How would you improve our justice system?
Okay. So you don't like policy on justice reform. What would you suggest to make New Zealand fair again?
Firstly, I agree with the general line of your policy ONLY for certain types of offending. Dangerous violent criminals, rapists and paedophiles need to be handled in a different way to criminals committing drug offences, property crimes/theft, etc. Yes these offences can have devastating secondary impacts to peoples lives, but they are not a direct interpersonal violation in the way the other crimes are. Lumping all crimes together with a rehabilitation focus misses part of the point of punishment. Punishment doesnt help the offender or society long term by the numbers. But what it does provide is a sense of Justice to the victims, their families and their communities. That is a financially costly thing, but if you take that away for a solely rehabilitative focus then you diminish the value of victims of direct interpersonal crimes. We as a nation need to take a clear stance on what we see as completely unacceptable behaviours (interpersonal violation, violence) versus what we agree are behaviours that need remediation as they are not conducive to the good functioning of a society. My example here is that people will see theft in some cases as justifiable - almost just. How would you feed your hungry child? We also understand people lose their way and get addicted to drugs. But crimes like murder, violent assault, sexual assault, rape and paedophilia are things we need to make intollerable as a society. The focus here is not on rehabilitation doe the offender and for the greater good of society. It is on providing society with a sense of justice and stability that punishment of offenders directly targets. The tougher sentencing brigade will jump on this weakness of lumping all crimes together and will leverage the powerful emotive sentiment around direct interpersonal offending to make this policy seem like it considers offenders and more valuable than victims. There needs to be a clear upfront indication of how crimes are categorised and there should be a sliding scale of punishment versus rehabilitation levels. Punishment and rehabilitation should not be handled from the same facilities. Primarilly we need rehabilitation facilities, but we do need punishment and exclusion facilities as well, for dangerous violent criminals. Drug possession crimes should be almost entirely rehabilitative, for example. Rape and intentional murder, etc, should be heavilly geared towards punishment. The power and reach that gangs have within current prison facilities, is not itself a reason to give up punishment as a practise of delivering justice. It is something that needs to be addressed systematically by taking away their drug trade (legalisation etc) and providing an alternative to the other social pay-offs that gangs provide.
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