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Criminal Summit Leaves Victims Feeling Re-Victimised

Criminal Summit Leaves Victims Feeling Re-Victimised

25th August 2018

"A gentleman whose daughter had been murdered was told that he was “white and privileged." One of the many disturbing comments from the Criminal Summit.

Representatives of New Zealand’s largest independent Victims’ Advocacy group the Sensible Sentencing Group Trust (SSGT) attended the Criminal Justice Summit earlier this week. Joining them also was a Youth Advocate from the Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST).
This is their report on the Summit

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern officially opened the summit at Parliament following a speech from Minister of Justice Andrew Little.

The second day commenced with a Haka Powhiri as crowds headed into the Te Ruaparaha Arena, Porirua. We heard many stories about prisoners who had once been victims of crime. Many victims that have made the choice not to commit crimes found this incredibly insulting. We believe it is important to differentiate between REAL victims of crime and victims who then chose to offend. Further to this we were approached by a gentleman whose daughter had been murdered, he explained he had been told that he was “white and privileged”. At this point we were all feeling re-victimised.

Sensible Sentencing Trusts (SST) Youth Advocate Jess McVicar says the safety of the community must always be paramount in any decision making of the Justice System. She agreed that the Maori incarceration rate is high. Something needs to be done within the community of their people to reduce that, but that simply comes down to one format, the same format for all race of Prisoners.
Following an emotional day in a Summit dominated by the voice of the criminal population we went into the final day with a drive and passion to stand up and be a voice for victims. It was essential to have the views of the victim heard.

The morning saw Jayne Crothall courageously recall what it was like to be attacked brutally with a hammer and to then learn that her three-year-old daughter lay murdered in the next room. Jayne spoke of the outrageous racist comments. Jayne stated that “the summit has been horrendous for REAL victims of crime. They have been re-victimised, all that has been heard was blame and excuses and there was no talk of accountability”. Jayne asked who was going to put their hand up and say “Yes I did that and own it”. She added “the killer of my daughter is not here today, but who is going to say sorry, I’m sorry that happened to you?”

Upon breaking for lunch My Little made an announcement that he had “heard” the victims and “would not sign off on a programme of reform that does not make meaningful change for victims of crime”. Mr Little also stated he is “working on a way we can have a victims centred discussion to feed into the development of the reform programme”.

Sensible Sentencing Trusts (SST) Youth Advocate Jess McVicar said she “hopes Andrew Little will keep to his word regarding a possible victim summit as victims of crime play a major part of the Justice System”. Currently victims of crime do not get legal aid, unlike the accused / offender, they have to rely on their own pockets and what Victim Support can offer them for parole hearings. They only get a limited number of counselling sessions from Victim Support registered councillors and to add insult to injury victim impact statements are vetted.

Moving forward from here Amy says she would like to see a “victim focused criminal justice system, the scales must be balanced and victims should have equal rights. We will wait with anticipation of what will come out of the Criminal Justice Summit – will we see positive change or will it be all talk”.
ENDS

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