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Renewed questions over Sensible Sentencing Trust & GEO Group

Written By: - Date published: 10:59 am, April 16th, 2010 - 44 comments
Categories: crime, prisons, The Standard - Tags: ,

Given National’s announcement of the first private prison, it’s appropriate to renew the questions about links between the leading advocates of harsher prison sentences in New Zealand, the Sensible Sentencing Trust and GEO Group, a US private prison operation that changed its name after its previous title, Wackenhut Corrections, became a byword for corruption and abuse. Who is really behind this privatisation and longer sentences agenda? It’s time Sensible Sentencing came public on its funding sources.

Here is Tane’s post from last year raising those questions, followed by Lynn’s on Sensible Sentencing’s intriguing non-denial:

One of the features of a privatised prison system is the potential for corruption of the political process by the commercial interests of private prison operators.

Thanks to Tom in the comments it’s come to light that GEO Group, the company formerly known as Wackenhut and main contender for National’s privatised prisons, has funded ‘tough on crime’ lobby groups in the US to help fill their private prisons and improve their profit margins.

CCA and The GEO Group are major contributors to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a Washington, D.C. based public policy organization that develops model legislation that advances tough-on-crime legislation and free-market principles such as privatization.

Under their Criminal Justice Task Force, ALEC has developed and helped to successfully implement in many states ‘tough on crime’ initiatives including ‘Truth in Sentencing’ and ‘Three Strikes’ laws. Corporations provide most of the funding for ALEC’s operating budget and influence its political agenda through participation in policy task forces. ALEC’s corporate funders include CCA and The GEO Group. In 1999, CCA made the President’s List for contributions to ALEC’s States and National Policy Summit; Wackenhut also sponsored the conference. Past cochairs of the Criminal Justice Task Force have included Brad Wiggins, then Director of Business Development at CCA and now a Senior Director of Site Acquisition, and John Rees, a former CCA vice president.

By funding and participating in ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Forces, critics argue, private prison companies directly influence legislation for tougher, longer sentences.

Could the same thing be happening here? The extremely well funded and media savvy Sensible Sentencing Trust has come to dominate our public discussion on law and order in recent years but they’ve steadfastly refused to reveal where their funding is coming from. Their policy platform of “truth in sentencing” and “three strikes” matches ALEC’s right down to the rhetoric.

As we’ve pointed out in the past, the SST has gone to such lengths to hide their funding that they’ve publicly refused to comply with the Electoral Finance Act and have even declined to register under the Charities Act despite the tax benefits, because doing so would force some transparency over who’s paying the bills.

In the interests of democracy, now would be the time to start putting some hard questions to Garth McVicar about whether his organisation has received any funding or help from GEO Group, Corrections Corporation of America or any other private prison company or interest group. And while we’re at it, it might just pay to ask ACT and National too.

—————————————————-

Yesterday Tane did an excellent post speculating on links between the Sensible Sentencing Trust and GEO Group. GEO Group derived from the notorious Wackenhut Corrections and it now wants to run privately run and publically funded prisons in NZ. In the US, the GEO Group supports organizations preaching almost exactly the messages as the SST does here.

What has been really intriguing was the reaction (or rather the lack of it) from the supporters of the Sensible Sentencing Trust in the blogosphere. The only response has been a press release from Garth McVicar. This interesting document contains the usual attack lines on The Standard culled from the wingnut sites. Perhaps he should read our About which clearly states what type of site this is, the diversity of opinion of the writers, and who funds it. That way he will avoid the earlier gaffs by Bill English on that subject.

The few points in the press release that do not relate to our site, carefully avoid the question of funding of the Sensible Sentencing Trust. It looks like badly written classic PR misdirection.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust is funded by public donations and receives no government funding.

It doesn’t state that they have or have not received any donations from GEO Group because their ‘public’ donations are not available to public scrutiny. They get donations received from the ‘public’, which could include donations from GEO Corp.

They even had the audacity to suggest that someone should ask who was paying my salary.

Tane didn’t even mention who was paying for Garth McVicar, just the funding of the Sensible Sentencing Trust in relation to private prison operators.

This press release raises even more questions about the role of the Sensible Sentencing Trust and its underlying financial support than it clears. It would have been easy for Garth to simply say that they have not received donations from private prison operators. That was not done, which makes the silence on this subject extremely interesting.

So I’ll reiterate the points and questions that Tane raised that the SST should answer …

The extremely well funded and media savvy Sensible Sentencing Trust has come to dominate our public discussion on law and order in recent years but they’ve steadfastly refused to reveal where their funding is coming from. Their policy platform of ‘truth in sentencing’ and ‘three strikes’ matches ALEC’s right down to the rhetoric.

