Guest Post – Rebutting Rudman

David Garrett has sent in a guest post to rebut Brian Rudman. Apparently the NZ Herald prefers running opinion pieces from Labour hacks like Bryan Gould – Britain’s answer to Bill Rowling. They refused to look at a rebuttal of Rudman’s crim hugging whine.

A watchtower at the northeastern corner of Mou...

In a recent Herald article Brian Rudman writes – utterly predictably – that imprisonment does nothing to reduce crime, and we should not follow what he calls  the “…bray of the ‘lock ’em up’ lobby.” About the only surprise in his piece is the admission that New Zealand doesn’t after all have “the second highest imprisonment rate in the world” as is  claimed ad nauseum, by those on the left  but  is in fact fifth in the OECD.

Leaving aside that the imprisonment rate in a population is meaningless unless one also considers the offending  rate in that same population, Rudman’s conclusion is simply not supported by the evidence from overseas jurisdictions, particularly the United States. Nor is it consistent with an emerging trend here.

It is well known that  crime rates have plummeted in New York State since the introduction of  so called “broken windows” policing in the early 1990’s. Homicides in New York City fell from a high of 1,946 in 1993, to 673 by the turn of century – a  decline of  more than 60%. What is less well known is that as well as “broken windows” policing, New York also introduced “sentence enhancement” laws,  of which New Zealand’s “three strikes” law is a variant.

In California – the home of “three strikes” – the decline in  crime has been second only to New York’s, with violent crime reducing by 43% during the decade after the introduction of “three strikes” in 1994. Although the rate of decline has since leveled off, crime rates in California  remain about half what they were at their peak in 1991.

On the left, there has always been the greatest reluctance to ascribe any reduction in crime rates to more punitive policies. As the late Dennis Dutton once observed, the precipitate decline in homicide and crime generally  in New York prompted a feverish search by left wing academics across the country to find the “real” explanation – any explanation would do – because it couldn’t possibly be the result of more intense policing and longer prison sentences. Could it?

On this subject as on  others, left wing commentators such as Rudman have no hesitation in massaging data, or selectively quoting from scholarly works. The best example is the theory promulgated by economist Steven Levitt –  in ‘Freakonomics’ and elsewhere  – that more readily available abortions from the mid 1970’s onwards led to a drop in crime twenty years later  According to Levitt’s theory, children of the poor –  who are supposedly  more crime prone -were aborted instead of growing up to be the next generation of criminals.

Aside from the huge holes in that thesis itself, what those who quote Levitt  never  say is he identifies six factors which in his view explain the drop in US crime over the last 25 years. The sixth and  least effective, says Levitt, is more readily available abortions. The top two, in order of effectiveness,  are more comprehensive ‘community’ type policing, and more punitive sentencing laws.

When New Zealand’s “three strikes”  was passing through parliament, the Howard League for penal reform toured a Californian prison chaplain through New Zealand to talk up the iniquities of the Californian law – notwithstanding that New Zealand’s version is utterly different, and under it the famous “locked up for life for stealing a   chocolate bar ” simply cannot happen.

Columnists such as Mr Rudman breathlessly reported the view of Mr Kim Workman, once head of prisons  before he lost his job following a disastrous rehabilitation program he designed  called He Ara Hou was abandoned in the mid 1990’s following its spectacular failure. Mr Workman confidently predicted that if “three strikes” was enacted, the prison population would triple in two years, assaults on prison officers and policemen would increase sharply, and if there was any effect on offending at all, it would likely increase.

Almost two years later the  reality  has been very different. Prior to Christmas, Justice Minister Collins announced that the prison muster per head of population  had fallen for the  first time since the 1930’s. Recently it was announced that a new prison at Wiri would be built after all, after serious consideration was given to abandoning it because of falling prisoner numbers.

For those willing to examine the evidence honestly, and without ideological bias, the reasons for this change are clear. In 2010, the police quietly adopted a New Zealand style version of “broken windows” in Manukau, the country’s most crime ridden district. Offenders coming before the courts for serious violent “strike” offences – more than 900 thus far – are now warned that if they continue to so offend they will spend much longer in jail than earlier in their criminal career.

