Call for Si­mon Power to show some sense

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

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.

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