Badlands or fairyland? How to misuse statistics and confuse the public
If Truth in Justice were to have an annual award in 12 months time for the most inaccurate, misleading and appalling publication on crime and punishment, it is unlikely that anything would surpass Badlands: NZ - A Land Fit for Criminals by David Fraser and published by Ian Wishart.
While we were reluctant to give it any more publicity, the book is a self-contained case study of what can happen when someone with a set ideological agenda sets out to prove their position through false logic and the misuse of statistics. It almost qualifies as a serious hazard to public safety.
We asked three people to review the book. Each has approached it from a different perspective.
Doing justice honourably
A crucial question in this election year is how do we do justice honourably with both victims and offenders? How can recidivism continue downwards and how do public attitudes change to being solidly evidence-based? How do we face the challenge of changing the justice landscape? Can we provide the moral courage to help our society take steps towards a more just and merciful society?
New Zealand: Rethinking contributes to Circles of Support and Accountability
Developed by a Mennonite community in Canada in the 1990's, COSA are groups of volunteers from the community into which the offender is released. They meet with a sex offender regularly, provide support for their reintegration and at the same time, hold them accountable for their actions. The volunteers receive extensive training and are fully informed of the offender's history, patterns of offending and the thoughts and behaviours that are likely to signal regression. The Circles begin working with the offender before they are released and are headed by a Circle Coordinator who is connected to other relevant agencies and professionals (e.g. probations, the police and clinicians) calling upon their support and advice as required.
Victim impact statements: Some concerns about current practice and proposed changes
Currently victims have the right to submit a VIS in a variety of ways, though it is usually in writing, and to request the opportunity to present the statement in open court. The judge has the discretion to deny this request and to edit the statement if there are concerns about its length or content. Under the new proposal, victims will have the right to use their own words in the VIS and “to address the offender so that the offender may better perceive the impact of the offence on the victim”. For serious offences (s.29 of the Victims Rights Act), victims will have an automatic right to present their VIS in court, though the judge retains the right to manage the process.
Twenty years of restorative justice in New Zealand: Reflections of a judicial participant
from the article by Judge Fred McElrea:
The following aspects of the family group conference system stand out after 20 years as being both innovative and of potential value to adult systems as well:
New Zealand study: Reoffending Analysis for Restorative Justice Cases: 2008 and 2009
The aim of this study was to determine whether restorative justice conferences led to reduced reoffending. It is based on data for offenders completing conferences in 2008 and 2009 compared with a similar group of offenders who did not receive restorative justice.
The principal finding of the report is that restorative justice had a statistically significant impact on reducing the proportion of people reoffending, and for those who did reoffend, there is an indication of a reduction in the frequency of reoffending and a lower rate of imprisonment.
New Zealand: Church leaders call for review of criminal justice system
From the article by the Episcopal News Service:
Anglican church leaders in New Zealand are urging politicians to set up a special commission to investigate the country's criminal justice system.
The move follows a remark by the Deputy Prime Minister Bill English that "prisons are a fiscal and moral failure."
Archbishops David Moxon and Brown Turei – along with the Anglican Social Justice Commissioner, the Rev. Anthony Dancer – fully agree with English's view.
They suggest politicians can build on English's remarks by: setting up a criminal justice commission to provide independent advice to the government; taking a non-political, bi-partisan approach to those issues; and systematically investigating alternatives to jail, such as restorative justice.
Restorative justice for teens charged in jetski death
from the article in the New Zealand Herald:
Family of Bishop Thompson, the teenager killed in a jetski accident near Rotorua in January, told a judge they never wanted to see the matter taken to court.
Speaking at the invitation of Judge Chris McGuire in the Rotorua District Court this morning, family spokesman Mana Witoko said it supported the plan to have the two youths charged in connection with the death take part in a restorative justice programme.
The power of penal populism in New Zealand from 1999 to 2008
This thesis explains the rise and power of penal populism in contemporary New Zealand society. It argues that the rise of penal populism can be attributed to social, economic and political changes that have taken place in New Zealand since the postwar years. These changes undermined the prevailing penalwelfare logic that had dominated policymaking in this area since 1945.
It examines the way in which ‘the public’ became more involved in the administration of penal policy from 1999 to 2008. The credibility given to a law and order referendum in 1999, which drew attention to crime victims and ‘tough on crime’ discourse, exemplified their new role. In its aftermath, greater influence was given to the public and groups speaking on its behalf.
TV captures killer driver's remorse
A trail-breaking television documentary featuring an emotionally harrowing face-to-face meeting between killer driver Kristy King and one of her victim's families will have a strong Tauranga connection.
Tauranga restorative justice facilitators Tim Clarke and Sharon Stewart play a pivotal role in the conference which screens tomorrow on TV2's 20/20 programme.
A documentary team were there to film the raw emotions of the conference which preceded King's sentencing last month on three charges of careless driving causing death.