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Workman's “Rethinking” not well thought out.

12th November 2008

Workman's “Rethinking” not well thought out.

The concerns of Kim Workman (Director, Rethinking Crime and Punishment) about the “unaffordability” and “fiscal irresponsibility” of long-term imprisonment of offenders convicted for their third strike offence, seem overly alarmist to Sensible Sentencing Spokesperson on Drug Issues, Christine Davey.

Act's David Garrett has stated that his proposed Three Strikes Policy will not be like the USA's, where the third strike can be for something as minimal as stealing a chocolate bar. The Strike crimes in NZ will be clearly defined at the outset, and they will all be for violent offending.

The fact that “The Department of Corrections have 15,000 offenders with three or more convictions for violence currently on their books, with at least half of those not currently in prison” is an indictment on the former Government. It would be interesting to see how many of those offenders were, and continue to be illicit drug users who have not been compelled to receive treatment. This is one area which the National - led Government MUST change.

The Resource Book released last week by the National Committee for Addiction Treatment states that “research indicates that coerced treatment is as effective as voluntary treatment”. If coerced treatment for illicit drug use was in force now, Emma Agnew and many more innocent people would still be alive today.

Mr Workman is aware that National is committed to initiatives such as the 'Fresh Start' programme for young offenders, and of course every attempt must be made to rehabilitate these people from their first offence.

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But the sad fact is that there are some people who will never be rehabilitated, and for the safety of our communities, they must be removed from society. Drug users, however, CAN be rehabilitated, and the sooner they are identified, the quicker this can be achieved.

With the introduction and implementation of appropriate strategies, many offenders will be turned around, and the number of “third-strikers” ending up in prison will be nothing like the 7,000 – 10,000 that Mr Workman predicts.

Ms Davey concludes that his comments amount to scaremongering and contribute nothing useful to this debate. Mr Workman needs to rethink his Rethinking.


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