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Marc My Words


Marc My Words.

From Marc Alexander MP

United Future NZ-Christchurch

Justice Minister Phil Goff wants to tighten section 100 of his sentencing Act which allows for offenders to be kept in home detention under special circumstances. These circumstances include those whose sentences have been deferred pending a judgement for home detention. While I certainly understand the Ministers intent to impose bail conditions, the broader question must surely be to ask why these convicted offenders are given any benefit before being assessed at all?

This is no small consideration because last year it affected 461 offenders including two convicted of rape, four for kidnapping, and one for aggravated robbery. While others had breached their parole and bail conditions, one had simply escaped custody!

Simply applying bail conditions would hardly be much of an inducement to avoid absconding or committing additional crimes. Let's not forget that bail is typically applied to those technically innocent, (since they have yet to be found guilty and is a substitute for remand).

I can see no reason why those convicted of crimes, prior to sentencing, not to taste life behind bars. These offenders must be made to feel a consequence to their actions. After all.they had the choice. Why put misplaced charity where none was given in the commission of the offence? Problem is.given the choice of home detention without conditions or with; it's hard not to support Phil Goffs' initiative.

************ Remember the case of Tania Witika? She, along with her partner Edward Smith, tortured her daughter to death 12 years ago. They each served a prison term for this offence.

If we put aside legitimate questions relating to the miserly sentence, since her release she has applied for the position of social worker with CYFS which (thanks to some commonsense for a change) denied her the possibility of filling any role which might have her having direct contact with children. The real worry was that it was possible that she might be given a support position within the organisation instead.

Quite bluntly neither this woman, nor any other with a similar background, should ever be considered for a position responsible for the well being of any child or adult, and most importantly, never be left alone with children under any circumstances. There will undoubtedly be a number of 'boneheads' who will misconstrue this view as being harsh, unreasonable and unforgiving. To them I offer a resolute and unapologetic 'yes'!

To consider such criminals worthy of a second chance, (a chance they denied their victim) is to enshrine an ideology of altruistic befuddlement better suited to a far off and distant daydream capturing such a logical fog. If the intelligence behind such misplaced charity were turned into vegetables there wouldn't be enough for a spoonful of soup!

There are dozens of jobs this woman could do that would allow for her reintegration into society without involving contact with children. Although personally somewhat sceptical, I do wish her success in turning her life around. Nothing will ever make up for her crime but I suggest that if she was sincerely trying to get back on track, she could donate a portion of her income to Victim Support. It's the least she could do.

The good news is that I have been reliably advised that Witika will never be given employment at CYFS. My fingers are, nevertheless, still crossed!

************

The new Christchurch Te Puna o Waiwhetu Art Gallery is now open and it is a spectacular addition to the cultural life of the city.

Unlike the cheerless bleating of National MPs David Carter and Gerry Brownlee who weren't invited to the opening festivities and showed damn all initiative, I made a couple of calls and was duly rewarded with an invitation. I thoroughly enjoyed the participation of the orchestra, the Maori challenge and the balloons. What's more, I even enjoyed the speeches!

Unlike the Te Papa in Wellington, which always looked like a bit of a cultural add-on, our 'Te Mama' in Christchurch arises out of a strong arts tradition. It is a beautiful edifice, close to the Arts Centre, Museum and city centre that will be a huge asset to the whole Canterbury region. As Mayor Gary Moore so eloquently expressed, "if the city centre is the heart, then this gallery is the soul of Christchurch."

Come to think of it.there was no need for the two National MPs.the balloons were already filled and they flew beautifully!

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