Crime And Punishment
In a joint statement, the Salvation Army and Prison Fellowship New Zealand called for a structured public debate on the issues of crime and punishment. Spokespersons Major Campbell Roberts and Kim Workman, joined in the call for a more informed and rational approach to the issues of crime and punishment, flowing from the release of the Treasury report, which identified the cost of crime at $9.1b.
Prison Fellowship and the Salvation Army are jointly exploring new and creative ways in which the wider community can take part in generating a body of fresh policy ideas about crime and punishment, and in particular rethinking alternatives to prison.
We have a record prison population but do not feel protected from crime said Kim Workman, National Director, Prison Fellowship. "Prison has an apparently uncritical support from some sections of the media and public, yet large numbers of prisoners re-offend. They do so at enormous financial and social cost.
Whatever your view of prison, we think there is a need for fresh thinking, new ideas and a much wider public debate. We need a process which will increase public understanding of and involvement in the criminal justice system and inject fresh thinking into the public debate.
Major Campbell Roberts and Kim Workman identified a three pronged approach to the issue.
1. Improving public understanding
The public needs to be better informed of the basic facts and engaged in a debate about the nature of crime and punishment. Information must be targeted at a wide range of groups, including politicians, journalists, Maori and Pacific peoples, churchgoers, trade union members, broadcasters, the judiciary and many other lay and professional groups. The information should be conveyed through websites, publications, information packs and conferences.
2. Fresh thinking about alternatives
Both organisations are committed to increase awareness of the alternatives to prison, and examine the most effective use of prison. We consider that the government should support projects which investigate and promote alternatives to prison such as restorative justice and other community penalties through campaigns, conferences and seminars, as well as through detailed research and reports.
3. Active community involvement
Civil society needs to support approaches which actively involve members of the public in the criminal justice and penal system. The government needs to involve such groups as business leaders, the judiciary, the families of offenders and community groups. We should publicise the ways in which volunteers can get involved in the criminal justice system.