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Conference a landmark in the Prison Reform Debate

May 2006

Conference a “landmark” in the Prison Reform Debate

The Prison Fellowship of New Zealand “Beyond Retribution’ Conference, held at Silverstream, Upper Hutt, was described by Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Rosslyn Noonan, as a ‘landmark’ in the criminal justice debate.

The 280 participants included representatives from the judiciary, members of the Notorious Chapter of the Mongrel Mob, academics, policy advisers, service providers, and Iwi, Maori and Pacific representatives.

One of the highlights of the /Conference was a presentation by Mongrel Mob members from South Auckland, who traced their efforts to change the lives the last ten years. Commenting on the presentation, Kim Workman, National Director of Prison Fellowship, said the presentation was a “mind blower” for many of the participants. Of the 37 members of the gang who decided to change nine years ago, only two have ended up back in prison. One of the basic messages was that instead of focusing on failure and what is going wrong, we need to focus more on our success stories, and identify what the ingredients for success are.

“Throughout the conference there was a call from a wide range of academics and practitioners, to move outside of the current paradigms around the practice of restorative justice. What New Zealanders are being urged to do, is to integrate restorative practice thinking into its criminal justice processes and programmes. We have really only touched on the full potential of a process which holds offenders directly accountable for the harm done to others, and engages victims, offenders and the wider community in a process of reparation, restoration and reconciliation.”

“A full report on the Conference will be published by August. There is a wealth of material, much of it thoughtful and occasionally provocative, which invites politicians, government agencies and the public, to re-think their ideas about crime and punishment, “said Kim Workman.” :


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