As we’ve pointed out in the past, the SST has gone to such lengths to hide their funding that they’ve publicly refused to comply with the Electoral Finance Act and have even declined to register under the Charities Act despite the tax benefits, because doing so would force some transparency over who’s paying the bills.

In the interests of democracy, now would be the time to start putting some hard questions to Garth McVicar about whether his organisation has received any funding or help from GEO Group, Corrections Corporation of America or any other private prison company or interest group.

These are legitimate questions to ask a lobby group that is pushing for changes in public policy and therefore public funding. Garth McVicar should answer those questions unequivocally and without the deliberate ambuigity of his last press release. If not, then perhaps the NACT government should ask them of their SST member David Garrett. The formation of public policy should be done in a transparent way, and not distorted by the private interference of a beneficary of those policy changes.

44 comments on “Renewed questions over Sensible Sentencing Trust & GEO Group”

  1. Lizzy 1

    It is incorrect they’ve failed to register with charities commission. Members have made submissions to CC to effect that CCs initial decline of registration as it considered SST to be a lobby group not engaged in enough charitable work to be wrong. I’ve seen the decline letter – its been well publicised in media. SST continues to await approval unless the application was withdrawn so far as I know. Is the article writer seeking to mislead in stating no charities application was/is made, or do they have inside info that SST is not in earnest seeking registration?
    It’s hard to imagine why a Corp would fund SST to promote strikes given the policy on thetable really is so weak it won’t up prison musters. That would be a tupid corporation. And if SST had a big benefactor then why is it seeking in recent submissions (see website sub re victim rights) to become Government funded? Maybe the conspiracy theorists ound here are paranoid…

    • Pascal's bookie 1.1

      It’s hard to imagine why a Corp would fund SST to promote strikes given the policy on thetable really is so weak it won’t up prison musters.

      So are you saying that corps would prefer tougher things, like those the SST lobby for?

      And if SST had a big benefactor then why is it seeking in recent submissions (see website sub re victim rights) to become Government funded?

      Why wouldn’t they?

    • Um, if they have not registered then it is correct that they have failed to register with the Charities Commission.

      It should be very easy for the SST to get registration. If their purposes are the assistance of victims and the education of the public these are eminently charitable purposes. All they would need to do is amend their constitution. Of course then they may have to give up the overtly political role they currently have and actually base their pronouncements in reality.

      By not registering they invite this speculation to be made. The benefit to them is that they do not have to disclose how they are funded.

      They can remove this speculation by releasing information of their funding.

      I wonder if they will?

    • lprent 1.3

      This post is a composite of two posts from last year, which reflects the information available at the time.

      Personally I haven’t been around SST’s website since then, because it was a rather turgid experience last time (and Tane is doing a sabbatical from the site).

      I’d be pretty interested in looking at the reasons in that decline letter. But in essence from my perspective I’d agree with the CC. It has been hard over the last few years to see charity work going on that isn’t directly related to lobbying.

      The 3 strikes however is merely the (stupid) end of the spectrum. During the time that the SST has been operating as a lobby group in the media, it has been noticeable that the legislation for sentences has continuously increased, and the sentences handed down by judges has markedly increased. I think that SST had a considerable part in that by providing nice juicy fear stories for the media.

      This is largely during a period where crime, both violent and non-violent, has been falling in almost every category in a manner that makes sentencing unlikely to be a consideration because it has been so consistent across all types. That hasn’t been in the media much. It implies that the better economic times and increase in the size of the police force have more to do with it than daft sentences.

      Meanwhile the SST is incredibly secretive about their funding, which inevitably leads to questions about their motivations. All they really have to do is to make that reasonably transparent.

  2. DeeDub 2

    It’s fairly easy for SST to nip any conspiracy theories in the bud then Lizzy. All they have to do is publicly deny they have received any donations from GEO or anyone like them. It is strange to me that they seem unwilling to do that?

  3. Bright Red 3

    And, Lizzy, a private trust is free to open its books even if its not a registered charity.

    If you’re so well-informed that you’ve seen the decline letter from the Charities Commission, perhaps you can say why won’t SST say who’s funding it?

