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Levy all fines and crimes to pay reparation

PRESS RELEASE 14-9-06


Levy all fines and crimes to pay reparation, says Trust


Criminals should pay their fines and victim reparation or be forced to work off their debt in Government-run restitution centres, says a victim's advocacy group.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has put forward the idea after learning almost $6 million worth of fines and reparations have been wiped by Hawke's Bay judges in the last 5 years.

"We have basically taken the best ideas from around the world and rolled them into what we believe is a very practical, workable victim reparation scheme to fit New Zealand's current situation," said Mr. McVicar.

A "user pays" scheme would see criminals charged an additional GST-type fee over and above their original fine. This would be paid into a ring-fenced consolidated fund that would be used to pay all the money the criminal owes, including victim reparation.

"We also believe that "restitution" work centres should be established so that any criminal who can't pay their fine is placed in the centre and required to work - first for their keep and then to pay outstanding fines and reparation."

"Canada has been operating restitution centres for a number of years and the programme is hugely successful. Virtually all fines and reparations are paid and the added bonus is that criminals are forced to realise that if they are going to have to literally pay for their crimes they may as well get a real job and go straight.

"It is hardly rocket science but here in New Zealand our Government seems to be happy to wallow in the mire they have created. Our so-called criminal justice system has become a gravy train for everyone involved except the victim.

"This is an easy solution. Costs for the tax payer are minimal and the added advantage is that all legal aid and court costs could be added to what the offender must pay back by working. This proposal is a win-win for all concerned."

The Trust will put the idea to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee in the next couple of weeks as it considers changes to victim's rights.

A number of victims will attend in a bid to expose the folly of the current system and the trauma victims suffer when criminals have reparation payments wiped.

ENDS

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