What is happening in New Zealand mirrors what happened in New York twenty years ago, whether Rudman  acknowledges it or not. A combination of more effective policing and more punitive sentencing has led to a decline in crime. If we do not lose our nerve, that decline will continue. The worst thing we could possibly do would be to repeal “three strikes” – as Labour has pledged to do.

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  • Auto_immune

    At the very least, the policy needs more time to prove itself over the long-term.  If any changes are to occur, they should be based on evidence, not ideology. 

  • well..ya garrett…

    ..there is one international-trend/fact that blows yr little bubble ‘o spin right  out of the

    ..that is the serious drop in crime/offending all over the world..

    ..with ‘experts’ puzzled by the cause..

    ..(my pet theory is that the population-bubble of the boomers has passed thru..

    ..and the much larger group of crims in that large-population age-group..

    ..are now old and tired…and aren’t offending any more..)

    ..but for you to try and spin our local echo of this (puzzling) international trend.. just unmitigated horseshit…?

    ..all spun out of gossamer..

    [email protected] 


    • Ronnie Chow

        “.with ‘experts’ puzzled by the cause.”  That is the category you are in ,Ure , an expert in quotation marks . A nobody . Nil . Nada . Wasted space .

  • In Vino Veritas

    I am in agreement with Garrett about the misuse of OECD numbers by the left wingers. They often throw information about taxation about that is pretty much made up. Phillip Ure is one person who is constantly sucked in by these untruths.

    Things like tougher prison sentences are a bit like National Standards to the Left. They would far prefer to continue on with systems that have failed repeatedly than make change, since change might offend minority do-gooders and sooks.

    • The problem with any talk of tougher prison sentences is it just moves the maximum. We should be giving minimum lengths of penalty. Judges at present seem to look at the max offered by the law and then start deducting for all sorts of nebulous”reasons”.

    • Xlsports

      Three strikes etc IS itself only an expansion of a failed process, as are tougher sentences. The “left” do not suggest no consequences as the ” right” like to say but rather lets attack the problem at the top of the cliff not just the bottom. I note garrett didnt quote recidivist figures

      • In Vino Veritas

        sports, as with all left wingers, you appear to believe that you can prevent criminals from becoming criminals by heaping more money on them. We currently have 40 odd percent of NZ households that are net beneficiaries and crime is still a problem. Therefore, your solution is to hand over even more money, resdistributing until everyone is equally miserable and prepared to steal to get what they want. The solution to that is to increase police and punish the wrongdoers more harshly (see communist Russia and China).
        This begs the question why the increased punishment doesnt start now, whilst a good proportion of the population are not miserable?

      •  So to summarize we should just drop the serious offenders off of a nearby cliff?

        Best idea I’ve heard in ages.

  • How many countries are there in the OECD anyway – fifth is still bloody atrocious….

    • Xlsports

      Did i read it accurately that mr garrett said ” examine the evidnce honestly”. Id rather not be guided on criminal rehab or punishment by someone who worked very hard to cover up his own. Now if mr garrett volunteered to serve time for his crimes then he might have some credibilty. There is evidence/opinion on both sides of this one. Anyone who suggests its simple and black and white does not pass the credibility test imo

    •  30+ from memory..

      [email protected]

      • In Vino Veritas

        Given that you seem to quote their statistics on a regular basis Phillip, I would have thought you’d at least know there are 34.

  • David Garrett

    Well XI  Sports, for the record, I did nothing to “cover up” the passport fraud of 28 years ago. When I got the damned thing I destroyed it – since I had no use for it –  and hoped for the best. It emerged after 20 years  because  Israeli spies tried to pull the same trick in 2004. The police then decided to check ALL passports issued in the 20th century against death records. Or are you referring to the application for name suppression? If so, it was just that; an application. If the Judge didn’t think it warranted, he wouldn’t have given it to me. Perhaps you should read his judgment some time. Call your mate Mickey Savage…he’ll have a copy.

    •  how about responding to that international-crime-drop-question..? garrett.. i said…it shows yr claims to be complete rubbish..

