punish criminals more” When I asked her how this would address the issue of crime she responded “We’re too soft on them. They have to pay for their actions” When I again asked how SST were going to address the issue of crime she said “The victims get forgotten and the criminals get it easy” (or words to that effect). In other words – she had no clue. No policy. No facts. Just repeated phrases.
    Kev – just repeating something over and over does not make it a valid policy – or true..
    When McVicar comes up with some ideas that actually address the causes of crime and actually address the issue of how to stop offenders re-offending then we’ll start to take him seriously.

  17. Sanctuary 17

    Russell Brown is a media commentator and music journalist. He is an acute observer of politics, but he fools himself if he thinks he is a hard nosed journo who can take on the likes of McVicar.

    Media 7 falls between two stools. To short to be substantial, it lacks the pace to be fun infotainment. In short, it is unsatisfying without any redeeming substance. Russell Brown also lacks screen presence and punch. He likes soft interviews and appears to be anxious everyone loves his show. Bluntly I usually change channels after ten minutes.

    McVicar needs a well informed, theatrical reporter to take him on. As pointed out, he is a wiley operator who soothes his audience with sophistry and lies. Disingenuous people like McVicar need a reporter more combative and tenacious than Russell Brown who will challenge him – I suspect McVicar has a short fuse and could be manoeuvred into saying what he really thinks by a smart interviewer.

  18. Irish, the reason I didn’t ask some of the questions you wanted me to ask isn’t because I missed the mark, but because we’re not a current affairs show: we’re a media programme, and I was largely asking McVicar about his statements in the media, and use of it.

    One of the things that intrigued me when I did the research was, as I said to him, the deterioration in the tone of his communications on behalf of the SST. It actually used to be reasonably constructive in 2001 — now it’s often simply nasty.

    FWIW, the interview seemed short to all concerned, but the producer let that segment of the show run to about 15 minutes, more than what what we’d budgeted. We also cut some of the early part of the interview. (FYI, he has had media training and advice, pro bono from Andi Brotherston over several years. She was an SST member but isn’t any more.)

    Ironically, the complaint when I announced the show was that we were putting him on screen at all. Now people are complaining because he wasn’t on long enough!

    I think the show was pretty useful, and it embodied some lessons for anyone who actually does want to put an opposing case in the news media.

    • lprent 18.1

      I enjoyed it when I had a look at it last night (TVNZ could do some work on its on-demand – TV3’s is far better).

      It is probably the most questions that the SST has ever had asked about itself. Lord knows the authors here have been asking them for a while.

  19. Media 7 falls between two stools. To short to be substantial, it lacks the pace to be fun infotainment. In short, it is unsatisfying without any redeeming substance. Russell Brown also lacks screen presence and punch. He likes soft interviews and appears to be anxious everyone loves his show. Bluntly I usually change channels after ten minutes.

    I really oughtn’t respond, but it seems reasonable to point out that I rarely do interviews as part of the Media7 format, so your sample must be pretty small. And I guess if you want to see that interview as “soft” it’s your business. I trust you find more satisfaction in whatever else you switch over to.

  20. felix 20

    Russell Brown: “we’re not a current affairs show: we’re a media programme,

    Fair point, but I think a lot of us still associate you with “Hard News” and – perhaps wrongly – view your work in that context.

  21. Fair point, but I think a lot of us still associate you with “Hard News’ and perhaps wrongly view your work in that context.

    Well, the two certainly do cross over, and sometimes I get to explore pet subjects — I’m really proud of the autism-and-the-media show we did earlier this year.

  22. ianmac 22

    Have you noticed that when there is a high profile crime, perhaps a murder like Weatherspoon’s, Mcvicar is right there and “using” the family of the victim to promote his cause? Perhaps it might be justified as supporting victim rights but I find it almost ghoulish! Remember the Intermediate age girl who was going to protest before the Courthouse in Christchurch re the pending sentence of the the youth who murdered the taxi-driver? She was a McVicar protege.

    • PK 22.1

      ***Remember the Intermediate age girl who was going to protest before the Courthouse in Christchurch re the pending sentence of the the youth who murdered the taxi-driver? She was a McVicar protege.***

      I don’t recall this, but good for her.

      • ianmac 22.1.1

        PK:You think that it is good for a youngster to protest at an injustice? Me too. But this youngster was protesting BEFORE the sentencing. Her words were McVicar’s words. All people young and old in NZ should exercise their democratic rights. But not that way.

  23. Meg 23

    Well Russell, what I have seen of Media 7 is normally top notch and we often use clips of it in lectures on media pol and NZ pol. Keep up the good work!

