Victims rights not Victims wrongs
More say for victims proposed
Victims will be able to have more of a say in court and will be told when offenders are granted bail or breach release conditions, under new Government measures announced today.
I am glad that victims of crime will be able to express in their own raw words how the experience of being wronged by someone found guilty of their crime has impacted them. It is right and proper that they have the full expanse of their expression on record, it is important for the victim, it is important to the offender, it is important to our sense of collective justice that such expression is uncensored.
In the attempt to sterilize the Court room into the pure realm of objective law, rules limiting the vernacular of those aggrieved for the dignity of those found guilty doesn't sit well with our sense of justice. Those done wrong should be able to tell the guilty exactly how they feel about how they've been hurt by their actions. Such interaction satisfies our collective sense of fairness, indeed the support offered to victims of crime I think should expand to their welfare as well.
We should enable victims of crime to appear during the Court process by covering their transport costs as well as better access to publicly funded counselling. I think victims of crime deserve our compassion, sympathy and support, but to allow the fear and anger victims of crime feel to set the tone of public and political debate over punishment is the utterly wrong influence to decide public policy by.
Anger and fear tend to lead to hate and hate as a social policy is not something most progressive democracy's tend to strive for.
When I read the lost report from Corrections that showed the parole conditions of the 150 most serious offenders in the country in 2008, I wrote about the inevitability I felt reading through all the notes of some of the ticking timebombs our parole board were releasing into some of our weakest communities.
Our righteous anger at crime has been whipped up by talkback reactionary Sensible Sentencing lynch mobs feed by a ‘if-it-bleeds-it-leads’ ratings addicted media creating a level of public debate on punishment that foams and brays with such hatred that it has warped public policy to levels that make NZ one of the most imprisoned societies on the planet.
There are repercussions to anger and hatred as public policy, and those ramifications are a prison system so under stress that violence and corruption have become the everyday and rehabilitation has been completely ignored so much so that the human beings who have served their time are now so damaged that they decompress with disastrous results on an unsuspecting and frightened public.
National has malformed this abomination even further by privatizing prisons, beside the ideological argument that the democratic state should be the only power that can hold you against your will as opposed to a corporation, this change of power structure makes profit the motivating factor as opposed to rehabilitation, more prisoners in more prisons for longer becomes the strategy for private prisons and it sees them get involved in public debate pushing for harder sentences by using victims pain and anguish to sell what becomes a very vested self interest.
Victims have the right to be treated with respect by our Justice system and we should endeavour for their voices to be heard, but to allow public policy to be warped by our anger and fear which is politically manipulated to appeal to our lesser angels for a corporate prison industry with no wider societal imperative other than to make a profit by imprisoning more and more New Zealanders, is not the answer.