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Full Criminal Records Must Be Made Public

Friday 17 May 2002

ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks has written to the Corrections and Justice Ministers seeking assurances that when the murderers in the two South Auckland shootings are convicted, their previous criminal record details will not be suppressed.

"I've been trying for months to get from the Corrections Minister criminal record details on a range of offenders to assess the usefulness of the various `treatments' they've had from the criminal justice system. I've met a solid brick wall - the Minister's concern about the privacy interests of what his Department calls its `clients'.

"The basic records of previous convictions and sentences of convicted offenders are given in open court at the time of sentencing, but after that the shutters come down. A subsequent enquiry can't get even the information previously given in open court. The detailed records of the way these people have been handled by the justice system are kept secret.

"I have submitted to the Ombudsman that this is wrong, and I await a response. New Zealanders need to know what is producing these conscienceless sub-humans. How can we judge the effectiveness of the various remedies against criminals? The Ministers of Justice and Corrections have told me they don't know how many offend while on parole or early release. They don't know how many commit crimes while on community sentencing. We could study actual criminal records to see what has worked and what has not but they won't let that information out either.

"This Government's recently enacted sentencing and parole reform legislation cements in place our dopey failed 30-year criminal justice experiment. It is totally focussed on the so-called criminogenic needs of offenders, instead of delivering justice for victims and the rule of law.

"I believe detailed study of the records of various criminals would demonstrate the extent of the failure, which is why, I suspect, the Ministers will not release the information about their clients.

"The public is entitled to know just how much government help the South Auckland robbers have had. Perhaps this time I will get an assurance from the Justice and Corrections Ministers that the public will not be kept in the dark, Stephen Franks said.


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