Grubby white collar crime: Life without an ethical framework
The New Zealand media has been awash over the last few days, with news about the unauthorised credit card purchases by former Ministers of the Crown, including purchases for flowers, massages, and a set of golf clubs. While they have all paid the money back, it was a clear breach of parliamentary service rules. It is a practise that in the business sector would result in withdrawal of credit privileges, and possible dismissal.
Former Cabinet Minister Shane Jones, although not the biggest spender, publicly confessed to hiring around 50 porno movies while staying at hotels, and has come in for special media treatment. His wife and family are furious with him, and those of us who regard him as potentially a significant Maori political statesman, are by turns, angry with him, and saddened. I spoke with Shane yesterday at the airport, and we shared about the cathartic nature of confession, and its spiritual value.
Three strikes: A blot on our judicial landscape
The passing into law of the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill (the three strikes legislation) last week, was a milestone of a kind – it marked the passing into law of arguably the worst piece of criminal justice legislation in New Zealand history.
While the legislation is a shocker, the way in which it was managed through the legislation process is a case study in political manipulation of the democratic process, lending weight to Lord Acton’s famous words, “All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Three strikes 'means nothing to lose'
He has visited more than 1000 jails but Rimutaka Prison's container cells were a first for a visiting expert, who says locking up criminals for life will spark violence.
The Prison Fellowship International president Ronald Nikkel, from Canada, was in Wellington this week, after the Sentencing and Parole Reform Act, or "three strikes" law, was passed.
It's time to make the punishment fit the white-collar crime
from the Nelson Mail (NZ) editorial:
....it's not easy to maintain a clear-eyed focus on justice.
Very few New Zealanders will feel that this is what happened when Blue Chip co-founder Mark Bryers entered the dock on Thursday to be sentenced on 34 charges. Most, and particularly the Blue Chip investors who have lost their nest eggs, will feel that his sentence was a perfect case of the "slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket".
Can prisoners also be victims? Promoting injustice through legislation
by Kim Workman
Last week’s introduction of the Prisoners' and Victims' Claims (Expiry and Application Dates) Amendment Bill, brings to mind one of the most shameful incidents in the history of New Zealand’s prison system. As Head of Prisons at the time, it gives me no great pleasure to reflect on the incident and the subsequent political response to it.
In January 1993, three young prisoners at Mangaroa (now Hawkes Bay) prison were systematically beaten and tortured by prison officers. They held the young men naked in outside exercise yards, and used hit squads to repeatedly beat them over a three day period. The prisoners were initially denied access to medical support for injuries which included bruising and cracked bones.
Proposed "three strikes" legislation in New Zealand
In recent months, the three strikes legislation has created concern across the political and ideological spectrum. The Maxim Institute, sponsored a speaking tour by Professor Warren Brookbanks and Senior Lecturer Richard Ekins of Auckland University. They also published an excellent report setting out the facts about the three strikes legislation.
....Brookbanks and Ekins report “Criminal Injustice and the Three Strikes Law” considers the legislation is both wrong and unjust for the following reasons:
Restorative Justice Centre's submission to Ministry of Justice on victims' rights
The Restorative Justice Centre at AUT University in New Zealand has responded to a discussion draft titled "A Focus on Victims of Crime: A Review of Victims' Rights" on how the government might better address the needs of crime victims. Following are excerpts from RJC's response:
9. The central justice needs of victims are submitted to be accountability, vindication, empowerment, information, truth-telling and future safety. Only the first and last of these are addressed (to some degree) by the current legal process, and then only when the offender is convicted. Thus in crimes that go largely unreported, such as sexual offences, there can be no feeling of accountability in the absence of alternative processes, and victims remain unsafe.
10. The remaining four central justice needs are those which Dr Howard Zehr, known to and used by MoJ as a consultant in restorative justice, has said are “especially neglected”. They are next mentioned separately. However they overlap with needs identified by other writers.
Parole denied for repeat drink-driver who killed woman
from Radio New Zealand News:
The Parole Board is encouraging the family of a woman killed by a repeat drink-driver to consider a restorative justice meeting with him.
Jonathan Barclay is serving a prison term of five years and six months for the manslaughter of 20-year-old Debbie Ashton, whom he killed in a head-on car crash near Nelson.
Let mana grow
New Zealand and the US bear some resemblance as big-time human lock-ups. The US is world leader in incarceration and New Zealand is in the top quartile. New Zealand is the 125th most populated country in the world out of 258, yet the 57th most incarcerated. This gives new meaning to the cliché “punching above our weight.” I outlined three things New Zealand could offer to the US in this area: learnings about our system of restorative justice (with its emphasis on “repairing the harm”), our Maori-Pakeha experience of biculturalism, and an appreciation of the development of mana, that special Maori concept denoting personal bearing, presence, and character.
Victim Support workers told to ignore political comments
From the article on 3news.co.nz:
Volunteers at a Victim Support conference this weekend were urged to ignore the "victims versus offenders" debate from politicians....
Director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment Kim Workman said this kind of "oppositional thinking" was counterproductive and unhelpful.
"We must reject any proposition that potentially divides us.
"Many of you work with both victims and offenders, in the areas of family violence, child abuse, restorative justice, and prisoner reintegration.
"Our success depends on our ability to work effectively within the justice system, across the board, in order to reduce victimisation."