Call for Simon Power to show some sense
Our prison population will soon be more than 9000, and if the loonies have their way, it will keep climbing.
The lot who carry on about crime argue – wrongly – that the way to deal with it is to be tougher on criminals irrespective of the offence.
So we end up with people who believe they are sensible citizens but who are in fact advocating senseless sentencing.
The truth is that a large number of the people behind bars today are no threat to society.
They’ve almost certainly stuffed up and deserve to cop a penalty, but they’re not menacing mongrels who pose a threat to us.
They simply shouldn’t be in prison.
There’s another truth the senseless sentencing mob should face up to. Many dangerous criminals get more dangerous the longer they stay in prisons that make no attempt at rehabilitation.
Their experiences inside make them incapable of coping in the outside world.
And the scumbag company they have as inmates isn’t inclined to make them wholesome citizens either.
Our politicians and voters must be half-witted if they think the present system – or a tougher one – is the way to deal with criminals.
It’s clear we need to come up with a number of changes.
That’s why it was heartening to hear Dame Sian Elias suggesting that we should consider, among other things, the possibility of amnesties for some of our harmless crims.
I am sure our chief justice doesn’t want to free those who have murdered and raped, but those in jail for offences like not paying parking fines could surely be put to better use in our communities.
She is exactly the sort of person who should be taking part in any discussion about fixing a penal system that blights our society.
Her experience as a lawyer and judge, her brains and well-deserved reputation as a thoughtful, principled, and thoroughly decent leader of the judiciary deserve respect.
Yet Justice Minister Simon Power says she had no business making her observations.
And worse, Prime Minister John Key echoed those sentiments.
What do they want? The well-informed to shut up, and the clueless to dominate the debate?
We’ve had too much of that.
Let’s hear from those who actually know something.