Justice Policy (Full)
The purpose of government is to ensure justice, peace, protection, welfare, freedom, and prosperity for its people. The need for law and order is paramount to this cause. More must be done to curb reoffending and the increasing wave of youth crime.
New Conservative believes rehabilitation must become the major focus for those in prison. We propose a 3-stage prison system:
Discipline with work in prison,
Open Prison: regular employment in the community while being housed in prison.
Inmates would need to succeed at each stage in order to progress to the next.
Prevention, however, is better than cure. A good justice system can reduce preventive detention by addressing the desperate needs of people which drive them to crime.
Reform incentives: New Conservative understands that part of sentencing is punishment. But we believe a major focus should include the opportunity, and incentives, for an inmate to reform their life and be empowered to successfully return to the community. Our 3-stage sentencing plan will greatly increase successful reform.
Increased sentences with good behaviour incentives: We will increase the maximum sentences outlined in legislation for all violent, gun-related, and sexual crimes and ensure that offenders actively involve themselves in work and education. Parole would be from stage to stage, and inmates would have incentives to move through stages faster via good behaviour. For example, if they complete their education they are rewarded by being moved to the “Open Prison” stage earlier.
Sentencing structure: We believe that if someone is convicted of multiple crimes they should serve each sentence sequentially (ie one after the other) and not concurrently (ie all at the same time) as they do now.
White collar crime targeted: We will also increase sentences for 'white collar' crime. Our current legal system does not adequately address the destruction caused by those who commit fraud, and many of their victims lose everything they have. Perpetrators will be significantly penalised for these crimes, and we will investigate all possible ways to ensure they recompense their victims, including a retrospective audit into their accounts to recover lost funds. A cross-party consensus is needed to bring greater protection for the victims of ‘white collar’ crime.
Bail: The amount of crime which occurs while people are out on bail is unacceptable. We believe that those charged with a crime serious enough to attract a mandatory prison sentence should be refused bail. Those who commit crimes while on bail should receive severe consequences, as this is a further breach of trust, and shows lack of reform.
Fines and compensation: We will set fines at a minimum of twice the estimated costs of damages or thefts. These will be used to compensate the victim. Court costs will also be set at actual costs. For example, a shoplifter will pay the shop owner twice what the stolen items cost, plus pay any court-related costs.
Acceptable justice: We will investigate the impact of plea-bargaining on justice in New Zealand. While we acknowledge the need to keep the justice system running efficiently, its primary function is to provide justice acceptable to society and the victim of the crime. A thorough investigation is needed into the adequacy of the current system to see whether justice is actually being served, or whether justice is passed over in the name of expediency.
New Conservative knows that the best outcome of an offender’s completed sentence is that they gain a new view on life and society that keeps them from reoffending. New Zealand’s 2009 reoffending rate within 2 years of release was 70%. It has not changed much since then, despite government goals.
Reintegration: We believe that, along with our 3-stage sentencing plan for rehabilitation, more effort needs to go into helping ex-prisoners reintegrate with communities. At every step of the process they will be closely monitored and fully supported. Community groups which help offenders reintegrate with society will be better recognised and supported to make a real difference.
Education: Part of an inmate’s sentence will be completing a specified number of educational papers. These will be set in consultation with the inmate and relate directly to the likely employment they will find when released. Inmates with longer sentences will have the opportunity to complete trade training as a good behaviour incentive, which would give them greater employment opportunities and help them reintegrate.
Work: New Conservative believes that inmates should have meaningful and profitable work while in prison. The funds raised through working will be used to recompense victims of their crime, and support the cost of their incarceration and rehabilitation.
New Conservative acknowledges research which shows the brain damage excessive alcohol consumption causes to young people under 20. We believe that drinking responsibly needs a mature attitude which is often undeveloped when a young person leaves school and starts an independent life at 18 years old.
It is unfair to expose our young people to such vulnerability at such a young age.
New Conservative will:
raise the purchasing and drinking age for alcohol to 20 years old.
enhance the responsibility of those who promote, sell, supply, and consume alcohol.
ensure that excise taxes collected from the sale of alcohol pay for the substantial costs associated with its misuse.
review the current accessibility of alcohol.
reinstate “drunk and disorderly” as a criminal offence.
implement a user-pays system for drivers under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Drivers found over the legal alcohol limit and/or under the influence of illegal drugs will be required to pay all attributed costs, such as police time and testing costs. Those hospitalised for alcohol and/or drug-related incidents, would also be billed for that, and for the use of an ambulance.