  4. Lizzy 4

    I don’t know who pays for our lunches and I don’t like that – much of the meat is off McVicars farm. All sorts of people and interests are members all pushing to influence policy – which of course arises some conflict – I may be wrong but I perceive a slight Nat guiding hand behind which voices triumph. moderate voices have ensured ratified policy ws not as extreme as some motions in original form.
    Senior Nats are open re membership. It is not a homogenous org having thousands of members. Many are hard core Labour and “working class”.
    The charities comm letter with decline reasons was misinformed and a clear beat up. It assumed only the lobbying activities seen in media constitute SST work. It legalistically cited select Garthism media statements, and some website content to prove high lobbying activity levels. This misrepresents the scope of work – a huge amount of victim support occurs, which many members have written to CC to highlight and which Victim support is rightly threatened by. Vic support is neutered to express real victim gripes by its Govt funding.
    To qualify your “charitable” activities such as victim support must exceed on balance your lobbying eg Sallies lobby and do a lot of hands on aid. This is what SST needs to make a case for, and has pleaded and is per Garth now awaiting a final verdict as to registration. This is not the same as “not registering” – it is in process.
    The process for building policy and making subs is not sophisticated for a large org – it does need to get better educated human resource to analyse research etc but I think some ideas get up steam simply by the democratic inclusiveness of all comers. A lot of victim members are lower socioeconomic and not tertiary educated and this reflects in the quality of analysis / subs at times. Other members have good skills. It’s a mixed bag and charities only get the professionalism they can afford. I prefer funds go to the important conferences where support and networking and workshops that look at and deal with current real time issues occurs (making a diffrence for ironing out serous issues faced by the latest reluctant media darlings in order that next victims won’t face same same), than to pay a bunch of policy analysts.
    If Labour cant beat the buggers more members should join and work to improve the best of policy and perhaps let the rest die natural deaths. Labour is making a mistake with the discredit and stereotype approach. If they don’t align and seek working relations with a major voice for the trampled others will moreso.

    • lprent 4.1

      I’m a bit restricted in bandwidth to respond at present (left my cellphone at home today), and I’m sure you’ll get a lot of comment anyway. But I’d make one point about what appears to be a misconception on your part…

      I haven’t seen the Labour party make a statement on the SST except as a side-issue on policy.

      This site isn’t the Labour party, isn’t funded by them, and isn’t controlled by them. The only connection is that some of the authors (like me) are members of the Labour party, along with a number of other organisations that we’re interested in. Many of the authors have no connection to the Labour party and get peeved when people assume that they are. Read the about. This is a site set up to talk about politics from a left perspective.

      Now my political approach is generally pretty centerist and frequently centre-right. From my perspective the SST looks suspiciously like some of the lobby groups set up in the US by the private prison and law enforcement lobby to boost their business. That is a major issue for me when considering much of what the SST says. It obviously for many others here as well. In particular the emphasis that the SST continues to have on sentencing in their lobbying when there is no clear evidence that has much of a deterent effect, or does much apart from boosting the prison population.

  5. ianmac 5

    Lizzy: “This misrepresents the scope of work a huge amount of victim support occurs,”
    It seems to me that the SST uses victims’ distress to further their cause. I cannot believe that it serves well victims or the families of victims, to be plastered over the media. And for a long time afterwards. So in my book shame on Garth McVicar for doing what he does.
    I can however sympathise with the agony of victims and that of their families. Just abhor the “using” of them by the unscrupulous.

  6. ianmac 6

    And I wonder if a group was receiving significant funding, would it worry the group too much to not have CC approval. Why not go through the motions of applying to distract the suspicious lot, so that you can say we did try but keep the funding obscured?

  7. Lizzy 7

    Ianmac – you’re pretty wrong there. The victims wilfully whore their own distress to help progress victim rights. They are consenting adults. It doesn’t harm – it empowers. I know people prefer sanitise reality for their own comfort but showing the pain is unfortunately the primo way to further agendas that aid the victim sector and thereby society ultimately. No pressure is applied to vics to media pander. I’venever sen the “using of vics by the unscrupulous” in long dealings. Vics get media exposure like it or not so they may as well be supported and assisted to deal with it. SST gives media training en masse by having journos tell us how the game works. That is the opposite of exploitation. It is letting media persons of integrity help us gear up. We are told its our right to tell media to bugger off if we want and SST will be right behind us if we do. Such info from professionals is valuable. Media has a formula – it likes to portray victims tears and angst, we’d as happily show them our recovery stories too but they just aint interested in that. Support from SST – including media management training – is not harmful to victims. The suicide rate among SST members I’d say is lower than among non members who’ve suffered homicide. The concerted attempt to portray Rita Croskery, susan couch, kelly piggot and others as pawns kept in perpetual victimhood is laughable when you know these people. They are survivors who’ve embarked on an important journey to raise understanding of crimes effects and the need for a better plan.

    Repost from post by Verona under article re Russel Brown GM interview

    Members on the whole aren’t vengeance freaks all THEY seek (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.

