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Community Consultation Key to Successful Reform

15 August 2006

Community Consultation the Key to Successful Justice Reform

The Salvation Army and Prison Fellowship today cautioned that the successful implementation of the Government's new justice reform package, will depend upon the extent to which the public understand and support the changes.

In a joint statement today, Major Campbell Roberts of the Salvation Army, and Kim Workman of Prison Fellowship New Zealand, commended the government for its decision to launch a comprehensive justice reform package, aimed at reducing the number of persons sentenced to imprisonment. 'This is the first time in many years that a government has been prepared to look beyond the next election, and develop a package of measures which will reduce the imprisonment rate over the long term while at the same time preserving public safety.'

'We will need to study the detailed content of this package, before making further public comment. It is clear however, that some of the strategies, e.g. home detention as an alternative to imprisonment and community based sentencing will be of wide public interest and moves well beyond the prevailing 'get tough' rhetoric of the last decade. Other issues, such as offending by Maori, and the wider use of restorative justice, will require level-headed community discussion and debate'.

'The government proposal aligns closely with the conclusions in the Salvation Army's report, 'Beyond the Holding Tank', and the statement issued by the 280 participants attending Prison Fellowship's May Conference 'Beyond Retribution'. It also addresses issues raised by the Ombudsman's Office in its report issued in December of last year'.

'Government will need to ensure that the reasoning and rationale behind the proposed changes are fully communicated to the New Zealand public, and the community understands that these reforms are intended to more effectively prevent crime, rehabilitate those offenders who will respond to change, and reduce reoffending in the long term.

Most New Zealanders would rather see their money currently spent on prisons, diverted into positive spending areas such as hospitals and schools'. This strategy makes that a possibility.

ENDS

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