      ..spin of the worst/most dishonest sort…

      ..bullshit to destroy peoples lives…

      ..and all ‘cos of somewarped punishment-gene you have.. try to answer the question..

      ..(and i am/come armed with a veritable arsenal of facts/ careful how you

      [email protected]

      • Ronnie Chow

         Ure , you throw something you’ve just read at another person as if you own the fact and it is gospel . ‘International’ for a start includes failed states where nothing gets measured . Baby boomers in Somalia? . Recidivism in Haiti?.
          If you were as smart as you think you are you would realize  that most crime goes unreported and therefore will not feature in statistics .

    • Xlsports

      David when did you hand yourself in for the passport fraud. Any time prior to that you were hiding or covering it up, including while preaching how other criminals should be treated

      • Tom

        I’m calling BS Xl. Have you never committed a crime? Any at all? Even ones like, maybe, speeding, smoked and passed a joint at a party, had three glasses not two and drove home, etc etc.

        Next question: Ever handed yourself in? 

        Didn’t think so…

  • Richard B.

    Tougher sentnces is only part of the solution.

    Someone should introduce a bill to give the Police greater powers…..  nekminit…..

    If the cops hadn’t fucked up in the Ureweras, gathering evidence that later had to be excluded from the case, the Urewera Fuckwit 4 would be behind bars now where they belong.
    Along with the balance of the original 17 arrested.

    Our crime numbers SHOULD be increasing, as we arrest all the crims out there who get off on “technicalities”.
    Then, in a few years time when all these arseholes are safely locked away, the crime figures would come down naturally.

    • so why are they coming down anyway..?..richard b…?

      ..everywhere..? to engage yr brain/explain on that one..?

      ..i know it flies in the face of yr contentions..

      ..facts are annoying like that..

      [email protected]

      • Salacious T Crumb

        Do you think there is any validity in the “reported crime” aspect to the stats Phil?

        I suspect that there is a significant proportion of crime that goes unreported in this country. The reason? The resolution rate and ridiculously soft treatment metted out by the judiciary. If the minor stuff is dealt with, the escalation to more serious offences is less likely to occur.

        I agree to a point with your summation on the age aspect to incarcaration but I am not convinced on the crime drop angle.

        Ask any cop on the beat and they will tell you that they have a good idea on those responsible for a majority of the crimes committed in their region – deal with them and the reported rates drop. How do you deal with them? Not through weak penalties. Accountability for actions is what society rightly demands, and the more accountable, the less incentive to offend.

      • Richard B.

        Good question Phil of Urea
        Here goes…..
        According to a recent study conducted by Dr Ipha Kwidu from the National Taiwan University, it was shown to prove that crime rates are directly related to the number of criminals.
        It was a large study but I will try and paraphrase it for you.
        He discovered, what some are now calling the Kwidu affect, that as more criminals are convicted, there are others left behind to carry on their activity in what he called the “Crime Vortex”.
        Basically, what happens is survival of the fittest in a way.
        His findings were that the smarter the criminal, the less likely they would be caught. The reverse being, the dumber you are, the more likely you are to be caught.
        With those on the outside being smarter, they can commit more crime, in clever ways, and be less likely to be caught.
        The study also found that the crimes of these clever criminals, although more are committed, are generally reported less.
        I hope I have explained the facts enough for you?

  • jay cee

     if locking people up stopped crime the problem would be solved pronto. problem is people do not think of the consequences of their actions hence education eiher in the home or at school
    would be the way to go as stated above better a fence at the top of the cliff.
     mr garrett is hardly a poster boy for the get tough on crime argument as reading his post he doesn’t seem to be ackowledging any wrong doing.
     the “technicalities” that alledged criminals get off on are the result of some shonky evidence gathering to make a charge stick.

    •  reply to chow/dick b./sal..

      i am not telling you i know why this phenomenom is happening..

      ..i am just alerting you to the existance of a unexplained major drop in crime..

      ..a phenomenom happeneing in many other countries as well..even ones with ‘doft-on-crime’-policies…

      ..they are all seeing that drop..

      ..(sigh..! those countries that report….)

