web analytics

Truly sensible sentencing

Written By: - Date published: 3:17 pm, January 12th, 2009 - 16 comments
Categories: crime - Tags: , ,

“I’m not one for ideological stances; I support what works”, said John Key  in a speech to the Salvation Army in early 2007. Well now the challenge is on.

Steve posted earlier today calling for a “truce on the sentencing bidding war”, echoing the recent sentiment of Kim Workman, director of the Rethinking Crime and Punishment project. Mr Workman was responding to Judith Collins’ typically hard line view on punitive criminal “justice” in saying:

…it was understandable that the new Government wanted to make good on its law and order promises in the first 90 days of office.

But the growing view among public servants, the judiciary, and criminal justice advisers and providers, was that it was now time to “get smart” rather than “get tough”.

So will Key really “support what works” as he’s claimed so many times, or merely pander to the likes of Collins and McVicar?

16 comments on “Truly sensible sentencing ”

  1. Time has come to protect the public.

    IMHO that is smart thinking.

    Time has come to hold parole boards responsible.

  2. Rex Widerstrom 2

    The Parole Board does its best… I’m sure they don’t sit there going “clearly this bloke is gonna murder someone if we let him out, but to hell with it, let’s do it anyway”. Trouble is, they’re denied important information that would help them reach a decision… just the way juries often are.

    To cite but one example, as dad4justice has said elsewhere, and I’m in full agreement, prison officers are the ones who spend most time with an inmate when the latter’s guard is down and they’re acting ‘naturally’. But they’re given no input into the parole process. Instead some dopey prison administrator – who could barely recognise the prisoner, usually – writes a report and a psychologist forms an impression through observation over a fraction of the time prison officers do, and with the prisoner on their best behaviour.

    We’ve all heard of the cases where a psychopath has been released because they’ve fooled the board, but the corollary is that many people serve longer sentences than is necessary because the board are too scared of making an error based on the information they have.

    So, for instance, I’m working on the case of a girl whom the Court of Appeal said should be released last August. However that means she still has to make parole. But since one person in the prison hierarchy has said she should do a course on alcohol – a course he had nearly three years to put her on but didn’t; a course for which the waiting list is ridiculously long because not enough places are funded; a course which is available on the outside and could be made a condition of parole – she’s still locked up five months later.

    The time has come to overhaul parole, yes. But like sentencing, let’s approach it from the perspective of what works best for the wider community and not from the point of view of punishing someone (in this case the Parole Board) for the system’s failures.

    And yes, a_y_b, this will be a true test of Key’s character. Let’s see if he has a spine.

  3. QoT 3

    Darn right, Brett. Longer prison sentences for parole board members! And jurors! And defence counsel! Heck, let’s imprison the entire judicial system while we’re at it.

  4. Peter Burns 4

    That’s not the answer silly QoT, but as Justice John Hansen said at a Otago Uni Conference – “the administration of justice needs a radical rethink” is totally appropriate for this day and age in New Zealand.

  5. Peter Burns 5

    Moderation now? What for?? This will be interesting???

    [lprent: You jumped back on one of the Internet ranges targeting a known pain (I wonder who that was) 😈 ]

  6. Billy 6

    I doubt you will find anyone arguing get less smart. Only gap I am seeing here is: what is the smart alternative these geniuses are proposing?

  7. What does “get smart’ specifically mean in realtion to sentencing?

  8. @ work 8

    Billy
    I doubt you will find anyone arguing get less smart.

    Thats basically what the sensible sentancing trust are arguing. They advocate ignoring all the research on the topic as it is done by ivory tower liberals, and that we need to get back too the good old days, and use “common sense” and populisim to decide policies on crime. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with democracy, I just wouldn’t fly on a plane built using it.

  9. Whero 9

    National will do what’s good for business – and what’s good for business is transferring the responsibilities of the State to the private sector and allowing businessmen to lock up our citizens and then charge – just another of the many examples of how private enterprise specialises in profiting from the misery of others.

