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Coroner scathing of Corrections

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

18 June 2008

Coroner scathing of Corrections

The Coroner’s findings into the death of Karl Kuchenbecker at the hands of Graeme Burton confirms what most people knew – that most blame lies with Corrections, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

“The Coroner is critical of all sectors in this mess.

“The Parole Board failed to follow up reports of Burton’s violence in prison; the Probation Service did not act decisively when Burton breached parole; and the Police refused to provide affidavits for his recall, and failed to act quickly on two arrest warrants that were eventually issued.

“But the Coroner is most scathing of Corrections – and rightly so.

“He finds that it failed to provide sufficient information to the Parole Board regarding Burton’s violence, and that its management of him ‘fell below legitimate public expectations’ and its own expectations that he would be managed with ‘zero tolerance’.

“This is the first independent inquiry into Corrections’ role in this sad affair and is in stark contrast to Corrections’ own review, which was clearly more about public relations than accepting responsibility.

“For example, where Corrections identified two breaches of Burton’s parole that justified sanctions, the Coroner identifies six.

“Neither does the Coroner accept Corrections’ submission that it had no basis for charging Burton with breach of parole before he went on his rampage: ‘Fundamentally, Burton was treated as a normal parolee ... when in fact he was a high-risk, high profile parolee ... who required close monitoring for early signs of relapse …’

“But perhaps one paragraph in his report best sums up Corrections’ role: ‘On the evidence, Burton should have been brought to heel immediately he began to breach the conditions of his parole. Instead, he was permitted to move about on a long lead, continuing to breach his conditions without the timely instigation of effective sanctions’.

“This sorry saga is another example of this Government again dropping the ball on law and order.

“They are promising to fix the South Auckland crime problem by changing liquor laws that they haven’t done anything on for two years, and they say they have fixed the problems that led to the Burton fiasco, but as recently as last weekend it was revealed that one of the worst child sex offenders had been paroled to live near two Auckland primary schools.

“How can you trust anyone with a record like that?

“It looks like they haven’t learnt a thing.”


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