      ..and the fact is that that fact makes garretts’ bullshit just that… can it not..?

      [email protected]

  • David Garrett

    God there are some dumb people out there…one acknowledges wrong doing by PLEADING GUILTY….I must stop responding to fools…naughty, naughty Garrett…

    •  but you should really respond to that international-drop is a fair/valid point..backed by stats etc…seriously proveable..

      ..whereas yr story requires more of a leap of faith mr garrett..?

      ..and each time you avoid answering just strengthens the case i am making..

      ..and makes yours look like what it do realise that..’s a simple question…

      ..but one that goes to the very core of the issue/case you are trying to

      ..why that international-drop..?

      ..where does that fit in yr lock-’em-up thesis..?

      [email protected]

      •  collins tried this same bullshit in parliament the other day…

        ..claiming it was all down to her/nact.. fair had me bouncing off the walls..

        ..that purler…

        .it also puzzles me that the opposition parties don’t call her on that..

        ..are they focus-group-terrified of appearing ‘soft on crime’..?

        ..w.t.f. is it stilling their tongues..?.

        [email protected]

      • Ronnie Chow

         ” international-drop question” Ure ? All countries ? Or some  countries , therefore not international at all ?
         Are the walls that you bounce of padded?

    • Xlsports

      name calling as part of a debate is an interesting tactic. refuge of the those who just know theyre always right. if self righteousness was a crime youd be on three striles.

      what does it cost per annum per prisoner? some posters here think putting more people away for longer doesnt cosr money.

    • Tom

      Ignore the animals..

  • captain Kidd

    He prob does not read your posts Phil,I know that I dont very often.Why the hell do you post like that?.It really does lookas though the weed has massed your mind.

    •  ys cap’n has ‘massed’ my brain…

      ..can’t you tell..?

      [email protected]

    • johnbronkhorst

      No Captain…it’s just filled the cavity where his brain should be!

  • tspoon

    I find the ‘broken windows’ concept somewhat troubling. Looked at from a different perspective, it could be seen as the practice of locking people up before they get the chance to do something bad, but without having done something (suitably) bad. I’m not really in favour of that trend, and don’t believe that any number of trivial crime A will necessarily always lead to a major crime B, even if it sometimes does. It seems to be an erosion of the principles of justice as developed by western society, although those principles are well eroded already, practically to the point of collapse.

    • David Garrett

       Tspoon: With respect, you dont understand what “broken windows” (or to give it its more “academic” name “zero tolerance policing” ZTP) is about. It is NOT about locking up people,  even more minor crimes. It IS about not ignoring “minor” crime – such as public urination, tagging, or even threatening behaviour among young males where no complaint is made.  Although you would think there is no logical reason such policing would in turn reduce serious crime, the fact is that despite the search by people like that fellow who writes in sentences with “whoar” and “eh?” every few words, there is no established causation between the precipitate drop in crime in New York and anything else which changed in the early 1990’s  except ZTP and sentence enhancement.

      As I point out in my post even that darling of the left  (at least on this issue) Steven Levitt is never  fully quoted. As I have said, he identifies six factors that have led to the drop in serious crime,  including the waning crack epidemic, and the “readily available abortions” theories  for which he is often quoted. The problem for the lefties is that the two most important factors according to Levitt are ZTP and longer sentences.

      • tspoon

        I didn’t say some of the things you’re attributing to me, or positing that I agree with. You say that I think there is no logical reason these policies would reduce crime, actually I acknowledge that they do reduce crime.
         But they do so by locking up ALL offenders for longer for smaller crimes, but only a proportion of those offenders may have actually gone on to more serious offending, leaving the others with disproportionate punishment for small offending.
         Theoretically you could reduce crime to nothing by locking everyone up. That doesn’t make it an idea worthy of pursuing. And with the ridiculous number of laws we have, practically everyone now is a crim one way or another.
         At the end of the day I’d sacrifice total security (which is an illusion anyway) to live in a society where the punishment fit the crime. 

  • johnbronkhorst

    We lock people up for 2 basic reasons…to punish them for taking some elses rights away from them (via crime) ie take away their right to freedom. and to protect the rest of society from having their rights taken from them by this criminal, for the duration of the sentance. The crime rate comes down when people start understanding that with rights come responsibilities, ie the responsibility not to impinge on others rights.

