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Bail Review a Good Idea, but Reviewing Judges Problematic

Bail Review a Good Idea, but Reviewing Judges’ Performance Problematic

“While a review of the bail laws is a worthwhile idea, it’s important that those advocating for change have all the information before them, so that they can make an informed decision about what it is they want out of the review,” says Kim Workman, Director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment.

“Sensible Sentencing Trust has been calling for a performance based assessment of judicial decisions for some time. In its view, when an offender is bailed, the judge should be able to show that there is no risk to public safety. However, the Judges make 15,000 remand decisions every year, and of those who are remanded in custody, 20% do not serve a custodial sentence. Some of those are not convicted of an offence, while others either serve a community based sentence, or are sentenced to a period of imprisonment which is less than the time spent on remand. Should the Judge be penalised for remanding someone in custody who is not a risk to public safety? Performance assessments work both ways. Or are there other factors to consider?”

“If the Police consider that the Judge has made a serious mistake, they already have the right to appeal against the decision to bail.”

Rethinking has today requested further information from the Ministry of Justice, so that full information can be provided to those seeking a review.


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