New Zealand Law Society - What are your party’s key objectives in the justice portfolio and how do you plan to meet these objectives?

What are your party’s key objectives in the justice portfolio and how do you plan to meet these objectives?

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Conservative Party

Reducing truancy, taking the problem off police so they can deal with more serious crime by re-establishing truancy departments in schools. If we can keep young people in schools it will reduce youth crime.

A tougher stance on youth crime, especially for first-time offenders. This would include a major review/overhaul of the Children and Young Persons Act 1989. The consequences must outweigh the benefits, but when one simply gets dropped off home after committing a burglary, there is no disincentive, so crime continues.

The Conservative Party is also committed to lowering the age of offending for all charges, through the Youth Courts, to 12; require repeat offenders to attend 1 year at an age appropriate boot farm facility, and an overhaul of the youth court system, in order to address issues such as time frames for sentencing, increasing timeframes for Youth Court plans and increasing the maximum community services sentences.

The Conservative Party would like to see a three stage sentencing system in place.

  • The first third of a prisoner’s term would be served doing meaningful work in the prison. Any proceeds could be used for compensation where possible.
  • The middle third, after successful completion of the first stage, would be spent in meeting the prisoner’s educational needs at the level they are at to prepare them better for re-entry into society.
  • The final part of their term, after successfully completing stage two, would be an open prison, where the prisoner works in a normal job in the community but lives in a secure facility. Wages earned would pay for their keep and an allowance would be paid to the prisoner.
  • Upon release there would be close monitoring and follow-up to ensure rehabilitation is effective.

United Future

  • Preventative justice. Crime prevented through social investment and a fair society, free tertiary education and focus on housing and vital social services to ensure people have the best support we can give them.
  • Early intervention for youth. United Future strongly believes in the theory of having ‘a fence at the top of the cliff rather than an ambulance at the bottom’ when it comes to dealing with young offenders or at-risk youth.
  • Expand the Social Workers in Schools Programme beyond decile 1-3 schools.
  • Resource alternative education providers to work with at-risk youth who have dropped out of mainstream schooling.
  • The smooth running of our court, prison and probation systems is crucial if we are to successfully manage the implementation of justice in New Zealand.
  • Prioritise and expand restorative justice programmes as a priority response.
  • Repeal the Three Strikes Law.
  • Reduce recidivism. The majority of inmates in New Zealand prisons are repeat offenders or are future repeat offenders. United Future is committed to reduce the rate of recidivism. This does not mean that we are soft on crime, rather we want to stop more crime from being committed.

National Party

The National-led Government continues to be committed to reducing crime and reoffending and tackling family violence. We’ve introduced a number of measures to address these issues, including:

  • Setting Better Public Service targets to reduce crime and reoffending, which has seen total crime reduce by 13% and reoffending reduce by 4.3% since 2011,
  • Introducing the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill to overhaul our family violence laws and,
  • Establishing the Integrated Safety Response pilot to improve the way we respond to family violence.

ACT Party

ACT will introduce three strikes for burglary, meaning someone convicted of a third burglary offence gets three years in prison.

ACT will reward prisoners who complete literacy programmes and driver licensing tests with reduced sentences. Do the same for prisoners who volunteer to teach in these programmes.

Scrap red tape that stops ordinary New Zealanders from volunteering in prison education and rehabilitation programmes.

ACT has always been committed to tackling crime and bureaucracy in the justice sector, we believe we need to be smarter on the core drivers of crime and put the focus back on victims. Rehabilitation of offenders is also vital in slowing the pace of recidivism that is putting immense pressure on communities. We need to be smarter at using police resources. Too much police time goes into chasing minor traffic offences and petty drug use. Taxpayers fund police to actually solve burglaries and prevent violence – not to play nanny state.

Internet Party

In our Criminal Justice Portfolio we have a position to move the direction of the justice system to becoming not only fair and balanced but also more restorative and evidence based. We plan to do this by increasing, over time, the usage of non-custodial and rehabilitative approaches used by the courts based on international evidence and, ultimately, the best practices used. We also want to make sure that once a prisoner is released they will have ample access to jobs, education, housing and other services which is aimed at encouraging them to not offend in the future. We believe in redemption and hope to enlighten a movement towards forgiveness and understanding on both sides of conflict.

NZ Outdoors Party

In response to every question we would say we have no experience in these areas and would look to organisations like yours for expert advice should it be needed. We just don’t want to have policy for policy sake not really knowing what the issues are. We do believe in the rule of law and have been most disappointed by the Government’s suggestions of legislating to negate the Ruataniwha Dam High Court decision. The Outdoors Party will be standing a number of candidates and contesting the party vote emphasising our experience and knowledge of the environment.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party exists to legalise cannabis for R18 recreational, affordable medicinal, and industrial purposes; to empower people to work together for peace and true justice; and to institute a proper balance between the power of the state and the rights of the individual. We plan to meet these objectives by standing in the elections to raise the issues and encourage other parties to adopt cannabis law reform.

Green Party

The Green Party will work towards an Aotearoa in which human rights are respected and promoted and a justice system that focuses on reducing crime and involving communities in restorative justice

If we truly want to reduce crime and victimisation, we must address inequality and marginalisation. We know that children who grow up in poverty are more likely to engage in criminal activity. We can’t ignore those that have already walked that path but we must do our utmost to prevent more from following.

