Come on Amy – let’s scrap these restorative justice rules instead of waiting to see if they work

January 16, 2015

No, not all judges get it right – certainly not nearly as often as Alf would like.

But when it comes to who should decide when a cup of tea and a cosy chat is an appropriate way of sorting things out between victim and offender, we politicians seem to have seriously stuffed things up in June last year when we tinkered with the Sentencing Act.

We gave the job of deciding restorative justice is the way to go in a case to a touchy feely bunch of tossers who happen to be the providers of the restorative justice process that will be followed whenever someone pleads guilty.

It’s a bit like legislatively deciding that ice-cream vendors should decide when people should be required to eat ice-cream, then sending the bill to the taxpayers.

What a joke.

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Much ado about precious little

June 7, 2009

So how exactly is the reading public supposed to benefit from knowing an MP’s son has appeared in court charged with sexual violation.

According to the uninformative story from the Herald on Sunday, the teenager first appeared on May 13, three days after the alleged incident.

He has been charged under Section 128a (1) of the Crimes Act, which relates to the issue of consent to sexual activity.

He made his second appearance last Thursday and the case was adjourned until Tuesday.

The MP said an application to continue the suppression order would be filed on Tuesday, but declined to comment further.

The son’s lawyer also declined to comment and the detective in charge of the case would not be drawn on the accused or the charges.

“We are not going to pass on any information. I am not trying to be obstructive … the matter is before the courts.”

Indeed it is. And at this stage of proceedings, the reporter has been obliged to be so sparse with information, the story was better biffed in the newsroom rubbish bin than headlined in the SoH.

We don’t know the name of the accused, the exact nature of the allegations against him or the circumstances in which an offence is supposed to have been committed, where the alleged offence happened, where the charge is being heard, whether the accused is at the age 13 end of the teenage scale, or a more mature 19…

And so on.

Chances are the gossip-happy newspaper wouldn’t have bothered with the matter at all, if it weren’t for the fact the accused lad has an MP as a parent and it could sneak “MP” into a headline.

The unnamed MP is now an invidious position. He or she obviously wants the suppression order to be continued, but other MPs will want it lifted to take the heat off their teenage sons – all of whom have come under suspicion.

It’s bloody shabby journalism.

UPDATE: There’s a similar (but even briefer) report about bugger all at Stuff.

Making “life” a long stretch

February 18, 2009

Simon Power has been a busy Minister. He took off his Commerce hat today, after introducing the Securities Disclosure and Financial Advisers Amendment Bill, and put on his Justice hat. Then he introduced legislation that will remove parole eligibility for the worst repeat violent offenders and those convicted of the worst murders.

More specifically, it will ensure that crims who re-offend for a third time and who would otherwise receive a jail term of at least five years will automatically be banged up for “life”, with 25 years non-parole.

“New Zealanders have the right to live without fear or threat of harm from murderers and other violent offenders,” Power said, a sentiment that goes down well with voters in Alf’s neck of the woods.

His media statement explains –

Under the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill, offenders sentenced to five years or more for a violent or sex offence will not be eligible for parole if they have previously received a sentence of five years or more for this type of offending. If they are convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, they will serve the sentence in full and will not be eligible for parole.

“This bill accommodates the parole policies of both the National and ACT parties, and fulfills the National Government’s confidence and supply agreement with the ACT party in this regard,” Mr Power said.

Under existing legislation, when an offender is sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, the court must impose a minimum term of at least 10 years.

The Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill will also give courts the option of sentencing the worst murderers to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole – if no minimum term would be sufficient to mark the seriousness of the case.