    Expect longer sentences and more jails.

  10. Rex Widerstrom 10

    Whero:

    Read any of my comments on this issue and you’ll see I’m no fan of the present system or the SST. I also acknowledge that operators of private prisons such as Wackenhutt are abominable – indeed some of their practises should see them on the other side of the razor wire.

    OTOH, until a couple of years ago a private prison in WA used to be run by AIMS and it too was a mess. The government was, however, able to respond to that situation by cancelling their contract and issuing it to Serco. That same prison is now one of the best in the country (and quite possibly the world), has one of the best atmospheres inside – and hence has a queue of prisoners seeking to be transferred there from state-run prisons – and, because it’s paid on a number of results including reduced recidivism by prisoners released from it, has been extremely successful in reducing repeat offending, thus protecting the community. This latter measure is, in fact, something Serco apparently offers to include in all its prison contracts.

    It’s not a matter of rejecting private prisons out of hand, it’s a matter of choosing the right company to run them, and being intelligent about what goals you set them and how you pay them.

    Billy:

    A comprehensive answer to your question would require more space than a comment should take. Input from prison officers (who observe the prisoner in their unguarded moments and over a lengthy period, rather than on their best behaviour) is but one obvious low-cost idea that’s not taken up. Other things, such as a pro-active investigation of the support available to the prisoner when and if they’re released, rather than just taking the wordof them and their supporters, would be another, but costly, option. There’s much more… hopefully The Standard will keep debating this whole issue.

  11. mike 11

    Im a simple bloke and Ive always sort of felt that if a thief is in prison then he cant be on the street breaking into houses – so in this respect prison works – its stop him theiving.

    Prison would be much less populated if it was a place where no one ever wanted to return to….

    so get rid of the TV,s and other forms of entertainment. Make the food seriously uninteresting (but still good for ones health), and remove visiting all together, etc, etc.

    Then the prison population would really drop

  12. Mr Magoo 12

    Im a simple bloke and Ive always sort of felt…

    I am sorry, do you have a reference for that study?

    Oh, wait….

  13. schrodigerscat 13

    I was impressed to watch Criminal Justice on TV1 Monday, it goes some way to show that TV … is not going to make being in there ok.

    There are the people you are in there with, the almost complete lack of control over your life that you have, the disconnection with your normal life outside.

    This shown so far in the context of remand, where conviction has not occurred.

    It is a pretty sad indictment of our society if you think people want to return to prison.

  14. Matthew Pilott 14

    mike, you are indeed simple if you think “Prison would be much less populated if it was a place where no one ever wanted to return to “. Prisioners go back because they are unreformed, meaning they have not changed their criminal ways despite being caught and punished in the past.

    What you’re suggesting is that if prison was really bad, people would not reoffend. There’s very little to back this theory up (the very use of the death penalty being a fairly stark reminder of this point). What those who study this sort of thing are saying is that if we rehabilitate prisoners (drug and alcohol, anger management, employment, education or craft/apprenticeship-type experience), they won’t go back, not because they are scared of prison, but because they don’t wanna commit crime no more.

    An added benefit of the latter is that there will be less crime and fewer criminals, not the same level of crime with the same number of criminals simply more desperate to avoid being caught.

    I just very much doubt that your gulags will make anyone the slightest bit safer.

  15. Rex Widerstrom 15

    mike suggests:

    …remove visiting all together, etc, etc.

    Yes, because those damned elderly parents who’ve perhaps struggled all their lives to turn their child away from crime, the women (and a few men) struggling on their own now their partner is in prison, the kids that wonder why dad (or occasionally mum) isn’t with them any more… they’re the ones that really deserve to be punished, right?

    …if a thief is in prison then he cant be on the street breaking into houses…

    Because of course everyone who’s ever stolen anything is going to keep on doing so ad infinitum even if we were to improve his life so he had enough money and something to work for and strive towards…

    schrodigerscat notes:

    This shown so far in the context of remand, where conviction has not occurred.