Community-based mediation, restoration and rehabilitation, together with a transparent and fair judicial and legal system, is at the heart of the Green Party’s justice policy. We believe that the best way to keep families and communities safe is to address the causes of crime and, where possible, prevent it from happening in the first place.

NZ First

The costs of using the system must be reduced to provide greater access to justice, including:

  1. More use of alternative disputes resolution processes
  2. Providing litigants with better means of avoiding delays
  3. Providing litigants with improved means of reviewing the fees charged by lawyers and other providers.

Instruct the Law Commission together with the Human Rights Commission to urgently review the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act to broaden its scope.

Reduce the prison population through the greater use of alternatives including the wider use of home detention with mandatory reporting for approved work or training during the day, and a greater range of non-custodial sentences such as the confiscation of specific property, larger and long term reparation payments and fines.

The income and capital eligibility thresholds for legal aid need urgent review to allow a much larger section of the community to get legal aid.

We would establish a group within the Ministry of Justice to oversee the effective co-ordination, funding and delivery of victim support services, and ensure that victim support groups receive adequate funding which reflects both the demand for and quality of the services they provide.

We believe that the priority for reducing youth crime is ensuring all young people are engaged in full-time employment.

NZ People’s Party

We are very concerned with the rising crime rate New Zealand is experiencing at the moment. Our key immediate objectives would be to boost police numbers by 2,400 by 2020 to give a police to population ratio of 1:450. We would then ensure future police funding always allows them to recruit enough officers each year to maintain this ratio.

In the long-term we would like to see sentencing move away from arbitrary length sentences and move to a rehabilitation-focused model. We envisage a multi-disciplinary sentencing panel would create a sentence to give the offender the best opportunity to turn their life around and become a productive member of society. Only when the sentencing board is satisfied the offender has achieved this outcome will their sentence end, whether that be before or after their original release date given at time of sentencing.

Democrats for Social Credit

Our key objectives are:

  • That all law-abiding people can live in peace and harmony, assured of community support and protection from those who commit criminal acts.
  • A reduction in the number of people needing to use the court system.
  • That those charged with a crime or those needing issues resolved in a court are able to have their cases dealt with promptly.
  • That the cost of accessing the court system, and assistance with using it, is kept affordable.

We don’t view justice as just a legal issue but as an economic, social, educational, and moral one. Implementation of our economic policy would see large numbers of people lifted out of the poverty trap that leads to crime, higher educational and skills proficiency achieved by more people, and greater income sufficiency. Some of the $4.6 billion annually that is wasted by government on paying interest on its borrowings from commercial banks, when it could fund that borrowing from its own central bank without interest, would pay for more resources for the justice system, including greater use of alternative disputes resolution options, and support for victims.

The Opportunities Party

Successive governments have tightened bail conditions, lengthened custodial sentences and made parole harder to get; in short, put more people in prison for longer and relentlessly increased costs. Criminal justice has become too punitive, which has led to a vicious cycle of an increasing prison population and rising costs, leaving little money to invest in reducing crime. As a result we have high recidivism rates and a disproportionate share of Māori in prison. Our prison population is rising and there is no end in sight.

We believe that this has to change; prison is not the answer. TOP would dial back overly punitive legislation. This approach would free up money to spend on better ways of reducing crime – namely prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration. This will be supported by better economic and social policies to reduce poverty and inequality, which help drive crime rates. The Opportunities Party’s key objective in criminal justice policy is to lower the prison population by about 50% to no more than 6,000 by 2027. This would put us in line with the OECD average for prisoners as a percentage of the general population.

Māori Party

Our key objective is to dismantle institutionalised racism within the justice system as a matter of urgent priority. We also want to implement, prioritise and expand restorative justice processes through a kaupapa Māori-based approach, particularly in the courts and prisons.

To achieve our objectives, we want to expand iwi panels, Kooti Rangatahi, Kooti Whānau and Matariki Courts across New Zealand and increase the numbers of specialist courts including the AOD Courts, following an evaluation of the current trials underway in the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Courts in Auckland. We also want to establish more community-led alternatives to secure youth residences and set targets to reduce the rates of Māori over-imprisonment by 30% by 2025.

Culturally relevant approaches to prison and crime rates that address violence in all its forms, reoffending and recidivism will be supported with the creation of a community-led fund for initiatives that focus on prevention of social harm.

Another of our objectives is to develop a Māori Pathway for Women Prisoners that are culturally responsive to assist in addressing the disproportionate number of Māori women in prison and we want to initiate computers in cells to assist with literacy and numeracy.

We want to introduce whānau facilitators to ensure whānau are informed and able to discuss all their choices and the consequences (legal and non-legal) in the Family Court system.

Labour Party

Labour believes in a vision of a just society with safe and inclusive communities. Central to achieving this vision is a justice system which is humane, accessible and effective.

With a view to achieving this vision, Labour will have a focus on crime prevention and reducing recidivism, along with better access to justice for people regardless of their means. Crime prevention policy was addressed in part with our commitment to increasing police numbers by 1,000. Reducing recidivism will be addressed in our full manifesto when it is released but we will invest in prison programmes that rehabilitate offenders and give them options for the future, and invest in rehabilitative alternatives for more minor offences.

Those working in the justice system know that many New Zealanders have trouble accessing or qualifying for legal aid, the public defence service is not funded right, and community law centres frequently struggle. These are some of the areas we will be focusing on in our full Justice Manifesto.

Additionally, solutions to the problems faced in the justice system require a holistic view. Labour will have a focus on the underlying causes of crime such as poverty, inequality, and poor educational outcomes.