  8. Lizzy 8

    BTW it’s not new policies upping prison musters. A report by Labour back in 2003 that was toured round all the marae predicted the inmate number blow out based entirely on projections relating to the 1990’s brown baby boom. It showed something like 1 in 4 kohanga reo kids needed a bed booked. And showed crime declining in other groups – similr levels to Scandinavia.

    Labour and the Nats have passed many policies and laws to reduce jail likelihood and average sentence since. Home detentions extension to serious violent offenders / drink drivers etc. In November they reduced the max sentence for drug impaird driving causing death from 5 to 3 years. The presumption is diversion for the commonest offences such as cannabis possession. Ministry of Justice is constantly seeking policy and legal adjustments to further reduce jail risk.

    While the max for murder has been increased this does not effect musters as high sentences are only handed out sporadically to high profile media cases to create an impression toughening up. Increased maxes don’t affect benchmarks – this would require set minimums which there has not been drive for.

    NZ is only overimprisoned because we’re a criminally oriented and violent culture. But if we did not deliver baby food cotton wool sentences that average far far lower than tariffs in most OECD countries and applied typical overseas sentences our already high muster would likely double. Tough justice simply isn’t politically or fiscally do-able here, it would remove too many voters from polling booths and taxpayers from the pool. Any “toughening” by the SST machinations is therefore likely to be trivial (has been allalong) or faux to impress post war baby boom Nat voters.
    The overall trend on close analysis is steady liberalisation.

  9. ianmac 9

    Lizzie. You are a passionate advocate for your cause. There are many who no doubt benefit from SST support.
    You say:”They are survivors who’ve embarked on an important journey to raise understanding of crimes effects and the need for a better plan.”
    My trouble is that I agree with that intent but totally disagree with your solution.
    We all agree that the fewer than 100 really serious dangerous people should be kept safely from society, but to lump all the criminals in that category is just wrong.
    I worry that you may be involved with this with the right intentions but “mislead” by those with another agenda. Good luck and thanks for fronting up.

  10. Lizzy 10

    There are not fewer than 100 really seriously dangerous offenders. Ask womens refuge how many severe bashers they’re dealing with repeatedly. Check how many mad bads are committed under the mental health and crimes act to forensic words exactly because they represent a severe danger. How many murderers are incarcerated presently – the greatest predictor of future violence is past violence.
    A couple of forensic wards in each main centre nearly tally 100. I’ve been case manager for at least 100 dangerous prior killers and I’m just one person. One to four % of the population are sociopaths with raised likelihood of being serious dangers. There are more than 100 criminal gang members in NZ and recruitment procedures ensurethese persons have capability to violence. And then we have tens of thousands of repeat drunk drivers who pose 100x more risk than jo blow of killing you or even occasionally a whole family suicide bomber style.
    Your sums aren’t good. Prisons mediate and mitigate risk exposure to dangerous persons who are best seen behind bars and not heard for the maximal possible time. SST is not for general imprisonment – it wants the prisons to discharge petty bed cloggers and reassign their holiday camp flats to those fit for institutionalisation. In the 1960s Manson said please I don’t want to go back out in that crazy world. He knew his best niche was inside – pity for a dozen odd victims that the liberals could not stomach the reality. I know of persons clearly dangerous pushee outside of prison by do-gooders and parole boards who were totally against release who then deliberately went out and stabbed people as they felt it was their only ticket home.
    Every society since time immemorial has had people unfit for public release – the % remains quite constant, and the most humane thing is to keep them in a controlled environment. As I see it SST is just advocating for this prisoner right to protect us and them from themselves. Identify the threats, isolate the threats humanely – everyone lives happily ever after.
    Instead we have Graham Burtons and Wiliam Bells running round on P as Parole Boards love ’em.
    Parole Boards and sentencing Judges failing to uphold their social contract. I’d ask you how you’d feel if your kid or gran was murdered by a caught red handed rapist murderer on bail as he awaits trail. Such stories are the norm among SST members. No smoke without fire.

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Any society or organisation that seeks to manipulate political power must open up all it’s sources of funding for public review.

  12. ianmac 12

    Lizzie: There are so many points that you make that I can’t manage to raise points about them all. I was sure that you said you were a prison nurse then you are a case manager for more than 100 murderers. A bit confusing as it would define your credibility a bit. However I accept your sincerity.
    I still have concerns about your defining of very serious offenders and I think that there are less than 100 seriously terrible people in NZ who may be beyond help. Put them aside.
    It is probable that of the other 8,000 could be helped to be part of society, instead of being damned to a life of prison.
    You seem to want to abolish Parole. What happens when prisoners are released?
    What happens to the need of prisoners to learn to read or do maths?
    What happens to those who would respond to a drug/alcohol programme?
    What would happen if beginners were part of a restorative program?
    You see the message SST gives me is:
    Increase Sentencing for criminals.
    Avoid putting money skills into rehabitation.
    They are all losers.
    Anyone who says otherwise are mamby pamby wishy washy doggoders.
    The original question raised by the “Standard” was over SST funding. I don’t think you have addressed this.

