Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Very Worst

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  • Lyndon Hood,

    Coupla links:

    Some no doubt welcome but rather backhanded opposition from Chauvel:

    “Labour will not sign a blank cheque in support of the Ministers proposals until the legislation is allowed transparent, consultative debate.”

    And Imperator Fish for Easter Friday.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1096 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    I am wondering why Corrections has not applied for an extended supervision order for Stuart Murray Wilson. He would seem to be a prime candidate. It would allow for conditions to be imposed for up to 10 years as appropriate, all the way up to and including 24/7 monitoring - meaning people with him, as opposed to surveillance.

    ESOs do come with quite strong judicial safeguards - which may or may not be included with anything Collins pushes through under urgency..

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    It is a queer thing: when opposing party leaders agree, when lefties are on the same page asTreasury, when the numbers so clearly say we cannot keep doing what we are doing, the loudest and most numerous voices in the news still say we should do the same, only harder.

    Being "tough on crime" is such a vote-winner. It sounds so strong and active and simple. I wish more people could see what the reality was like: the backgrounds and circumstances of those who end up in prison, what prison life is like, and what happens to prisoners on their release.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3447 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    ESOs do come with quite strong judicial safeguards – which may or may not be included with anything Collins pushes through under urgency..

    One could be forgiven for thinking she's inclined to ignore an ESO as an option, so she can be seen to save the day with a new law.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18881 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Phil Lyth,

    I am wondering why Corrections has not applied for an extended supervision order for Stuart Murray Wilson

    fair question. anyone asked them?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16661 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    I am wondering why Corrections has not applied for an extended supervision order...

    I believe he would have been sentenced before the regime was in place, so they can't. The new orders have been argued to be intended to cover people in just that position.

    It's just occured to me that someone somewhere might have compared retrospective sentence changes and pre-emptive detention considering to how to do that. Odd that they went for the latter, considering the former has I think been done before.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1096 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Oh wait, I was thinking of preventative detention for the sentence-timing... Carry on.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1096 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    In today's Dom Post, Richard Long declares that he has a " soft spot for" Judith Collins....

    As Corrections Minister she dispensed tough love by authorising shared prison cells and brought in converted cargo containers as accomodation to solve the burgeoning prison numbers. She even earned approval for this in trendy, lefty suburban Nagio, where the daily homily on the cafe blackboard asked: "Why not two to a cell?"

    Wonderful. So Treasury is screaming that this doesn't work and we can't afford to keep doing it -- and for Richard it's all about his "soft spot". In the top of his head, presumably. Would an attempt at seriousness be possible at some point?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18881 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason,

    The sensible sentencing trust feeds on people's fears. We need to transform their fears of offenders into a fear of inadequate rehabilitation. Only then will really sensible, and affordable strategies be adopted for dealing with law breakers.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 189 posts Report Reply

  • Will de Cleene,

    NORML was fortunate to have Roger Brooking speak to our AGM. Onya putting him on Media 7. Flying Blind is a real eye opener.

    Raumati • Since Jul 2011 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Curran,

    I wonder if anyone has sat down with McVicar et al. and actually gone through the numbers that show that increasing the imprisonment rate doesn't have much effect on the crime rate.

    Not that I expect that it would change his mind (however be nice that would be). I would be nice justification for asking all media organisations to attribute his comments to "Garth McVicar of the Sensible we've seen the evidence and choose not to believe it Sentencing Trust.

    Possibly it's my background speaking, but I just don't get the whole idea behind trying to induce a moral panic (lock them all up and throw away the key styles) when the numbers just don't support it.

    Since May 2011 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    The faith-based rehabilitation services aren't working either it seems??

    Oh wait a minute. It didn't have a rehabilitation component? Then what was it doing in there?

    It certainly is time for some evidence based rehabilitation services.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1496 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    People have an unreasonable expectation of absolute security.

    In the case mentioned above, the trial judge sentenced Wilson to a very long time in prison - he's now coming to the end of that sentence. So we can't guarantee he won't reoffend? That's a problem, but so is retrospective punishment.

    The state (and by extension in a voteocracy, the voters) are not morally culpable for what individuals do (even if the justice system has 'failed' to prevent their crimes). They *are* culpable for what the state does.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4459 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Ben Curran,

    Ben, I think it's purely and simply that vengeance is an element in any penal code. There has to be some element of revenge in order that people are satisfied enough that they don't try to get revenge themselves. McVicar etc simply aren't satisfied with existing levels of vengeance.

    As far as news coverage goes, appealing stories are easier to build on some emotions than others. Crime and vengeance is an easy angle, forgiveness and sympathy is not. I think McVicar's incredible productivity is one reason he gets lots of press coverage, but he's also giving a message that automatically adds drama and pull to a story. News stories are *stories*. You have a deadline. Why not see what he can give you? Unless there is someone at the Howard League who is as available and as adept at framing things in an emotionally appealing way, his side is always going to dominate irrespective of the merits of their argument. And I can also see it's potentially dangerous for journalists to aggressively police the soundness of the case someone is making before they decide to report on it. That would very much be a practice that could hurt as much as it helps.

