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Media Needs to be Well Informed on Law and Order issues

Media Needs to be Well Informed on Law and Order issues Pre-election

Date : 1st July 2014

Rethinking Crime and Punishment is urging media outlets to be better informed on crime on justice issues, heading into the general election. “In its latest blog , “Seven Sharp and Penal Policy – Let’s Do the Time Warp Again” spokesperson Kim Workman makes a favourable comparison between the quality of the public law and order debate now, and the same debate ten years ago.. You can read the blog athttp://blog.rethinking.org.nz/2014/07/seven-sharp-and-penal-policy-lets-do.html

Kim Workman identified the recent media response to Justspeak’s ‘Unlocking Prisons’ report as an excellent example of a responsible and well informed media. “It's a different debate than that of a decade ago, when the discussion was dominated by the 'tough on crime' polemic that labelled disputants as “soft lefties”, ''liberal loonies', and the such. It is not only prisons that have been unlocked but ideas; and those ideas are generating a new wave of discussion.”

“As the public mood has shifted from the 'tough on crime' rhetoric, something else had to replace it. More and more, the debate is centring on a different question “Is what we are doing working?” This is not just a discussion for elitist academics or criminal justice professionals. The wider community has a stake in the outcome, and more people are having their say. As that discussion occurs, the gap between competing opinions has closed – we discover things we can agree on, rather than focus on the things that set us apart.”

“There are of course exceptions, and the Seven Sharp’s recent interview on the ‘Unlocking Prisons’ report was one of them. Mike Hosking promoted two ideas. First, that a correlation exists between a high imprisonment rate and a declining crime rate. Second, that the New Zealand public have a ‘general desire’ to see public locked up and punished. There is no evidence for either of those propositions, and our blog explains why. The danger is that the public watching the programme will regard Mike Hosking as an authoritative source, which in turn can distort public opinion.”

“It is clear that the New Zealand public are ready and willing to become part of the response to a more effective criminal justice system. All they need is accurate information and opportunity.”

“Informed public opinion encourages truth telling and honesty. That can work to the disadvantage of anyone who makes claims unsupported by evidence. Rethinking Crime and Punishment is in the business of informing citizens, the mass media, practitioners, policy-makers and politicians about what works in reducing crime. In the process it highlights the flaws in quick and dirty research, identifies populist measures that have no evidential basis, and suggests approaches that will get better results. We are already providing information and research to a number of media outlets, and our criminal justice information clearing house, Te Pataka is steadily accumulating research information, and is available online.”
“We need to move out of the 2004 time warp, and promote informed and responsible public debate.”
Rethinking’s blog “Seven Sharp and Penal Policy – Let’s do the Time Warp Again” is available athttp://blog.rethinking.org.nz/2014/07/seven-sharp-and-penal-policy-lets-do.html

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