Criminal justice

What a good idea, criminal bludgers to have their benefits docked

Mark Mitchell has proposed that criminal bludgers have their benefits docked if they don’t comply with court orders.

Concerns have been raised about a new bill that could see benefit payments cut for offenders who breach their community sentences.

Parliament’s Social Services Committee is currently calling for public submissions on the the Social Security Amendment Bill, which was put forward by National MP Mark Mitchell.

The bill would allow Corrections to have benefit payments for offenders stopped if they continued to disregard written warnings to comply with their community sentences.

Offenders serving community sentences are on probation, which means they are able to serve their sentences in the community but with restrictions on their movements.

Some organisations are worried about the impact the bill could have, and have questioned if it will only drive offenders to re-offend.

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Accessory jailed for her role in the coverup of brutal murder

Ben Herkt PHOTO/CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Ben Bosch Herkt     Photo/Chris McKeen/FAIRFAX NZ

A WOMAN involved in trying to cover up the brutal murder of an Auckland man a year ago has been sentenced to just eight months behind bars.

Aileen Chrisandra Tito appeared last week in the High Court at Auckland on charges of being an accessory after the fact of wounding with intent to injure – an offence that carries a maximum penalty of three-years-and-six-months imprisonment.

Tito was charged in connection with the murder of Matthew Greenslade, who was killed in November 2014 following a dispute over a box of Cody’s.

Greenslade was stabbed multiple times after he threw an empty bourbon carton at his killer, 39-year-old Ben Bosch Herkt.

The victim sustained stab wounds to the back of the head, base of the neck and a seven-centimetre cut along the scalp. The fatal blow went through the upper left abdomen, cutting the liver and piercing the heart.    Read more »

40 years for the War on Drugs…total failure

We have spent forty years on the ‘War on Drugs’ in this country, and not a single positive outcome has occurred.

It is the same around the world and is leading countries to look at alternatives. Portugal is a classic example, that shows that contrary to the nay-sayers, decriminalisation can actually work in addressing the harm of drugs.

So, in New Zealand people are now having to re-think our approach…the problem though is just a single, old fashioned old fool can hold up any real progress.

Drug law reform. Is there any better example of a heart versus head issue? Logic and rationality tells you that the system does not work, that drugs are a medical issue not a criminal one. But your gut says lock all the junkies and potheads up.

It is Ross Bell’s job to wrestle with these dilemmas. For 11 years he has been chief executive of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, a charitable trust charged with preventing and reducing harms caused by drug use.

The irony is that decriminalisation of drugs can reduce harms more effectively than prohibition. This is where the Drug Foundation now finds itself. Bell’s current angle is that our drug law turns 40 this year and is showing its age. Time for an overhaul.

The Misuse of Drugs Act became law in 1975, during the last days of Bill Rowling’s Labour government. It was that long ago, a time of dancing cossacks, disco and Fleetwood Mac. The big drug scares were heroin and LSD.

During the parliamentary debate, Rowling-era police minister Michael Connelly aired the then-fashionable view that cannabis was a gateway drug. Pot smokers would naturally “graduate” to harder drugs.

But New Zealand was really being a follower and getting behind the United States, Bell says. President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1971. The United Nations agreed on a new drugs treaty in the same year. New Zealand had to keep up.   Read more »

Cry Baby of the Week aka Pimping the Criminals

Our cry baby of the week is an allegedly former recidivist shop-lifter who can’t go anywhere because shopkeepers won’t have her in the store…and somehow the retailers are being nasty.

Ursula Allen was being watched – and she knew it.

She’d walked into a large Christchurch department store with crime on her mind. Moments later the convicted shoplifter was tapped on the shoulder.

The game was up. Her face was known. Store security asked her to leave. And it finally dawned on her that her past had caught up with her.

A photo of her face was one of 15 on a police list of Christchurch’s most notorious shoplifters. The list shows active offenders throughout Canterbury from November 2014 and other known and suspected shoplifters.

The list, distributed to several Christchurch retailers, includes a former Christchurch gang leader. Shop owners say it is an important crime fighting tool.

Allen first became aware she was on the list after a trip to The Warehouse to buy Christmas presents. A staff member confronted Allen and asked her to leave, “due to my past.”

“She just came up to me and knew me.”

She said the experience was, “humiliating”, and does not think she deserves to be on the list alongside her 20-year-old daughter Ngaroma Baker who was released from prison last week, after spending two months inside for shoplifting.

“What I saw her doing was what I did when I was at that age after my grandmother died,” said Allen.

“I had no-one, so this is what she did, it was all for food and clothing to survive.”

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Another violent criminal behind bars with a strike on the record

The opposition love criminals, they support them.

Why do I say that, well, it’s easy, they are soft on crime and opposed the three strikes law.

The latest example of scumbag thugs who should be permanently in jail but aren’t has recently played out in the courts.

The Sensible Sentencing trust explains:

A recent Christchurch case reminds us all what a wonderfully effective and discriminating tool the “three strikes” law promoted by Sensible Sentencing Trust, and passed into law in 2010 by the then National – ACT government is proving to be.

