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Salvation Army proposes raft of criminal justice initiatives

27 November 2019

For immediate release

Salvation Army proposes raft of criminal justice initiatives, says government agenda does not go far enough

The Salvation Army’s Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit today released a broad range of proposals which it says will address systemic problems in the criminal justice system.

The proposals are published in the third of a series of justice policy papers the unit has issued since August. It sets out 18 recommendations ranging from increased training for the corrections and courts workforces to expanding victim support services. Earlier papers explored the roots of offending and surveyed findings from evaluations of successful rehabilitation programmes.

“As a society, we are coming firmly to the view that if crime is to be addressed, it must be tackled in the justice delivery space through addressing the holistic needs of offenders, most of whom have experienced systemic deprivation and discrimination across generations,” report author, Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, a former social worker, said.

The Salvation Army report is timely, following the publication of government crime strategies, Te Hiringa o Te Tai – Police Crime Prevention Strategy and Hōkai Rangi Ara Poutama Aotearoa which echo some of the unit’s recommendations.

“The Salvation Army has worked with offenders since its founding,” Lt. Colonel Ian Hutson, director of SPPU, noted. “Our baseline has always been the inherent dignity of human beings and their potential for transformation; it is encouraging that corrections policy is endorsing this approach, too.”

However, the report goes further than what government is prepared to implement at this stage. It notes that poverty and deprivation together with attitudes in the courts and procedural delays cause ‘push and lock’ factors, drawing individuals into crime and making it difficult for them to leave.

“While Corrections proposals are to be welcomed, what we are proposing are a deeper set of attitudinal shifts in the criminal justice process that modify how we view offenders. For example, we need to consider a departure from traditional courtroom practice because research shows that a reparative approach is far more effective,” Dr Wijeysingha stated.

“Ultimately, we should be aiming for reparative sentencing, pro-social rehabilitation, and wraparound support leading to long-term reintegration, “ added Lt. Colonel Hutson.

The Briefing Note can be accessed at https://www.salvationarmy.org.nz/article/refining-criminal-justice-outcomes

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