Paved with good intentions by Trevor Plumbly
Crime and nourishment
Administering justice has been a disaster since the days of Cain and Abel. After God failed to sort it, we’ve been struggling with it ever since. These days, the threat of the fiery furnace or more earthly punishment doesn’t seem to work that well; every time someone rattles out the latest crime statistics, an army of apologists strike up a salvo of mitigation ranging from poverty to post colonisation trauma. Quite frankly I’m getting a bit sick of it: poverty of some sort or other, has always been a handy bin to dump social nasties in, a neat way to blame ourselves without too much guilt, but by adopting ‘it’s our fault really’, we seem to be hell bent on elevating a lot of the crims to victim status.
Auckland is now regarded as the ‘ram raid capital’ of the country, a stamping ground for juvenile ratbags to vent their inadequacies on people trying to make a living by legal means. In a perfect world, crime wouldn’t exist along with a lot of unpleasantness and punishment wouldn’t be needed, but we’re a long way from that and wet nursing little thugs isn’t going to help us get there. According to the cognoscenti in such matters, it’s a sensitive world for young offenders and guilt should be considered counter-productive. I wonder what confused looney thought that one up. From infancy, we’re taught the difference between good and bad behaviour by reward and restraint and up to quite recently that seemed to work reasonably well.
The Crown vs the Bewildered
Anyone doubting that the fruit-loops are gaining ground would do well to look at the recent occupation of parliament grounds. This motley crew, exercising their right to protest in the name of freedom, totally ignored the rules of law and responsible behaviour at a time when the country desperately needed unity. During their display of petty arrogance, they heckled schoolchildren, disrupted a university term, paralysed businesses and topped it off by damaging a playground. Most strolled away scot free, but we’re just starting to pay for their lunacy. Three and a half million dollars for the Independent Police Conduct Authority to deal with a welter of complaints, and of course those that are charged will demand their day in court, protected by legal aid and gung-ho to yell for the appeal process if things don’t go their way.
Getting soft on tough
As election year approaches, law and order sermons will be trundled out with about as much shelf life as a campaign handshake. Surely there’s room in the system for a more realistic approach than the current psychological ping-pong. As youth crime continues to grow along with the appeal of gang membership, it’s obvious we need to break the cycle and perhaps the best way to do that is to make it more unpleasant to offend. What about residential marae-based sentencing for juveniles, work based programmes, even short ‘boot camp’ terms for young violent offenders?
Who’s a naughty boy then?
As I’m writing this, I’m trying to find any justification for a judge sentencing an 18 year old to 9 months’ home detention for four counts of rape on under-age girls plus another of sexual assault. My first thoughts were kindly enough: perhaps the old girl had just slipped a cog or two; but after hearing her reasoning that a heavier penalty might impair the rehabilitation process I revised the diagnosis to totally gaga. If our justice system allows itself to be manipulated by a rabble, then it, as well as the people who craft it, need to start asking themselves serious questions, and any judge incapable of weighing the horrendous impact of rape on four young lives should seriously question the quality of her own judgement.