  13. Lizzy 13

    Programming does not change risks pose by bona fide sociopaths who are far more than 100 of he 8000+ doing the jail rounds. There is no “cure” for sociopathy. SST is not against rehab for suitable people – it is for not pushing crap uphill with those not suited. SST arguments aren’t generalised “they’re all losers” ones. SST is against Rest justice as it is being run not as a concept.
    The policy is to abolish parole for the worst offenders but not to then release them wthout any follow up. A period of supervision after the sentence is what is proposed. Complicated legally but that’s the idea. Do the time – none of this make believe sentencing in saying in fromnt of victims and the Press the killer gets 10 years then slyly renegging by bringing up parole in say 5, then forcing vics who don’t agree, likely with rational cause, to attend traumatising parole hearings every few months for the next 5 years. That is pure deception and corruption. If Judges lie about sentences to sociopaths this just enhances their oerception the system isn’t serious and can be manipulated. Certainty of firm limits is a basic requirement for behaviour modification. We don’t need this “hey there’s a law you get a serious sentence but hey we’re only joking to keep up appearances”. Get real.

    Back to the funding issue – yes I agree it should be revealed but why would you do that just for prurient interests of clear opponents, when the normal process is to do it via charity registration. Also I thought all workers were voluntary but smewhere here its claimd GM is salaried. Registration is a matter SST is attempting – they’d not do this if desperate to hide interests in the long term. The Q vaguely remains of why not just fully disclose now regardless. Or is there stalling going on for a reason other than a sane wish not to give ammo to enemies hmmm? Most intriguing.

    • aj 13.1

      Re funding. It a simple matter of if there is nothing to hide, then reveal it.
      Anything short of full disclosure inevitabley leads to the conclusion there is something to hide.

  14. Rex Widerstrom 14

    If I get time later today I’ll make some more substantive comments (well done The Standard for re-raising the question).

    In the meantime I’ll just point out that it’s not just the SSTpotentially being bought out. A coterie of kaumatua couldn’t wait to get their noses in G4S’s trough… including none other than Tuku Morgan, who says it’s all about “what’s best for Maori”.

    Well one Maori, anyway. Guess his underwear drawer needs replenishing.

  15. Jared 15

    So theres no proof that the SST is backed by GEO Group, you just think it might? Conclusive huh?
    I remember not so long ago alleging SAM CASH was one of Len Brown’s campaign team only to be threatened with being banned from this website. Isn’t it ironic that Draco T Bastard comes out with “Any society or organisation that seeks to manipulate political power must open up all it’s sources of funding for public review.” yet The Standard won’t even make one of its authors admit they are part of Len Brown’s campaign team?

    [lprent: We don’t make anyone declare who they are in real life. That includes authors and commentators. You can read their opinions and decide if they make sense or not. The only time we get interested in who people are in real life is if they claim to be someone and we want to ensure that they aren’t trying to do an identity theft.

    We’re also quite clear about where our minuscule sources of funding are and have always done so – it is in the about and a number of posts on the subject. Just for your benefit and to make sure you can’t claim ignorance, I’ll detail them again.

    Currently this site costs about $140 per month to run after rising from $100 per month a couple of months ago. Over the years it has been as high as $150/month and as low as nothing apart from time on my systems.

    Over the last 2 and half years, the costs have been paid for by me with some donations recently from the donate button by individuals helping out. Over the last 8 months donations in the range of $25 – $100 have managed to pay for the majority of the costs (thanks to those who contribute). Consequently we are not beholden to anyone.

    The increasing traffic is pushing our costs up which is why we’re moving to a trust arrangement so we can get a bank account rather than just having a paypal account for paying for the server (and donations). The new server going online this weekend will shift our costs to $240 per month, which is why we now have advertising to help pay for it. However we’re perfectly capable of dropping back to funding it from donations from readers and contributions by authors if we have to.

    But of course we don’t run around the country to every available media forum and doing victim exposure for the media, so our costs are minimal. The cost structure for SST looks to be on a completely different order to what we have, so authors here have been asking who finances them. It is a legitimate question because of the obscurity with which the SST holds over their finances. ]

    • Armchair Critic 15.1

      Go and have your cry somewhere else.
      You turned up with stuff you can’t back up and got called on it. My recollection is that all you did on SC’s post was attack the author; you completely failed to address the subject of the post.
      Now you suggest that, based on a comment by someone who is not anything to do with the site (AFAIK DtB is not an author here and has nothing to do with running the site), a privately run website should be run to the same level of accountability as a lobby group. FFS, what next? Should friends who turn up at the pub to discuss politics be forced to bring their pay slips and tax returns?
      Can you not spot the difference between The Standard and SST?