After a criminal career comprising 45 previous convictions – nine of them for violence – a Judge has finally put Shane Archbold behind bars for 5 1/2 years, and given him a “three strikes” warning for an aggravated burglary  during which Archold told the victim he was going to “take his eye out” with a tyre iron.

“This guy is an excellent example of why ‘three strikes’ was so sorely needed” said Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar.

“During his 45 conviction criminal career – a quarter of which were for violence – this man has no doubt served a number of prison sentences and been through the revolving door  at the front of the prison that was the criminal justice system. Were it not for three strikes,  at age 36 he could easily have gone on to rack up another 45 convictions, and continued to be let out on parole part way through each pathetic sentence” McVicar said.   Read more »

Protect that Child and ignore the wombles

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has launched a campaign about name suppression and flown Derryn Hinch over to speak about the travesty that is name suppression.

I may have been convicted and in the process changed the law, but the law changed put through by Simon Power were small and more interested in stopping people like me rather than actually tightening up on suppression orders.

Derryn Hinch has gone to jail for opposing suppression orders.

Derryn Hinch wants to be able to turn on his mobile phone and see the names of all sex offenders in the neighbourhood.

The outspoken Taranaki-born broadcaster, who now leads a campaign for a public sex offenders register in Australia, has come home to launch a pre-election campaign by the Sensible Sentencing Trust to get a similar register in New Zealand.

He will take part in a trust-organised debate tomorrow against liberals Dr Gwenda Willis and Kim Workman.

Kim Workman is one of those wombles who means well but is a hopeless crim hugger that the media uses all the time to promote their crim hugging stance.

Stephen Franks gives him a right good ticking off in his latest blog post.

On Sunday afternoon I’ll be in Auckland to chair a public discussion of  the secrecy that justice insiders defend so tenaciously. Derryn Hinch is the main speaker. He’s endured prison to stand up for open courts and freedom of speech.

Doing my homework, I’ve been reminded of the intellectual blindness engendered by the beliefs of well meaning people.  Kim Workman is a good man. He writes thoughtfully on his blog “Smart on Crime”. The post prompted by the absurd discharge of the Maori prince is worth reading by anyone who needs to understand the criminal justice establishment. They need to feel morally superior (compassion is their claim) over the rest of us, but they acknowledge the need also for research on their side.

So how do they end up so far from reality? This well written piece shows us. The reasoning is respectable so far as it goes, but it stops well before it gets anywhere near the main issues. It misses the same point as is missed by the justice insiders generally.

It measures everything according to its potential to redeem the offender. Redemption is worth trying if it does not prejudice more necessary purposes. But the fate of particular offenders is trivial, when the proper measure of a justice system, indeed any social mechanism for inculcating and upholding norm observance, is the extent of offending overall. Recidivism rates may affect offending rates, but they are much less important than rates of recruitment to offending.

Most serial offenders and hardened criminals will never be redeemed. I’d like to see Kim Workman offer to take in some of these scum into his own home if he thinks they can be redeemed.

I suspect he’d baulk at that suggestion.

Almost all cultures rely heavily on reputation mechanisms to discourage the establishment of such patterns. They commonly involve exacting a price over the long term from individuals, their families, and communities that harbour them. They also commonly provide well recognised paths to discharge the shame burden, to demonstrate remorse. As Kim Workman acknowledges, Maori norm enforcement relied heavily on whakaama – shame. What he does not go on to acknowledge was the extent to which shame mechanisms need practical impacts and ‘stigmatization’. They depend on tangible consequences to shameful behaviour. Whakaama (shame) becomes irrelevant and toothless when it is separated from the consequences, when the forgiveness carrots are poured out in sackloads without any sticks of  ritual humiliation, group responsibility and formulaic depredaton (muru and utu)..

But well meaning ‘sickly white liberals’ (in Winston Peters’ memorable words) have gutted our law of its links with reputation sanctions. They’ve left the law struggling ineffectually to rely on formal punishments alone.

So Mr Workman, when you deplore the powerful trend toward more severity in punishments, when you rail against the lack of recognition of the truth that speed and certainty of consequence are much more important than severity in deterrence, take a look at your own responsibility. You’ve helped eliminate from our law the most powerful and speedy social sanctions of all at the critical time (in application to young people).

Rethinking Justice applauds the secrecy of our youth courts. You defend our disgraceful name suppression law. You supported the Clean Slate law. And in your blog you whine about the ordinary peoples’ rejection of the expert demand that criminal justice policy be left to experts. You exemplify the establishment’s comprehensive rejection of the reputation based natural social sanctions.

You genuinely believe you have research and reason on your side, but it is fatally limited. Your post on Paki takes the shame analysis no further than the effect of shame on rehabilitation prospects. Shame may inhibit rehabilitation for offenders outside a community with high social cohesion (i.e. where the social sanctions are presumably severe, and scope for collective redemptive support). But where is the consciousness of its importance to offending rates?

