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Cross-party Political Support for Victims

May 2006

Cross-party Political Support for Victims

There is widespread cross party political support for placing victims firmly at the centre of the judicial process”, said Kim Workman, National Director, Prison Fellowship New Zealand. He was commenting on Dr Brash’s statement, calling for a justice system that provides more support for victims.

At the “Beyond Retribution” Conference, attended by 280 people from across the political spectrum, there was total support for a justice system which held offenders more directly accountable for the harm caused to victims, including a more effective system of reparation.

"Dr Brash has rightly pointed out that most offenders do not pay reparation. One of the difficulties with the current system , is that offenders who are ordered to pay reparation, usually don’t have the income to do so. One of the recommendations from the Conference was that such offenders be placed on community work, and paid a minimum hourly rate by their employer. These could be state owned enterprises such as hospitals and schools. That money would then be paid to the victim as reparation."

"One of the problems we have is that the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Corrections measures success in terms of reduced re-offending. It should also measure success in terms of those victims who have experienced healing as part of the judicial process. That would mean that restorative practice would become part of the core business of both agencies, rather than as an optional “add on”. "

In the last twelve months, Prison Fellowship has carried out 21 restorative justice conferences in prison. Victim satisfaction with the process is very high, and many offenders are motivated to change as a result of the process. However, the work is not currently funded by government, and the costs of this work are met by public donation.

"Almost all the key speakers and contributors were supportive of a more imaginative expansion of restorative practice, which through involving the victim in the judicial process, would provide opportunities for restorative conferences between offenders and their victims, and hold them more directly accountable for their behaviour. "

ENDS

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