Govt considering big shake up to justice system

Drive 12/07/2018

Justice Minister Andrew Little has started the process of reform to New Zealand's criminal justice system - a working group and a summit.

At the announcement on Thursday, Mr Little said: “It's about "having the guts to look honestly at our slide towards an American-style justice system.”

An advisory group, the Safe and Effective Justice Programme Advisory Group – Te Uepū Hāpai i te Ora, will work with justice sector agencies on "a prudent and realistic scope" of change to the criminal justice system.

The issue of crime and justice is setting up to be a major political battleground. The group has already been labelled a PR exercise by the Opposition. 

Over two days in August the group, chaired by former National Party MP Chester Borrows, along with frontline justice workers, victims’ advocates and academics will consider changes to policy.

Mr Little told RadioLIVE Drive: “Nobody wants to see those who commit violent crime either going unpunished or undergoing whatever change that needs to happen, if it can happen, to reform their ways.

“But equally, nobody wants to see a total criminal justice system that perpetually locks people up, lets them out and then watches them reoffend again,” he said.

Mr Little says 60 percent of people released from jail are reconvicted within two years.

“That’s not success – that’s failure. So we have to change that.”

Former National MP Chester Borrows told RadioLIVE’s Wendyl Nissen that he thinks that politics and media sensationalism has historically gotten in the way of justice reform.

"Politicians haven't been very good at educating the public on good policy in lots of areas and justice is just one of them.

"Good policy should not come from one-off incidents, it should not be 'significant event based'. It should be well reasoned and quite dispassionate."

Listen to the full interview with Andrew Little above.

Drive with Ryan Bridge and Lisa Owen, 3pm - 6pm Weekdays and streaming live on'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.