Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Perception and reality in the criminal justice system

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  • Raymond A Francis,

    Rather than looking at what is wrong with the NZ system (and there is plenty) a good look and some serious time spent discussing the Finnish set up might be helpful in breaking the present cycle of locking up more and more of our citizens

    I would suggest that diversion has lowered present jail numbers or rather slowed it as in my experience, criminals or rather people who break laws (including ones they don't agree with) are slow learners, they just don't see the connection with them breaking the laws and the consequences of that behaviour
    Mr Bryant being a classic case, he knew very well what would happen if he broke the law but he continued to deal
    The law may be stupid but breaking it is not a good way to get it changed unless maybe you can get a big section of the community to break it, proving that the "law is an ass" but I doubt if that is going to work with dealing in drugs.
    As pointed out above if you want to do that buy a pub or a dairy

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 535 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Russell Brown,

    This makes one doubt his actual commitment to effective solutions.

    As opposed to culture war pig farming, methinks?

    It was refreshing however to hear Bill English talk about the economic advantages of long term prevention over prisons , its a start.

    And what does it mean when even ACT's Heather Roy is starting to question the Throw Away The Key orthodoxy?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4161 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    If I can just throw a plug in here - next week's Hindsight (TVNZ 7, Tuesday, 9.30pm) is on the topic of prisons too, and has interviews with both Garth & Kim, as well some really poignant clips - there's one from the 1960s where Mt Eden is about to be closed down, Paremoremo is about to be opened, there'll never be double bunking there, D-block is the way of the future, and in 50 years time we'll be able to close all the prisons down because we won't need them!

    After all I'd read I was still kinda surprised to find that Garth's answer was to lock more people up than we currently are.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1128 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Lyndon – I have asked for a copy of this letter but my understanding is that the PM did not have Judge Becroft’s permission to table that letter.
    It intrigues me because Judge Becroft has not been a supporter of boot camps in the past.

    I was at a lecture he gave a couple of weeks before that letter where he indicated that he didn't think they were very effective - quoted research showing that participants had a 90% recidivism rate (I presume that's international research).

    And then after the lecture he went out and bought Kronic. Down with the kids apparently.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6162 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Damian Christie,

    After all I'd read

    There's your difference :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16495 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    So pending further info I'll maintain my suspicion that in Becroft's letter any 'success' in the Fresh Start was administrative (apart from anything [or everything] else they haven't been going that long) and when asked if they could be expanded he said, "that is indeed possible".

    And he also mentioned some other programmes that really are working.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1095 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Prisoners may be considered for parole after serving just 14 days

    A great read thank you Stephen. (Have saved it for another day.)
    I read somewhere else that the MSM in Finland were enlisted to stop using crime reporting as front page features. I guess the damage done to public perceptions by such over-reporting is universal. McVicar thrives on it.
    And I seem to remember reading somewhere, that after being in prison for about 28 days the deterrent effect wears off, and inmates start adjusting, or not, to the institutionalisation.

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Richard Aston,

    It was refreshing however to hear Bill English talk about the economic advantages of long term prevention over prisons

    Now if they could get Goff to follow suit..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16495 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    While I applaud the fact that SST are (supposedly) in the business of protecting victims' rights, it's a shame their policy stances will just create more and more victims to protect. It's not meant to be a "growth industry" folks.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1721 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Lyndon Hood,

    So pending further info I’ll maintain my suspicion that in Becroft’s letter any ‘success’ in the Fresh Start was administrative (apart from anything [or everything] else they haven’t been going that long) and when asked if they could be expanded he said, “that is indeed possible”.

    And he also mentioned some other programmes that really are working.

    Fresh Start is mainly about the "other programmes" the boot camps are a very minor part of the Fresh Start programme. The thrust is much more towards parenting programmes, drug and alcohol programmes, mentoring, supervision etc
    ie Working with youth offenders to effect change rather than punishing them. I have seen a good part of it and can see much worth in the approach.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 474 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Sacha,

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

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 972 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 • 2358 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 • 1095 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 • 155 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 • 1095 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 • 1890 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 • 366 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 • 1095 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 • 155 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 • 86 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 • 4688 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 • 18715 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 • 1491 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 • 6022 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

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