New Zealand Law Society - This Court is ‘really great’

This Court is ‘really great’

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I found The Special Circumstances Court “really great eh, because I’ve been a man who’s been in and out of prison most of my life,” one of the Court’s current clients told LawTalk.

“I was looking at another prison sentence, but Leah and Bianca pulled me into the Special Circumstances Court.

“I have like a hundred and something convictions now and its getting pretty much like I’m really a repetitive offender.”

So how many prison sentences have you had?

“I’ve honestly lost count. It wouldn’t be any more than 10 though.

“The first time I went, I went to Corrective Training in 1992. And then I went to mainstream jail in 1996. And maybe every two years after that for a couple of months here and there.”

His offending included breaches of protection orders, common assaults, some drunk driving and “a couple of burglaries when I was younger”.

The client spoke to LawTalk just before he went into a residential rehabilitation programme for his drug and alcohol addictions. That was around seven months after he entered the Special Circumstances Court in June last year.

“The rehab is something that the courts want me to do, but it’s also something that I want to do.

Time to change

“I’ve obviously had enough now. It’s time for change.

“It’s time to grow up. I’m 42 now. I’ve had two disaster relationships. I’ve got two children from that. I haven’t seen my youngest daughter for 16 months now, just through my drug and alcohol addictions and the way I was.

“I’m hoping that as things go by I will get back into the family courts and try that way. I couldn’t go straight to the family courts with all this other stuff going on.

“Now I’ve got in place what I’m doing for the year – rehabilitation, family courts, back to work, hopefully pay the credit cards off.”

Do you think you would have done it without the Special Circumstances Court, or has the Court played a role?

“It definitely has, because I had an attitude. I was preparing myself to be a negative person and go back to prison again, but I was lucky Leah and Bianca got me into the Special Circumstances Court.

“Basically, I think the system’s had enough of me you know. And the prison sentences were getting bigger and bigger. Eventually they won’t let me out.

“If they didn’t get me involved, I’d probably be sitting in prison now not getting any help. They all promise you things but there is such a long waiting list. It takes a few years to get into any of the programmes most of the time in prison.

“I think that’s another reason they pulled me into the Special Circumstances Court, because every time I get sentenced to prison I get ordered to do these programmes in prison, but because the judge doesn’t give me long enough, I don’t fit the criteria. So then all those orders that he ordered me to do in prison never actually get done – not for my fault, but for the system’s fault. I’m just presuming that’s another reason why they’ve got me in the Special Circumstances Court, to try and make something happen this time.

“Bianca and Leah have bent over backwards for me and for anyone else who has been in that system. It’s great. Because they just want to see the back of us – never again in the courts, you know.

“It’s not completely over, but I’ll be out of the courts for the next two months because they know I’m going into rehabilitation. It’s just a matter of going back after that and seeing what suitable sentence is for me to do,” he says.

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