      • Jared 15.1.1

        Come off it Armchair! I called the author on the fact that they are scaremongering by insinuating the SST are backed by the GEO Group without any discernible and qualified evidence. If you want to allege something, at least have evidence.
        Both this Author and My point was that if you are pushing a political message you should disclose your backers/interests. In the case of Sam Cash the last 18 posts have been about criticising John Banks and C&R. Now, either he has a hard on for Len Brown, or he has forgotten that there are other players in the mayoral race, but it would seem (and I have it on good authority) that he is working for Len Brown on his campaign. 18 out of 25 posts about John Banks and the regularity of the posts (1 year gap between last posts and the campaign against John Banks) would indicate otherwise.

        But let me reiterate. The questions asked by the posts author question who is behind the SST and its campaign, and so is mine. Why the author on here is allowed to question who is behind the SST and I am not allowed to question who is behind Sam Cash is beyond me. It smacks of hypocrisy and a hidden agenda. If you want one side to be transparent, be transparent yourself.

        • Armchair Critic 15.1.1.1

          “Why the author on here is allowed to question who is behind the SST and I am not allowed to question who is behind Sam Cash is beyond me.”
          Wild stab in the dark – it’s because you are not an author here. Perhaps you should start your own blog.
          I still don’t get why you care who Sam Cash is. Your obsession seems to verge on unhealthy. Maybe he does work for Len Brown, maybe he doesn’t, I have no idea. Either way, John Banks would not make a good mayor of Auckland.

          • Jared 15.1.1.1.1

            What does it matter if im an author on here or not. Authenticity is not determined on author rights, and never should be. If that was the case the herald could print any thing they like with the defence that the critics weren’t an author, thus they had no right.

            My obsession is one of truth. Sam Cash is clearly on a campaign to damage John Banks (which is ironic considering banks voters are hardly likely to visit the standard) yet he won’t reveal his name ([guess deleted — r0b]) or who he works for (Len Brown).

            The point it is, regardless of if I am an author, if the OP is asking the SST to reveal who they work for, why is SAM CASH behind a veil? aren’t they both the same circumstances? and if one is questioning why they wont reveal their backing why can’t the other also without reprimand?

            [lprent: Adding you to the auto-moderation queue. You’ve been warned about speculating about authors before. I won’t bother banning you, it is going to be more fun to embellish your comments with notes when you walk near the line. Besides, usually your comments are actually readable opinions. ]

            • Pascal's bookie 15.1.1.1.1.1

              Jared, the SST is being asked if it is backed by private prison operators. This is because they back similar orgs in the US.

              You simply assert things about Sam Cash. SC writes about the ak race and clearly doesn’t like Banks. Big deal. Private citizens can do that.

              Now you claim to have it on ‘good authority’ that SC is linked to the Brown campaign. Fair enough. ‘What authority?’ is a fair question. A little disclosure on your own part might not go amiss if you want to be consistent.

              Also worth noting: There is a fundamental difference between private citizens working/volunteering for political candidates, and corporations backing supposedly grassroots lobby groups to effect policy. If you can’t see that difference, that says more about you than the Standard. The difference is there though, so your little hypocrisy distraction fails the first hurdle. Non-equivalence.

              • Jared

                My sources aren’t quotable. Needless to say, we mix in the same group and its a difficult secret to keep. Also, previously I asked if Sam Cash worked for Len Brown’s campaign only to be threatened with being banned, in this case its not just about “private citizens” its about a campaign and if the standard wants disclosure, then I want disclosure, it would seem only fair. In the case of Sam Cash he purports to be a private citizen who cares about the Supercity Mayoral race yet he seems to be a member of one of the candidates campaign.

                It does not matter if it is a corporation or in the case of Sam Cash, someone who holds themselves out as a private citizen but in reality is actually a member of Len Browns team, disclosure is universal. If you represent external parties, hold yourself out as such.

                • lprent

                  I don’t think that Sam has ever proported to be anything. He/she/it has been writing here for as long as The Standard has been running and I can’t remember even a comment by Sam that has ever given a statement about who they are in real life. Frankly I really don’t care anyway.