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More deaths by scum on bail

Today we find out that we have had yet more murders allegedly committed by people who were already on bail for other crimes.

So in other words they essentially won’t get punished for the first crime/crimes as undoubtedly they will get concurrent sentences from the liberal panty-waist judges that let them out on bail in the first place.

Judges need to use the following terms – ‘remanded in custody’ and ‘to be served consecutively’ more frequently.

Victim of alleged family violence dies – NZ Herald News

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Why not?

Why this woman isn’t in the slammer defies belief. Obviously a liberal panty-waist judge thought hugs and cuddles would be best:

A mother has escaped a prison sentence for an “orchestrated campaign of abuse and neglect” against her preschool-age child.

The 24-year-old Far North woman appeared for sentencing in Kaitaia District Court last week on two representative charges of assaulting a child.

The court heard that the charges related to two specific periods of offending, when the victim was two. During the first, of five months, his mother would strike him on the head with an open hand on a daily basis, the blows being accompanied by verbal abuse. At least two or three times a week she would push him with enough force to make him fall over.

He never received three proper meals a day, his diet consisting of “food such as chips and biscuits,” and on a daily basis would get himself out of bed in the morning and entertain himself while his mother remained in bed. It was often left to the defendant’s flatmate to feed and dress the child.

A second series of assaults over a six-week period included the defendant striking the child around the head and arms with a clenched fist, and pushing him with sufficient force to knock him to the ground. Again the child was addressed in highly derogatory terms.

This woman is unfit to be even described as a mother. The Judge is just pathetic:

Judge Davis said the woman had offended against one of society’s most vulnerable members over a “reasonably prolonged” period of time.

The child was now in his grandmother’s care, Ms Murray added. The defendant now had supervised contact with the child, and had not breached that arrangement.

The grandmother told the court that the child was now happy and thriving.

Judge Davis finally accepted that the required punitive element of sentencing could be achieved without imprisonment, but told the defendant that those who chose to abuse children would not receive sympathy from his court.

“This was significant abuse and a breach of trust against someone who relied on you for their day to day needs,” he said.

“This child suffered an orchestrated campaign of abuse and neglect.”

The pre-sentence report had cited the defendant’s lifestyle, associates, drug use and propensity for violence as factors behind her offending, but Judge Davis noted that she had made some progress in her life, including the recent gaining of employment.

What did she have to do to get sent to prison, kill the kid?

And their point is what?

Liberal panty-waists are carping that our three strikes law will fill up our prisons, like that is a bad thing.

A man charged with his “third strike” has no incentive to plead guilty and could subject his alleged victim to a needless trial, a legal expert says.

Under the three strikes legislation, an offender must be sentenced to the maximum sentence without parole regardless of their plea.

The Herald on Sunday revealed last week a 20-year-old from Wellington is believed to be the first to be charged with his third strike.

President of the Criminal Bar Association, Tony Bouchier, said: “There is no discount for early guilty pleas, no discount for remorse, it’s just black and white.

“We are simply going to fill our prisons with people who are required to do very long terms of imprisonment.”

Justice Minister Judith Collins said legislators were aware of this when they passed the bill in 2010.

“You are talking about people who are rapists, murderers, very serious recidivist offenders. who by the third strike have been given every chance possible. The thought that they care one scrap about the victims is slightly naive.”

Presumably Tony Bouchier wants rapists, murderers and serious recidivist offenders walking free on our streets rather than incarcerated. Perhaps he should retire…we are over liberal panty-waist crime hugger like him.

Cops Matter

Oxford University Press Blog

Franklin Zimring explains how New York City successfully fought crime:

First of all, cops matter. For at least a generation, the conventional wisdom in American criminal justice doubted the ability of urban police to make a significant or sustained dent in urban crime. The details on cost-effectiveness and best tactics have yet to be established, but investments in policing apparently carry at least as much promise as investments in other branches of crime control in the U.S.

Two other important lessons are that reducing crime does not require reducing the use of drugs or sending massive numbers of people to jail. Incidentally, the difference between New York’s incarceration trends and those of the rest of the nation—and the money that the city and state governments avoided pouring into the correctional business—has more than paid for the city’s expanded police force.

There are costs…and other benefits that are the flip side of the same coin:

Unfortunately, New York’s successes in crime control have come at a cost, and that cost was spread unevenly over the city’s neighborhoods and ethnic populations. Police aggressiveness is a very regressive tax: the street stops, bullying and pretext-based arrests fall disproportionately on young men of color in their own neighborhoods, as well as in other parts of the city where they may venture. But the benefits of reduced crime also disproportionately favor the poor—ironically, the same largely dark-skinned young males who suffer most from police aggression now have lower death rates from violence and lower rates of going to prison than in other cities. We do not yet know whether or how much these benefits depend on extra police aggression.

Interesting that the benefits of reduced crime disproportionately favor the poor…then again when you think about it criminals are lazy and so prey mainly on their own.