  24. Stacktwo 24

    Russell’s interview was great. What it did show up was the facile, shameful ineptitude of practically all of the rest of the MSM in failing to do their own research on the issues of crime and punishment, failing to see the multitude of cracks in McVicar’s edifice and seeing him as a handy source of pithy, timesaving soundbites.

    One of the worst features of the so-called “Sensible” Sentencing Trust, is the gross paradox that while trumpeting the rights of victims, they continue to trample on any chance for victims to heal their wounds.

    I feel very sorry for the likes of poor old Rita Croskery. Iinstead of being helped towards the later stages of grieving, towards eventual release, she has been engineered into a life dedicated to maintaining the anger, hurt and sense of wrong. In public, what’s more, trotted out for every hearing of the Parole Board in the full glare of media publicity, as if the whole weight of responsibility for maintaining the engine of revenge falls on her thin shoulders.

    It’s all very sick.

    • Julie 24.1

      I agree Stacktwo, it really is very sad, and very sick. When Navtej Singh’s widow was on the front page of the Herald after the sentencing she was quoted as saying something about how her life was over from that day and while I understand there is some broader cultural context in that particular case, this “you life ended the day he/she was murdered” approach does seem to be one the SST encourages. And actually it’s _not_ the case. Your life has gone on, and there are many things you can do with that life. A terrible thing has happened, and it can’t be changed. And you will do other things, things that make you happy, things that make you sad, and some of those things won’t be related to the murder and some of them will. But your life doesn’t end on that day and people who tell you it has are Not Helping You.

      • PK 24.1.1

        ***I understand there is some broader cultural context in that particular case, this “you life ended the day he/she was murdered’ approach does seem to be one the SST encourages.***

        Where do they encourage that?

        • Lew 24.1.1.1

          By entrenching the survivors as eternal victims, emphasising their loss and helplessness. Not to say it’s all a box of fluffies, but people do actually cope with deaths and horrific crimes.

          L

          • prism 24.1.1.1.1

            The victim now gets a knee-jerk soundbite around and particulary after a court case. The punishment is always criticised as being too light, etc. The sad relatives hurting from their loss are encouraged to vent their feelings for the media, which turns their grief into cliches, and broadcasts it calling it news. I have complained to Nat Radio news at an extended almost interview being passed as news recently.

            What is upsetting is that so little is done to improve the situation so that offenders aren’t directed from their childhood towards such tragic outcomes. The same story churns around with insufficient investment in people and excessive amounts in prisons and police.

  25. Julie 25

    There was a very interesting interview with Damien O’Connor some years back, when he was Minister of Corrections I think, in which he talked about how disappointed he was in McVicar’s stance on restorative justice and rehabilitation processes in prison. He mentioned that the Govt invited the SST to accompany them to Finland (iirc) to see the work there, which has dramatically decreased BOTH the prison population and the recidivism rate, and McVicar went along. But once back in NZ, despite what O’Connor thought was a shared view on the value of going down the Finnish path, McVicar went back to beating the same drum.

    • IrishBill 25.1

      As I recall that was because O’Conner got caught out over including a suspended staffer on a parliamentary rugby team junket and in the ensuing mess the budding relationship with McVicar was lost.

      • Julie 25.1.1

        So McVicar’s experience of the Finnish approach was soured by a minor political scandal for O’Connor? That does not compute.

  26. mcflock 26

    @PK

    I didn’t mean to imply they were. I don’t think its an either or thing.

    And there we are in agreement (details notwithstanding). But I don’t recall McVicar issuing a press statement about anything *except* punishing offenders after the fact. If the SST have a comprehensive social policy that is oriented towards crime prevention, fair call on me. And in NZ, the major non-party body that lobbies on “law & order” is the SST. Other organisations tend to let things like research and qualified remarks get in the way of sloganeering.

    So, to make the entire thing nicely circular, the dominant NZ political dialogue on law & order seems to me to be the flawed notions that *only* longer sentences and more prisons deliver less crime and safer communities, and socio-economic factors are irrelevant to the rational actor’s sense of personal responsibility.

  27. Verona Glutz 27

    Many comments betray simply wrong superficial impressions. I’m a long time member. Members aren’t recruited they join. As a slice of crime victims they tend to be the types who are likely to follow the “do something about it” path versus the avoidance or passively wilt and die path. Victims are generally eager to do their media bit in order to help get progress, they ARE NOT scripted when lined up with media. If anything that could be better organised.

    I’ve been frustrated at being asked to speak on a current issue in one area while someone else from SST does it to another outlet and not ben given info on an official line so we’re all pulling together. It’s kinda like SST heirarchy just want people free to voice their own view. Certain resolutions about goals are passed at meetings, but the main outreach goal is just to communicate to communities what poor treatment victims get – most people don’t even know of the basic shortcomings. Like my relatives killer qualified for counselling but I who laid out a mangled body get none from ACC as “you weren’t there”. Millions of such BS – reason co-victims have high suicide rates for 5 years.