The increasing availability and use of illicit drugs across the country is doing irreversible harm and robbing us of our potential as a nation.
New Conservative believes that the long-term solution is strong families and healthy relationships, which will help reduce the search for something to numb the felt pain so prevalent today.
In the short term, New Conservative will provide police and corrections staff with the powers and authority to drug test offenders on probation, home detention and bail. Police will also be able to test for drugs or alcohol if they suspect an offender has committed an alcohol or drug-fuelled violent assault. Those showing a pattern of addiction will be required to enter a drug addiction help programme with a proven success record.
We will enforce legislation and increase penalties for illegal cannabis cultivation, distribution, and personal use. The detrimental effect of cannabis is well documented. Police leniency on cannabis users is not helpful to society, as it reinforces the incorrect belief that cannabis is harmless.
New Conservative will implement a user-pays system for drivers under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Drivers found over the legal alcohol limit and/or under the influence of illegal drugs will be required to pay all attributed costs, such as police time and testing costs. Those hospitalised for alcohol and/or drug-related incidents would also be billed for that, and for the use of an ambulance.
Police are the frontline tool of government to maintain law and order in the nation. Their work is not glamorous and is often thankless. They are to be honoured for their commitment to upholding our safety.
New Conservative acknowledges that police have been disempowered and are now subjected to verbal and physical abuse, spitting, swearing, and hitting with little or no recourse available to them. We will investigate ways to re-empower police to deal with minor misdemeanors instantly and effectively.
Boot Farm Policy
New Conservative believes that lock-up facilities are not the answer to many of our troubled youth’s problems. Many youth enter adulthood without the basic life skills of education, cooking, cleaning, and hygiene. They may lack respect for themselves and therefore others, and the experience of a happy, healthy, and prosperous family.
The concept of boot farms is to promote life skills and practical education. This is a holistic approach and youth would attend for a full year with strict boundaries, regular routines, and separation from negative environments.
New Conservative will purchase appropriate farms or transfer them from Landcorp. The farms would eventually become financially independent through revenues from farming and manufactured products produced by the youth programs. Much of the food required for the boot farms would come from the farm such as meat, milk, fruit, and vegetables with the excess sold.
It has been proven that animals are fantastic therapy for children and youth. The youth’s behaviour will determine how much interaction they are allowed with the animals, and how much responsibility they will be given on the boot farm. Youth will be able to learn hands-on farming experiences such as milking, working a dairy and beef farm, shearing sheep, and animal husbandry. School work will also be part of the programme.
Specialised youth counselling services will also be available on boot farms.
Youth Crime Policy
Our young people are our most valuable resource and we need to do all we can to prepare them for a life of healthy relationships and productivity. The causes of increasing youth crime need to be identified and addressed so that our young people, and our nation, have a future and a hope.
A preoccupation with 'rights' with very little reference to 'responsibilities' has led some youth to believe they can do what they want with little or no consequences. If they are simply sent home after committing a burglary, or get bounced between Family Group Conferences, the police, and the courts there is no disincentive and the pattern of crime continues. The consequences of the crime must outweigh the potential benefits.
New Conservative believes we need to come down hard on first time youth offenders, as a deterrent to committing future crimes. We propose an overhaul of the current youth court system to address issues such as timeframes for sentencing, increasing timeframes for youth court plans, and increasing the maximum community services sentences. We will lower the age of offending for all charges through the youth courts to 12 years old. Youth sentenced in the courts will have an educational achievement linked to the sentence as an incentive for personal improvement. This may include trade training, relationship training, or core subjects.
We believe that reparation must fit the crime. If the youth or their family cannot pay full reparation costs, community service must be based on the reparation required. For example, theft of a $1,000 item would require 80 hours community service: youth rates are $12.60/hr = 80 hours for $1,000.
Families with youth who have offended will be required to have free counselling to address any present issues such as generational cycles of addiction, abuse, offending, and the breakdown of the family unit. Repeat offenders would be required to attend one year at an age appropriate Boot Farm facility.
New Conservative will overhaul the Adolescent Mental Health Services to ensure youth who commit crimes get proper help for issues such as addiction and depression.
New Conservative is committed to reducing the appalling child abuse rates in New Zealand by identifying its main causes and proactively targeting with them. We believe that relationship education is essential in helping New Zealanders lead more compassionate and healthy lives with better long-term prospects.
We believe that parents are responsible for their children, so parents should be held accountable in cases where child abuse has taken place at home and they do not identify the perpetrators.