    On another note, I was hanging out this weekend with a mate who just took redundancy from Corrections; he's a former prison officer from Mt Eden. Some interesting stories about the spatial design of the new Mt Eden facility, which he had a look at (too many blind spots), and the number of stabbings in the first few months of operations. Another angle on the growth of the prison-industrial complex is that it's really shitty, dangerous work for the people employed in it too.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2963 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Unless there is someone at the Howard League who is as available and as adept at framing things in an emotionally appealing way, his side is always going to dominate irrespective of the merits of their argument.

    And even then, it'll be much harder. But I am annoyed by Peter Williams' approach to the Wilson case. He doesn't seem to know much about it and his laying-on-of-hands offer isn't really helpful in any sense.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18881 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    it's potentially dangerous for journalists to aggressively police the soundness of the case someone is making before they decide to report on it

    Yet that's what journalists used to do more of, rather than regurgitate whatever is fed to them by those with the loudest mouths. Think how much more progress might otherwise have been made combatting climate change or tobacco deaths, for example. Churnalism brings real harms.

    adept at framing things in an emotionally appealing way

    that certainly helps matters.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16661 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Richard Long declares that he has a " soft spot for" Judith Collins....

    It's called "his head"

    ETA shoulda read the rest of your post before leaping into comment ;-)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Sacha,

    Yet that's what journalists used to do more of, rather than regurgitate whatever is fed to them by those with the loudest mouths.

    Their job used to be to inform the public of the truth now it is to inform the public of the news.

    Which is not to say "the good old days were better" but rather to say that the truth really isn't their job - it's not what their employer pays them to report.

    I think that's why the internet has now become the place you find stuff out rather than the 6 O'clock news.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3389 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Haven't there been studies showing that the probability of being caught is a much stronger preventative measure than the severity of the punishment.

    Essentially for many criminals there is a belief that they won't get caught so the punishment is irrelevant.

    Of course the ideal is a society where people don't want to commit crimes in the first place, but the ideal isn't going to happen soon.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3389 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I think it's purely and simply that vengeance is an element in any penal code. There has to be some element of revenge in order that people are satisfied enough that they don't try to get revenge themselves. McVicar etc simply aren't satisfied with existing levels of vengeance.

    A very good point Stephen. The fear based blood baying is not about seeking punishment but is for revenge and vengeance. Its just so bloody primitive!

    But it appeals to so many people and so our politicians attempt to crank up the harshness of prisons to appeal to this public need for vengeance - the sad irony is prisons, especially harsh prisons, make people worse ... almost guaranteeing they will come out somewhere high on the psychotic spectrum but still they don't seem to satisfy this public need for vengeance . I hear phrase like "lock em up throw away the key"... " hard labor that's what they need" etc.

    I wonder if it might be better to simply flog criminals publicly until the sight of blood satisfies the baying crowd.. ah yes vengeance is done and it is sweet. Then release them back into the world. At least they won't be turned psychotic by the dehumanization of prison.

    Maybe when our Rodney the dancing queen talked about 3 strikes he originally meant strikes with something hard and painful.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • whataboutandrew,

    And I think that Howard League lobbyist Peter Williams QC doesn't particularly help by telling the Star Times he would like to hear Wilson's "side of the story" when there's a long, long paper trail containing just that.

    Where does one find this "long paper trail"? I'm not too sure I've seen it despite reading the court judgments and decisions from the Parole Board.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2012 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Haven’t there been studies showing that the probability of being caught is a much stronger preventative measure than the severity of the punishment.

    Most of the literature says that certainty of of punishment is a considerably stronger deterrent than severity of punishment. Example:

    While the criminal justice system as a whole provides some deterrent effect, a key question for policy development regards whether enhanced sanctions or an enhanced possibility of being apprehended provide any additional deterrent benefits. Research to date generally indicates that increases in the certainty of punishment, as opposed to the severity of punishment, are more likely to produce deterrent benefits. This briefing paper provides an overview of criminological research on these relative impacts as a guide to inform future policy consideration.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18881 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston,

    I was there when Bill English made his speech with the "Prisons are a fiscal and moral failure" comment. I couldn't believe what I was hearing from a conservative politician and I felt a great optimism when he talked about the financial good sense in investing in work that stops people going to prison in the first place.

    But nothing has happened since. The prison juggernaut rolls on and the cries for more and harsher imprisonment continue unabated.

    We desperately need some prolonged intelligent debate on this. So firstly big ups to you Russell for your post. How can a more reasoned dialogue arise when the vengeance and punishment lobby is so loud and so able to wield the sound bite to strike the fear into the public?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Most of the literature says that certainty of of punishment is a considerably stronger deterrent than severity of punishment

    But isn't the down side of this is it effectively needs a police state or at least a well policed up state.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Richard Aston,

    But nothing has happened since.

    probably depends which faction inside his party is favoured, rather than anything to do with evidence or sound policy-making.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16661 posts Report Reply

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