                  So your argument is with me and the policies of the site. I have a distinct aversion to people trying to guess who authors or commentators writing under a pseudonym are. Doesn’t matter if it is Sam or you, except that I tend to protect authors more (they’re more useful to me). We protect people who write under a pseudonym. The extent of my interest in who people are in real life is limited to figuring out if they are who they claim to be if and only if they are claiming to actually be a specific person – in other words identity theft. Apart from that I look for the banned trying to wok around the ban on a new identity

                  Take the opinion written here and argue for or against it, or leave it – I really don’t care much. Attempt to make assertions about who someone is when you have no evidence apart from simple suspicion and I’ll land on your arse wanting to tear it off and feed it to your lying face. That is just a variant of cyber-stalking. If I don’t know who someone is that is writing here with the evidence I have available, then you have no frigging possibility of being right by simple dumb guesswork.

                  Don’t whine about the house rules because there is f*ck all you can do about them. Just obey them, or leave voluntarily or I’ll ensure that you do leave permanently. It is a pretty simple choice. There is f*ck all you can do about the choices wither.

              • Armchair Critic

                “it would seem only fair”
                FFS – Please go and have your little cry elsewhere.
                The two situations are not equivalent and you seem to be deliberately ignoring the differences.
                As for your sources not being quotable – in saying this you are doing precisely what you are arguing against the authors here doing.
                How about you sort your contradictions out and come back with something (anything) solid, as proof of what you are saying.

        • lprent 15.1.1.2

          Half of my last 50 posts have been about climate change. Most of the other half have been about admin of this site. One I have an obvious interest in, the other is something that I have no conceivable real life interest in apart from a general interest in talking about it. In neither case do I have revenue interest in them – this site costs me.

          If you look at rocky, another in real life known author here, almost all of her posts are about animal welfare. She does this despite never being in a job connected with animal welfare.

          Now I realize that some people like yourself on the political right have a problem with people doing things just because they’re interested in them, but it is almost the norm for those on the left. Trying to look for pecuniary motives may work for some people on the right, but it is usually a pointless exercise for most of those on the left.

          Trying to ‘prove’ something by the types of posts (or comments) that people write around here is the mark of a someone trying hard to make the grade of idiot.

  16. Daveosaurus 16

    For me, the SST lost any credibility they may have once had when they spoke out in support of a violent criminal who hunted down and killed a defenceless teenager.

    • ianmac 16.1

      I think that Lizzy might justify that by saying Mr McVicar was just trying to focus attention on an issue. He surely wouldn’t be suggesting that to kill a lad for graffitti was OK? Not really!

    • Didn’t the SST start as a support group for a bloke threatening violence? If I recall accurately (and please correct me if I’ve got this wrong) the bloke was arrested for trying to deal to someone convicted of some other offence and the SST was a cheer squad for his lawbreaking.

      I guess the real problem is in the name. They claim to be supporting casualties of crime, but their only solution is to lengthen jail terms which obviously does nothing for the victims. Sorry, vics. Really must get used to trivialising the sufferers of crime as the SST’s supporters do.

  17. prism 17

    captcha heat – as in more heat than light I guess. Apart from the huge cost of keeping these men, and women, locked up there is the brutalising effect on those who might have some sense and sensibility still that could be worked on. Breaking the cycle programs would be good to bring back. Cut the ties to gangs for a start where possible.

    Get a short spell in gaol. If there is a willingness to work at improvement, a different mindset give those people a suspended sentence. Keep the bad repeat ones in, the rest of the community don’t want to be rats in a giant laboratory mingling with people who the system hopes will not offend egregiously again, but often do.

  18. Lizzy 18

    I took it a bit like the parent who says “tough bikkies” to a kid who hurts themself doing something they’d been told not to. It was a sentiment of “the moral of the story is don’t screw with others” rather than of “good job he’s dead/killed him”. But of course people will seek to interpret the comments made to fit with their prejudices. Me and you. Only Garth really knows what he may have been thinking and suggesting. Why liberals rush to make negative judgements or to cry racism says more about how they perceive the way the wrd works perhaps – than the merits of the situation. SST has string Maori representation and these are a politically astute race so are a driving force within. Oh of course – they are so colonised they fail to recognise a racist leader. yeah right!

  19. millsy 19

    Hey Lizzy,

    So you think that a fence is worth more than somone’s life then?

    Would you kill someone who was tagging your fence? Be honest now.

    Personally I think the SST are intolerant rednecks, hell bent on throwing people in jail (especially those who are poor and brown), for offences as trivial is littering. And anyone who are associated and supportive with them are racist, homophobic, and intolerant bigots (I wonder if Garth McVicar wants poor people sterilised and homosexualty recriminalised.)

  20. Lizzy 20

    The definition of bigot to me is someone who judges a group they do not know. Enjoy your hate speech ranty, because no such bile comes from your average SST supporter. Oh and stop projecting, I didn’t say I think taggers should die – perhaps that “suspicion” says more about you. Do you think bad things ought happen to SST people maybe?

