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Crime and Punishment


A brief post as Adam is between meetings in Auckland.

Predictably Dame Sian Elias has excited the hang’em, shoot’em, flog’em brigade with her speech.

The appalling Garth McVicar was predictable with his call for Dame Sian to resign.

Colin Espiner has an excellent blog post on the matter.

We are spending literally hundreds of millions of dollars on building more prisons to lock up evermore people. The % of population incarcerated rivals that of the USA. Ever harsher sentences are not achieving much it would seem.

Whilst not agreeing with every thing Dame Sian said, we need to think again about our attitudes to crime, punishment and rehabilitation.

Clearly our current approach is not working.

Will probably comment again over the weekend.

  1. 18/07/2009 14:52

    We all know the system [prison ,social services, etc] is not working, including the mental health establishment. My problem with Dame Sian Elias, ideas are that she suggests that more of these same unworkable social services are needed in the community to handle the problem of over crowding prisons. The reason they are filled is because the failed philosophies [social services] of psychiatry and psychology have made the problem worst instead of reducing it. They don’t work inside the prison and they don’t work outside the prison.

    Psychiatry: No Cures No Science [4 mins]

    Psychiatrists openly admitting at the 2006 APA convention that they have no scientific tests to prove mental illness and have no cures for these unproven mental illnesses.

    Friday, 12 October, 10 – 11 am
    “Another one bites the dust: New Zealand’s latest experiment in criminal rehabilitation”.

    Associate Professor Greg Newbold, School of Sociology and Anthropology

    Since 1910, New Zealand has been engaged in a constant search to find a method of rehabilitating criminals that really works. In 1996, inspired by the work of Canadian criminologist Paul Gendreau and others, the Department of Corrections embarked on a new experiment called Integrated Offender Management (IOM). Based on a psychotherapeutic model, IOM involves a complicated and expensive process of identifying an inmate’s ‘criminogenic needs’, creating programs to address those ‘needs’, and applying the programs in the hope of preventing further offending. When initially conceived it was hoped that IOM would produce at least a 25 percent improvement in overall correctional efficiency. Eleven years on, with five-year reconviction rates remaining in the region of 86 percent, it appears that IOM has failed. This paper examines the objectives, strategy, and actual implementation of IOM in New Zealand, and suggests why the project inevitably foundered.


  2. 17/07/2009 18:05

    We can put the expense part to bed right away, and thats prisons and prisoner costs.

    Each year crime costs us $9.1 billion (Treasury (Roper) 2003/04 year)
    It costs $500-600 million to run the prisons.

    That means we have billions available to us if we can come up with a significant reduction in crime, and that includes just simply building more prisons and keep right on jailin’..

    Another couple of facts.. up to 50% of inmates have some degree of mental illness, alcohol and non cannibis drugs are part of 50% of crime, cannabis 27%.

    One further observation from me.. where did that first time crim build up his crime dossier to such an extent he had to be sent to prison? Right there at home with his whanau, friends and victims.. and we want to take him out of prison to go back to that comfortable learning environment?

    I say that we have a $9 billion problem to go with all those victims and we need to spend money to put the crooks in a purpose built detention centre where his mental illness and drug/alcohol problems are treated. That way we spare his victims from early and unrepentent release with his problems still untreated and we are at least trying to address his basic problems.

    I might add that if we can’t fix his problems then I am very relaxed in institutionalizing him forever.. same as we did/do for the insane.



  3. 17/07/2009 15:49

    Hey Colin, do you have a link? I’d be interested to read it. I’ve only had an MSM article to quote from, and they are known for being completely useless at reporting information in a meaningful way (which puts the blame more on them than the reaction to what they say, IMHO). Trying to get on to Guy’s article times out for me at the moment.

    And I don’t know why you are so critical of the “hang em high brigade”. They merely say such things to provoke discussion….it’s not what they say we should criticise, but simply recognise that it brings an important issue to the forefront, just like the Chief Justice’s clever intentions.


  4. 17/07/2009 15:43

    Sure, lets think about them, but it’s a cop out to abuse the hang-em high brigade by ignoring her somewhat idiotic suggestions. You’re giving her the benefit of the doubt for raising the debate. Would you take the same measured approach as if she said “Bring back capital punishment on any sentence over 5 years to clear the prisons.”

    “Oh yes” you might say, all nicely polite and measured. “Perhaps not a brilliant idea, but definitely worth raising the issue. Let’s now talk about letting them go…”

    Nup. Her suggestion of “forgiving” criminals and letting them out is rather stupid. Certainly removes the need for a judge and indeed a court. Far more sensible to review future sentencing options and so forth. But she didn’t say that, did she?


  5. Colin Lucas permalink
    17/07/2009 15:09

    Having read the speech, my view it was designed to provoke informed discussion by all stakeholders. It seems to be happening, but as you note you have to ignore that white noise created by McVicar et al to hear it.


    • 17/07/2009 15:50

      Rats, wrong button – read my reply to my own comment, and slide it down one!


    • 17/07/2009 15:59

      Don’t worry, found another link to it. Will digest it and provide some further commentary later. I can at least confirm that she is a moon-bat as far as the amnesty idea goes. You grant a pardon for wrongful imprisonment, not being guilty but getting off because the jail is full.

      It could be argued that some crimes can be reassessed as having punishments other than jail, and those people transferred to the “new” terms opf sentence, fine. But let off without penalty? You only grant forgiveness when they are sorry for what they have done.

      Some people in jail on “minor” crimes are only there because they have such a huge list of minor crimes that this left the judge no other option. You’ll get people killed releasing some-one who was “simply” driving without a license. Never mind, it was the 15th time, and they were only caught because they crashed in a drunken stupor.


    • 17/07/2009 16:13

      By all stakeholders — that including victims and future victims, who McVicar et al speak for. You have to excuse their white noise, they feel they have a stake in this matter…

      …sure, that’s not to say when they’ve calmed down there can be some constructive dialog, but expecting them to be calm from the outset is as typical the attitude in ignoring the issues of community safety over the “rights” to rehabilitation.

      I agree with Dame Sian in that the number of prisoners could be seen as a measurement of failure for our community, and our society. Letting prisoners off the hook doesn’t change that. Believing people made bad will be made good without genuine rehabilitation will not change that, and will probably make things worse.

      We’ve had many many years to “fix” society and the fixes the liberal left continue to install seem to have made things worse. You don’t let the prisoners out to fix this, you fix it and check to see it’s working by counting the prisoners…


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