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Govt Seeking Corrections Advice From Wrong Sources

Saturday 23rd Jun 2001

Having a gang criminal advise on prisons and corrections policy “is not necessarily silly”, says Act Justice Spokesman, Stephen Franks. "We could support it. Everyone has heard of setting a thief to catch a thief, poacher turned gamekeeper etc.

"The real problem is that this is the wrong criminal. Mr Tam sounds as if he has been hired to tell Corrections Minister more of what he wants to hear. He will support more of the same failed 30- year experiment that has given us sexual violence, burglary, and robbery rates more than twice as high as the United States.

“He will help sell the pseudo-reform Sentencing Bill Justice Minister Goff has been promising since he and his colleagues were shocked by the 92 percent 'Get Tough' referendum at the last election.

“If this government really wanted sound policy advice it need only ask why the US has nearly halved many crime rates over the last decade while ours’ have rocketed. Their TV violence has not changed. Their race tensions remain. Drugs are as rife as ever. Income inequalities are as stark. Only one thing has really changed. They started to mean what they say when they told criminals 'we hate crime and it will be punished'.

"Ordinary common sense New Zealanders could also advise the Minister. It is not the absence of ‘support for gangs in employment, education, accommodation and recreation’ Mr Tam is reported to want.

"Straightforward things have worked. Firm policing, ending parole, certain minimum sentencing, ensuring compliance with 'community sentencing', not being shamefaced about punishment, making the law mean what it says.

"The successes around the world should give us hope. It just needs a government that thinks of victims above those of criminals,” Stephen Franks said.


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