    • millsy 20.1

      But you more or less implied that you supported a tagger getting murdered in cold blood.

      I have traweled thru press releases from the SST and the message I get is more or less that civil liberties should be suspended, police be given the right to torture offenders, young people be beaten on a regular basis, people should be killed if they step out of line, the poor should be made to live on the street, and brown people by banged up in prison for the slighest offfence. Also, the only family worth having is the two parent family, and all solo mother are whores who breed criminals for as living.

      The SST is so full of white middle class bigotry that it would put the KKK to shame.

      Your a nasty person for associating with them.

      • millsy 20.1.1

        Plus I think McVicar is on record for linking the increase peadophilia and child sexual abuse to the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

  21. Lizzy 21

    Oh puhleeze, if you have truly seen such a character shining through press releases that does not speak to general member beliefs – 10,000 members don’t write the releases, maybe on or two do. If you’re making accusations like that about homophobia you’d better be prepared to bak it up with a quote, because I recall that one member is the partner of a gay guy that was murdered. So it aint adding up sunshine. I do understand, oh yeah, I do, as to how the far left needs a bogeyman to project it’s shadow onto. And is putting McVicar to good use.

    A friend of mine Ingrid Reidel grew up in Nazi Germany which inspired her PhD in myth and Jungian psychology – she has taught me it is a dangerous path you follow when you start demonising and separating yourselves from others by making “badness” judgements. Which is what you do to Garth and just did to me by criticising my association with SST. I doubt you understand even the basics of liberalism versus fascism, when you seek to criticise freedom of association. It is far better to debate arguments on merit and perhaps decide one view is more or less informed or foolish than another, than to ascribe bad character. Ascribing bad character leads to genocide.

    Prescott Bush had poor character in that he funded the Nazi machine, same with Ford who sent Hitler birthday cards and provided vehicles to move the people to concentration camps, same with the US presidents who re-employed 2000 Nazi war criminals, including the scientists that got them on the moon as a good vantage point for nuking those below. I’d appreciate if you would reassign me out of these peoples category. My record so far is of saving a few dozen lives (due to my occupation). Of course if you’d rather I don’t save yours should we meet…

    Economic conditions were worse early last century – 3 or so murders yearly in the 1950’s – a 3000 percent increase today. Are you so dense you do not see that it is the Nanny state and removal of personal responsibilities and community values that has produced this? The human genes didn’t just suddenly sprout a murder chromosone. Think about it, then join the collective responsibility to make changes. C’mon hand ove a $20 mmbership fee then once you get newsletter and suchlike you just may be qualified to speak on the subject of sensible sentencing.

    • millsy 21.1

      So, Lizzy, which of these things do you attribute to the rising of crime:

      1) Universal healthcare – so people get the treatment they need when they are sick regardless of income
      2) Welfare – so people who arent lucky enough to land on their feet get a roof over their head and food in their belly – so you want people on the street?
      3) High mininum wages – god forbid that the money they get from their job should be enough to pay their rent
      4) Decent working conditions – because working 12 hours in a sweatshop would stop people from committing crime would it?
      5) Universal Education
      6) the right to join a trade union
      7) no fault accident insurance
      8) state houseing
      9) civil liberties
      10) the right of children not to be hit

    • millsy 21.2

      If ‘Community Values’ means the following:

      1) forcing women to stay in unhappy marriages
      2) dictating to women what they can do with their own body
      3) thrashing a child with a coathanger until they bleed
      4) single mother having to live in their cars with their children
      5) giving police the power to torture
      6) condoning homophobic bullying
      7) killing young Maori boys for tagging a fence – they did that in Alabama in the 20’s didnt they?

      Then you can stick it where the sun dont shine Lizzy.

      • millsy 21.2.1

        Im guessing you also share McVicar’s views on prison violence and rape. 100% permissive.

        The burgular who had his eyes gouged out by his cell mate and is now a sitting duck, or the young petty thief who get repeatedly raped by his cell mate would get no sympathy from you..

        • millsy 21.2.1.1

          Hey Lizzy where are you? Stringing up a tagger on a lamp post in Remuera I take it?

          A cross made of NZ wood burns nicely doesnt it?

    • NickS 21.3

      Economic conditions were worse early last century 3 or so murders yearly in the 1950’s a 3000 percent increase today.

      Except you’re not controlling for population, in which the actual numbers of murder should be murders per 1000 head of population per year you statistically illiterate fool, nor have you provided a source for this claim,. Perhaps Statistics NZ, instead of Sensible Sentencing propaganda would be an intelligent place to start?

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