    • Xlsports

      rightly or wrongly people who consider they have nothing left to lose dont see prison as a deterrent. people who are drug addicts or high arent considering the consequences. as long as we all agree it isnt cheap to lock up more for longer we will have achieved something today.

      • mr garrett..various people have raised issues that challenge your post..

        ..your only response to all of them..

        ..has been whiny self-regarding moans about poor-you… that how you roll with ‘political-debate’ is it..?

        ..or is this just another forum/excuse for you to once again inflict those ‘whiny-moans’ on the rest of us…?

        btw..i saw at kiwiblog that you said that now you are no longer in parliament for act…

        ..that you actually support a strong public-broadcaster…(and goodonya..i think..)

        (the complete opposite of what you argued so passionately..for so long..

        ….as an actite…eh..?)

        ..while we are at it…any other ideological-u-turns you need to share with us..?

        [email protected]


      • Beenthere

        So your effectively wringing your hands at the solutions been discussed here.
        Your solution is…?

  • mr garrett..anyone reading this thread will clearly see that on/in it i ‘own’ you.. had may as well have run whimpering from the room…eh..?

    ..the ‘rebutting’ of you is so complete/ that ‘owning’-light..could you come by and do my lawns for me this afternoon..

    ..thank you..

    ..and bring your own mower…eh..?

    [email protected]

    • Waiuku

      Phillip you are behaving like a tool. i suggest you & Garrett get together & resolve your issues “mano a mano”. The world championships of soggy biscuit should suit you both.

      • how is asking garrett to respond to the irrefutable fact that just happens to prove him to be talking complete horseshit ..?

        ..being a ‘tool’..?

        ..he just has to answer/respond to the question..

        ..but he can’t..that much is obvious..

        ..he has no answer..

        ..maybe garrett thought it was just like the good old days of releasing press releases (again full of horseshit)…and never being called on them..never having to qualify them..?

        ..and facts be

        ..and if you mean i am a fact-check-tool…?


        [email protected]

  • Hagues

    Mr Garrett anyone reading this threat will clearly see you were prepared to back up your post and prepared to engage with those with enough sense to write in proper english. You have also shown great skill in ignoring the troll no matter how much baiting. Great work, by leaving him to talk to himself you owned him.

    • Xlsports

      If by engage you mean call people names that dont agree with him… He came to the right place to get slapped on the back for his opinions. This is not as cut and dried as he purports. Has he costed his strategy? Good on you for agreeing with what he writes but that doesnt mean he is right.

    •  there you are/go…you had a ‘there there’ from hagues…

      ..feeling better..?

      [email protected]

    • David Garrett

       Does ANYONE actually engage with the fool? I cant think of anything more pointless…eh?

      • Travdog

        If by “engage” you mean mock on a daily basis then yes. If you mean taking any notice of his cannabis fuelled dillusions then no.

        … that what you wanted/need to know/hear eh……?

      •  so all you have is insults..? lying/dissembling bastard..

        ..but most of all.. are the bloody ‘fool’…

        ..trying to claim that black is white..

        ..anyone with three braincells can see that you are talking absolute bullshit..

        ..would you like yr arse on a tray..?

        ,.or should i courier it too you…

        ..and make sure you bring yr own petrol when you do the

        ..and how is yr sat nite..?..hic..!

        ..yr a joke garrett…

        ..why don’t you just take yr comeuppance and slink away into a corner somewhere..? every other soiled politician..

        ..everyone has had more than enough of yr crap..

        [email protected]

  • you can not answer/call names all you like garrett..

    ..but the facts are quite simple..

    1)..there has been a serious drop in crime internationally..

    2) have the nerve to lie…claim it is down to the regressive penal policies you peddle..

    ..end of story…

    ..and you stand naked…yr lies in tatters…

    ..goodnight irene..

    [email protected]

  • Jester

    If anyone knows about crime it would certainly be the dad and son crime wave more commonly know as the Ure Clan.

    My 2 cents

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