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Let's End the Law and Order Auction

Let's End the Law and Order Auction - Rethinking Crime and Punishment


"The New Zealand opposition should follow the example of their counterparts in NSW, and pledge an end to the law and order auction." Kim Workman, Director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment, has called on the Leader of the Opposition to demonstrate leadership on the law and order debate, by breaking with the tradition of engaging in a law and order auction with government.

"The NSW Opposition today pledged to end the "law and order auction" in promising to increase punishments - a tradition that has charactised both NSW and New Zealand for too long. The NSW's Coalition's justice spokesman, Greg Smith, who entered Parliament in 2007 with a reputation as a tough criminal prosecutor, said hardline sentencing and prisons policies - including those of his own party - have failed.

In an article in today's Sydney Morning Herald, an expert on justice policy, the Emeritus Professor in Criminal Law at the University of NSW, David Brown, said that after the
Unsworth government lost the 1988 election to Nick Greiner, the new ALP leader, Bob Carr, bought into the law and order auction. "Once Carr let the law-and-order genie out of the bottle, it became standard political competition to posture over who was toughest on crime, setting up a dynamic that no-one, up to now, has had the courage to end,"

Kim Workman pointed out that the New Zealand Labour government copied Bob Carr with its "tough on crime" stance. "Their has been a law and order auction at every election since. Someone finally has had the courage to say that it hasn't worked, the prisons are overflowing, and reoffending has not reduced. It's regrettable that a Kiwi didn't say it first."

"Prison Fellowship and the Salvation Army, through its Rethinking project, urged the previous government to take a bipartisan approach to law and order. The Green Party and United Future were keen, but the early meetings soon fizzled. What is now needed is someone with the courage to acknowledge that the current approach is not working."

"The NSW Opposition has also acknowledged that unless you do something for prisoners after they get out of jail, the more likely they are to hurt society again and commit more crime.
They further acknowledge that recidivism rates are far too high and the harsh line they have taken, with the Government proud of the size of the prisons, and proud to build more, shows a lack of care for people in prisons, their families and the community generally, because it is short-sighted."

"The Hon Phil Goff, the Leader of the Opposition was the architect of the "tough on crime" stance, in his role as Minister of Justice. If he could take a similar stance, we might see some emerging a rational and strategic approach to criminal justice policy."

Sydney Morning Herald Ref: http://www.smh.com.au/cgi-bin/common/popupPrintArticle.pl?path=/articles/2009/01/07/123100... 8/01/2009


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