Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Will this Criminologist Debate the Issues?

Will this Criminologist Debate the Issues?

Monday 2 Sep 2002 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice -- Zero Tolerance for Crime

"ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks called for criminologist Dr John Pratt to publicly debate his "tougher sentences don't work" theories. The Victoria University of Wellington academic issued a release today deploring the fact that "an increasingly anxious and insecure public has demanded greater involvement in penal affairs," taking control away from the academics and bureaucratic experts.

"Dr Pratt's media release will attract attention because it attacks politicians without naming them. As one of his targets I sincerely hope he will debate the issues publicly instead of just firing shots from the top of the ivory tower.

"I want to read Dr Pratt's book. If he has evidence to show getting tough on crime doesn't work, he will have a world beater. The criminologists keep telling each other that it won't work. The anointed who have had control of penal policy (and media comment on it) keep saying that everyone knows that it doesn't work. But apparently the criminals in the US who committed a third less crime last year than 10 years ago haven't yet heard them.

"I have been trying to get to the bottom of this "everyone knows" belief. I followed up a claim by a VUW criminologist during the election campaign that longer sentences may even worsen crime. She admitted there was no study that established it. She said it was based on her "long experience".

"Victoria University risks becoming a nest for reactionary criminologists - refugees from the growing awareness elsewhere of the stunning success of US criminal justice reforms. Cutting crime by more than a third has blighted academics' theories and careers. Their remaining criticism is that to cut crime, too many criminals have to be locked up. Precisely!

"They dismiss the US achievement on the grounds that no-one would want to copy their numbers in prison. Four thousand more New Zealanders were beaten, bashed and robbed last year than if we had kept our violent crime figures at 1999 levels when the Labour government took power. They and their families might think that more criminals in prison was a price well worth paying.

"The real test of the US law reforms will be in say 10 years time. Then the staggering one-third drop in violent youth crime will have filtered through to reduce recruitment to prison. That is the only honest way to reduce both crime and prison musters. Because prison does not reform. Once criminals are hardened we can only lock them up until they get too old to offend.

"If the academic criminologists who decide the Labour government's criminal justice policy have their way, New Zealand will achieve the worst of all possible worlds - much longer sentences because the people will insist on it, but no reduction in crime because the anointed controlling the prisons and the parole system keep apologising for punishment," Mr Franks said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Sector Opposes Bill: Local Government Bill Timeframe Extended

The Minister of Local Government Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has asked the Select Committee to extend the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). More>>


Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>


Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>


General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>


Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news