    Oh come on, we’ll have none of this namby-pamby “innocent till proven guilty” bullshit thank you. I’m sure if mike is wrongfully arrested and imprisoned indefinitely whilst waiting for a crowded court calendar to find time for some underpaid, barely competent legal aid alwyer to plead his case he’ll be only too happy to consort with murderers and rapists, eat s**t food, not see his family and of course will turn down the chance to watch TV.

    Because it’s a well known fact (because Mr McVicar says so) that everyone in our prisons is guilty… that’s why “simple blokes” feel okay about treating them like something less than human.

    And hey, at least while mike’s inside his house will be perfectly safe because all those damned thieves will be locked up on indefinite detention in there with him, so every cloud has a silver lining and that…

  16. schrodigerscat 16

    Should really put a link in here
    More sense than McVicar and co.

    Yes Rex some good points for simple folk to consider.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Government takes new direction with policy refocus
    Work on the TVNZ/RNZ public media entity to stop; Radio NZ and NZ on Air to receive additional funding Social insurance scheme will not proceed this term The Human Rights (Incitement on Ground of Religious Belief) Amendment Bill to be withdrawn and not progressed this term. The matter to be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • $5 million support package for flood affected Auckland businesses
    The Government is providing a $5 million package of emergency support to help businesses significantly affected by the recent flooding in Auckland. This includes: $3 million for flood recovery payments to help significantly affected businesses $1 million for mental wellbeing support through a boost to the First Steps programme $1 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Temporary Accommodation Service activated to help flood affected Aucklanders
    The Government’s Temporary Accommodation Service (TAS) has been activated to support people displaced by the severe flooding and landslips in the Auckland region, Housing Minister Megan Woods says.  “TAS is now accepting registrations for people who cannot return to their homes and need assistance finding temporary accommodation.  The team will work ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Prime Ministers’ meeting reaffirms close trans-Tasman relationship
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese today held their first bilateral meeting in Canberra. It was Chris Hipkins’ first overseas visit since he took office, reflecting the close relationship between New Zealand and Australia. “New Zealand has no closer partner than Australia. I was pleased to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Immediate humanitarian support to Türkiye and Syria following earthquakes
    New Zealand will immediately provide humanitarian support to those affected by the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. “Aotearoa New Zealand is deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by these earthquakes. Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones affected,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Pākinga Pā site to be gifted back to local hapū
    An historic Northland pā site with links to Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika is to be handed back to iwi, after collaboration by government, private landowners and local hapū. “It is fitting that the ceremony for the return of the Pākinga Pā site is during Waitangi weekend,” said Regional Development Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New initiatives to unlock Māori science and research resources
    The Government is investing in a suite of initiatives to unlock Māori and Pacific resources, talent and knowledge across the science and research sector, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. Two new funds – He tipu ka hua and He aka ka toro – set to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Advancing our relationship in India
    Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta departs for India tomorrow as she continues to reconnect Aotearoa New Zealand to the world.  The visit will begin in New Delhi where the Foreign Minister will meet with the Vice President Hon Jagdeep Dhankar and her Indian Government counterparts, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government Northland housing investment to spark transformational change
    Over $10 million infrastructure funding to unlock housing in Whangārei The purchase of a 3.279 hectare site in Kerikeri to enable 56 new homes Northland becomes eligible for $100 million scheme for affordable rentals Multiple Northland communities will benefit from multiple Government housing investments, delivering thousands of new homes for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government investment safeguards Waitangi Treaty Grounds
    The Government is supporting one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant historic sites, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, as it continues to recover from the impacts of COVID-19. “The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are a taonga that we should protect and look after. This additional support will mean people can continue to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Battle of Ohaeawai remembered
    A memorial event at a key battle site in the New Zealand land wars is an important event to mark the progress in relations between Māori and the Crown as we head towards Waitangi Day, Minister for Te Arawhiti Kelvin Davis said. The Battle of Ohaeawai in June 1845 saw ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • More Police deployed to the frontline
