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Important Moment in Criminal Justice History


Formation of Justice Coalition an Important Moment in Criminal Justice History

“For the first time in the 170 year history of New Zealand’s criminal justice system, a group of non-government organisations has formed a coalition to work with government and criminal justice stakeholders, toward a more effective and fair criminal justice system”, says Kim Workman, interim Coordinator of the Justice Coalition. He was speaking at the parliamentary launch of the Justice Coalition, a collective of 12 Justice Sector NGO, who have formed a collective to work cooperatively with key justice sector stakeholders and government agencies, toward improved sector performance.

“From today onwards, there will be a strong and increasingly effective collective voice in the criminal justice sector” said Phil McCarthy, Executive Director of the Robson Hanan Trust. Change in the sector can occur more effectively, when there is effective collaboration and communication between government agencies and key stakeholders.“

Gregory Fortuin, Executive Chair of Prison Fellowship New Zealand, agrees. “Coalition members have committed to a common vision, a shared set of measurable goals, and to the pursuit of evidence-based activities which not only reinforce one another’s work, but also contribute to the Government’s targets. We have been well received by the Ministry of Justice, the Police and in particular by the Department of Corrections. We have already been holding regular meetings with the key government agencies, and have had the opportunity to make our views known on such issues as prisoner reintegration and rehabilitation, justice sector research programme, contracting issues, the expansion of restorative justice initiatives, and prison safety.”

Other members have noted the benefits in working with other criminal justice agencies. As Tony Paine, CEO of Victim Support puts it, “This has been a great opportunity to advocate for better awareness of victims issues, in a sector that tends to be dominated by offender issues.
We have noticed that other Coalition members are becoming more aware of victims’ needs.”

Dr Greg Coyle of the Salvation Army notes a trend toward collaborative behaviour within the sector. “The recent opportunity to tender for prisoner reintegration and restorative justice services, has seen service providers making joint applications to deliver services, on a collaborative rather than competitive basis. In that way we can share our skills base, share the risk, pool our resources, but also maintain our individual identity and relationships at the local level.”

There will be times when the Justice Coalition will need to speak publicly about issues of wide concern. As Dr Elizabeth Stanley of the National Coalition of Howard Leagues explains, “We will work together to promote and pursue the development and implementation of just, humane and effective justice sector strategies. With a single united voice and coordinated effort, we believe we can more effectively foster the values and deliver the outcomes set out above. Where Government policies or departmental operations depart from these principles, breach human rights, fail to respond to the real causes of crime or adopt reactionary and destructive responses to the harm caused by crime we will be speaking out, individually or collectively.”

Kim Workman, current Coordinator of the Justice Coalition, believes the best is yet to come.
“This is a diverse group, but it is about to become even more so. As from today, we will be working to establish a Justice Coalition Stakeholder network, comprising like-minded organisations who may be locally-based or whose mandate may overlap with ours in respect of particular issues or projects. We envisage a network of organisations that will work collaboratively and in partnership with the core group on issues of special interest, at a demographic, ethnic or geographic basis.

The core members of the Justice Coalition comprise:

• Community Law Centres o Aotearoa;
• Henwood Trust;
• Howard League of Penal Reform NZ
• The Coalition of Howard Leagues
• Victim Support;
• Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Trust NZ;
• Prison Chaplaincy Service of Aotearoa NZ;
• Prison Fellowship NZ;
• Restorative Justice Aotearoa;
• National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges;
• The Salvation Army.

ends

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