    The peer support is unsurpassable. Garth is not a short fuse guy – instead very easy going, fun and yes forgiving. Works like a maniac to fix unsafe system glitches. Note he removes shame pages from SST website if offenders demonstrate a period of model behaviour. AFAIK his family initially ploughed much funding in but now there are hidden big donors of unknown agendas. This seems to have affected the tack and resulted in some orchestration. The donors behind the scenes I mean – not Garth or the McVicars who just aren’t bully types. Look at content of submissions made and the red carpet Nat treatment lately emerged and my mind strays to Steven Joyce.

    Members on the whole aren’t vengeance freaks – all they seek (and they do rather than being manipulated to) is comprehensive improvement of the system as negotiated by victims. The SST has achieved time and again where no other org or quango has eg grants to homicide victims which is standard to cover outrageous system participation costs overseas. I’d even say victim rights advances of sorts which have no bearing on offender treatment is the primary business of SST. The focus on aspects of sentencing is fully warranted. Large numbers of members had their relatives killed by people on bail or early parole after serious crimes including rape murders, that made their high risk to the public obvious.

    The measures sought are attempts to close loopholes that are ridiculous. Why should people drive while awaiting hearings for drink driving? Why should the Judges get away with insane sentences that frequently are beyond belief? A watchdog os certainly needed. After the Roper report and the Waitangi Ttibunal agreement by Durie with the Crown in the 80’s to relinquish treaty rights to a seperate justice system on the condition of one that avoided imprisonment so far as possible we swung to a system that the criminally inclined considered a joke.

    McVicar admits to brushes in the law in his youth – and feels it right he got the message where the line was from real sanctions. The SSTs concern is with sociopaths who cannot be made safe for public exposure – the more time people with high levels of sociopathy are kept behind bars the fewer oportunities they have to gratify their predatory natures. As a prison nurse I know they don’t reform – that’s science. SST also supports broken windows policing as it works. Not the namby pamby stuff. Alongside that the bulk of members are sane enough to see the importance of contributing to a supportive uplifting caring community. Some of the more time advanced victims quietly commit to a lot of at risk youth work. They are hardly blue rinsers.

    The SST provides a very caring understanding community to people of high needs such as most people will never know. Oldies withhold judgement of newbies who are often in anger stages and give listening ears that noone in the public is often able to offer. Newbies get hope by seeing the calm and survivorship of oldies. Sometimes Mothers who’ve lost daughters hook up with daughters who’ve lost Mothers. It is a very special group of people with pure intent to make a difference for the benefit of those not affected yet. Stupidity is not an entry qualification, many do a lot of homework on crime prevention. This feeds into SST policy, and members make individual efforts as well. It’s grass roots and I hope it remins so.

    Garths not a real redneck, if anything he just plays the part in a bit of theatre sports to bring needed attention to our cause. But he’s not the Devils advocate – he fights inventively for victims. Look at the long haul support of the RSA victims. Without his support they’d just get crapped on 4 eva buy our so caring State that caused their tragedies through heinous offender processing.
    You want real rednecks – go to the States and see the pro death penalty campaigners. Big diff.

  28. denis 28

    Verno
    Thats a long story you wrote as who are you trying to convince besides your self also you say you are a prison nurse as that would be a conflict of interest on your work and veiws and sounds like you have been a victim also that Mcvicar has preyed on your hate of your work emotions also
    Mcvicar opens peoples scares leads to suacide and wonder how many on Mcvicars slaughter list.
    You said Mcvicar has brushed with the law in his youth and I know he still is brushing with the law this day such as cover up of child rapes while the several rapist walks free he knows about simply because his long time members are involved and is hiding the facts to save face while children are ar risk of further rapes.
    You state you are a long time member on the SST and now can not handle the truth that people know Mcvicar is a liar, cheat,conman and a village clown as I have his hand writing and emails cheating the public and siding with rapist.
    Mcvicar is a conman placing fear in the hearts of vunrable NZers especially related victims or the grannys to suck money from them to full up gas for his hate machine.
    A nurse for prison, what the heck are you doing in that job if you are a SST member or are you brain dead with a lust for hater and revenge as a inssider for Mcvicar.
    As I said Mcvicar preys on people like you that are emotionaly disturbed especially your JOB that you must hate as Mcvicar is as nasty as they come but has a hidden surface like a wolf in sheep clothing.
    Nurses are normally kind and caring but but sounds like you are a fake like Mcvicar.

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