    More Police officers are being deployed to the frontline with the graduation of 54 new constables from the Royal New Zealand Police College today. The graduation ceremony for Recruit Wing 362 at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua was the first official event for Stuart Nash since his reappointment as Police ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Further support for upper North Island regions hit by significant weather
    The Government is unlocking an additional $700,000 in support for regions that have been badly hit by the recent flooding and storm damage in the upper North Island. “We’re supporting the response and recovery of Auckland, Waikato, Coromandel, Northland, and Bay of Plenty regions, through activating Enhanced Taskforce Green to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • The Princess Royal to visit New Zealand
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has welcomed the announcement that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, will visit New Zealand this month. “Princess Anne is travelling to Aotearoa at the request of the NZ Army’s Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals, of which she is Colonel in Chief, to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government and horticulture sector target $12b in exports by 2035
    A new Government and industry strategy launched today has its sights on growing the value of New Zealand’s horticultural production to $12 billion by 2035, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said. “Our food and fibre exports are vital to New Zealand’s economic security. We’re focussed on long-term strategies that build on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Cost of living support extended for families and businesses
    25 cents per litre petrol excise duty cut extended to 30 June 2023 – reducing an average 60 litre tank of petrol by $17.25 Road User Charge discount will be re-introduced and continue through until 30 June Half price public transport fares extended to the end of June 2023 saving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • More Kiwis in work as rising wages match inflation
    The strong economy has attracted more people into the workforce, with a record number of New Zealanders in paid work and wages rising to help with cost of living pressures. “The Government’s economic plan is delivering on more better-paid jobs, growing wages and creating more opportunities for more New Zealanders,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government boosts fund for Auckland flooding
    The Government is providing a further $1 million to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland following flooding, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty announced today. “Cabinet today agreed that, given the severity of the event, a further $1 million contribution be made. Cabinet wishes to be proactive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Cabinet focused on bread and butter issues
    The new Cabinet will be focused on core bread and butter issues like the cost of living, education, health, housing and keeping communities and businesses safe, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has announced. “We need a greater focus on what’s in front of New Zealanders right now. The new Cabinet line ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister to meet with PM Albanese
    Prime Minister Chris Hipkins will travel to Canberra next week for an in person meeting with Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese. “The trans-Tasman relationship is New Zealand’s closest and most important, and it was crucial to me that my first overseas trip as Prime Minister was to Australia,” Chris Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government makes first payment to Auckland Flooding fund
    The Government is providing establishment funding of $100,000 to the Mayoral Relief Fund to help communities in Auckland following flooding, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty announced. “We moved quickly to make available this funding to support Aucklanders while the full extent of the damage is being assessed,” Kieran McAnulty ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government steps up to assist Auckland during flooding
    As the Mayor of Auckland has announced a state of emergency, the Government, through NEMA, is able to step up support for those affected by flooding in Auckland. “I’d urge people to follow the advice of authorities and check Auckland Emergency Management for the latest information. As always, the Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Poroporoaki: Titewhai Te Huia Hinewhare Harawira
    Ka papā te whatitiri, Hikohiko ana te uira, wāhi rua mai ana rā runga mai o Huruiki maunga Kua hinga te māreikura o te Nota, a Titewhai Harawira Nā reira, e te kahurangi, takoto, e moe Ka mōwai koa a Whakapara, kua uhia te Tai Tokerau e te kapua pōuri ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Enhanced Task Force Green Approved following Cyclone Hale
    Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development and Employment, has activated Enhanced Taskforce Green (ETFG) in response to flooding and damaged caused by Cyclone Hale in the Tairāwhiti region. Up to $500,000 will be made available to employ job seekers to support the clean-up. We are still investigating whether other parts ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago