Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Perception and reality in the criminal justice system

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  • Kracklite, in reply to Sacha,

    Goff saying "Me too!"? Nothing more certain!

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 981 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Richard Aston,

    oh yes everyone seems to forget they will come out one day

    Yeah, this. I really can't see why it isn't a no-brainer. Do we want functioning humans involved as part of society, or highly-damaged individuals with a huge grudge against The Man, and little to lose?

    Erwin James's two books make interesting reading on this point. He was, to put it mildly, not a very pleasant person when he went in for a 14-year stretch. It ook him a long time - ten years or so - of that sentence, before he was even able to start the process of personal rehabilitation - to put himself in the right mental space to build something useful.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    And of course, via the Goldacre link I think I can thank this forum for on proper trails for policy, Reoffending rates higher after short jail terms, study finds.

    The first authoritative analysis of the effectiveness of different sentences shows that longer prison sentences of two to four years – which allow time to tackle offending behaviour – are more effective than jail terms of under 12 months, during which inmates are simply warehoused.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1096 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom,

    Gak... ironically, struggling to prepare for a Supreme Court hearing seeking to overturn the WA Criminal Property Confiscation Act ("an Act that lacks coherence and, for that reason, is drafted unsatisfactorily"- High Court of Australia. "An Act we have no present intention of reviewing" - Government of WA) and so much I want to say.

    I will interject the comment, however, that the new paradigm for dealing with statistics , peer-reviewed research etc amongst politicians (especially my personal favourite, the Attorney General of WA) is to blithely state "I don't accept that" leaving the profferer of said data slack-jawed in amazement at the sheer chutzpah and rendering moot any and all research that doesn't accord with the government's view.

    As for sentencing effectiveness, well... sending someone to jail for 6 or 7 years and taking their home, indisputably bought with legitimate income leaving their school-age children with no home and them, when they're finally released, also homeless isn't exactly, err, top-notch rehabilitation.

    Must go, affidavits to file...

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    however, that the new paradigm for dealing with statistics , peer-reviewed research etc amongst politicians (especially my personal favourite, the Attorney General of WA) is to blithely state “I don’t accept that”

    Here was me thinking John Key had come up with that by himself.

    Further link: Rotorua Perceptions of Safety Survey. I think perceptions actually can be a problem - for people's wellbeing or economic activity - but I have the idea the problems and the solutions don't tend to have much to do with actual crime.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1096 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Lyndon Hood,

    Here was me thinking John Key had come up with that by himself.

    That is grossly unfair. Gerry held his hand and supports him still.

    Just like John did for Don...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2208 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Lyndon, that article seems to go a long way to say nothing. People on short jail sentences are those who didn't meet the requirements for community service and such. Not only are they given less support in prison, they're fundamentally a different group to those on longer sentences who aren't divided into community service vs custodial.

    "[...] the data could not be used to reliably establish the impact of probation supervision and offender management programmes."

    All it might be showing is sentencing judges are about 8-10% accurate at picking the problem offenders when they have the option. It may as well be random.

    Since Nov 2006 • 488 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Yet “The matched samples were identical in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, type of offence and number of previous convictions so that the effectiveness of each kind of sentence could be compared for the first time.”

    So the study basically (as far as I can tell) assumed that, beyond those factors, intial risk vs sentence was random. That may or may not be a push, but those are the kind of factors (admittedly not a complete list of them) that NZ uses for our risk assessments.

    I appreciate the angle, but I’d be finding more about the study before making sweeping dismissals. And I honestly can’t think of a better to compare methods of punishment per se.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1096 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom,

    A suggestion to TVNZ7 readers: a show which brings the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General and/or the Minister of Corrections into a prison to answer questions from prisoners, prison officers and others who actually know what they're talking about.

    Unashamedly stolen from the BBC's Question Time, which put several pollies into Wormwood Scrubs to do just that.

    I'm going to try and get a similar exercise off the ground here... when I get time :-/

    If you decide to do it, a heads-up would be appreciated...

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Waugh, in reply to poffa,

    Oh I surely do hope so.... "Sir David" has such a nice ring to it. :o)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    Stirring Porridge...?

    Unashamedly stolen from the BBC’s Question Time, which put several pollies into Wormwood Scrubs to do just that.

    Wormwood scrubs always makes me think of bitter aromatic overalls - the medical equivalent of a hair-shirt!
    absinthe makes the heart grow fondue...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5169 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    A suggestion to TVNZ7 readers: a show which brings the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General and/or the Minister of Corrections into a prison to answer questions from prisoners, prison officers and others who actually know what they’re talking about.

    Interesting idea. You might still enjoy the show we did record last night -- Chief Judge Russell Johnson was particularly good value. Very thoughtful man.

    It's on at 9.05pm this evening and online shortly thereafter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    From Rex:

    I will interject the comment, however, that the new paradigm for dealing with statistics , peer-reviewed research etc amongst politicians (especially my personal favourite, the Attorney General of WA) is to blithely state "I don't accept that" leaving the profferer of said data slack-jawed in amazement at the sheer chutzpah and rendering moot any and all research that doesn't accord with the government's view.

    Well, Prof Gluckman is fighting the rear guard action to try and get some sensible policy based on evidence. I am absolutely certain it does not only mean science evidence. But throughout all Govt organisations.

    Watched Media 7 tonight and agree Russell, The Judge gave a good interview. The idea that victims may be getting more than the right share of the limelight came up and I have to say i have a suspicion that "the media" fuels the pack rage that post court case interviews on TV invoke. The 90 second bite has a lot to answer for.

    Followed immediately afterwards by the Court Report chatting about Bill Wilson. How the hell do you get such priceless info into TV1 and TV3?? Impossible.

    But, TV3 have no problem in screening the claptrap "Pseudo- doco" on the fear of cellphones and power lines last night. Fancy NZ on Air giving money for such "fact based" programmes.

    It comes back to a lack of bullshit detection throughout "the system" I am afraid.

    So, Please support the Gluck!!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1510 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Guess one doesn't benefit by having expert advice whilst trying to do ones job. Easier to not be a Switched on Gardener

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6356 posts Report Reply

  • vangam, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Easier to not be a Switched on Gardener

    Someone needs to write a book on that travesty - the 'inside' story.

    Rangiora • Since Jun 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You might still enjoy the show we did record last night – Chief Judge Russell Johnson was particularly good value.

    I did indeed, and as was David Lomas. There's a similar effort to what I understand his series to have been, on screen in Australia now - "On Trial". Anyone who knows proxies (and can thus bypass the geoblock) might want to go to the ABC's iview site and have a look.

    Judge Russell's comments echoed those of many other jurists, including recently retired WA Chief District Court Judge Antoinette Kennedy, who noted:

    Once you can have people more frightened of disorder than tyranny, it enables you to do almost anything you like so far as legislation is concerned. It's also cheap, you see it's very or it was until very recently very cheap and it doesn't require any leadership to say we're going to increase all penalties and we're going to lock everybody up longer...

    The problem, of course, is that the McVicar cheer squad will dismiss such sentiments as being those of out-of-touch elitists who have degrees ferchrissakes, and thus no idea of what's truly right or wrong. And lawyers, well... they're just rorting Legal Aid while waiting to be made a judge.

    More effective in changing perceptions is what David Lomas alluded to... introduce criminals (or those stereotyping suggests are criminals) to "ordinary" people, who very quickly find that the crims are very ordinary and often quite sympathetic and certainly not the red-in-tooth-and-claw monsters McVicar tells us are outside our windows.

    I have a friend who's a mild manner, bespectacled academic and a world authority on Restorative Justice. Bravely, he tells people he's a "convict criminologist" to make the point that not everyone who's been to prison is a monster, and nor do they all reoffend. Likewise I've had some wonderful encounters which have gone:

    Person: "All prisoners are scum, and they remain scum after their release".
    Me: "I've been a prisoner, actually".
    Person: *look of horrified confusion* "Errr well, except you, obviously".
    Me: "I was in on remand. Actually half the people in Perth's main prison are on remand, and the majority of them actually walk free when they finally get to court. So they're....?"
    Person: "Is that the time?! I'm late for... something..."

    Hence my enthusiasm for the Wormwood Scrubs idea, and anything else (like "On Trial") that shows crimes for the usually complex and quite nuanced events they are and accused, and convicted, people as being just as varied and multifaceted as the audience.

    Failing that, I'd like a debate with McVicar. Kim Workman is both erudite and admirable, but too bloody polite when the bullshit starts to flow!!

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    Failing that, I’d like a debate with McVicar. Kim Workman is both erudite and admirable, but too bloody polite when the bullshit starts to flow!!

    Better still, what about the Arthur Allan Thomases of this world, and anyone else who's suffered due to miscarriages of justice? On the other hand, it seems futile to debate with fundies, because they profit from a black-and-white world view. So maybe the best thing for it is to expose their hypocrisy in front of them.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4431 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to DeepRed,

    Peter Ellis, anybody?

    There are still gross injustices in our legal system-

    fundies?
    Only a black & white view of our world - and they dont actually even like it!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Islander,

    There are still gross injustices in our legal system-

    This confession was a turn up for the book

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 902 posts Report Reply

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