A matter of substance

Over at Stuff I’ve blogged on an actual policy issue, shock horror. I chose as I think it is a great example of a policy that actually matters to NZers, and has huge impact on our lives. An extract:

I regard law and order policies as among the most important, after the economy. Crime affects New Zealanders so profoundly. If you are a victim of crime, your life may never be the same again. Even a nonviolent burglary can leave you feeling vulnerable and violated, while serious rapes and sexual assaults many people never recover from. And those who lose loved ones to criminal acts must relive the horror and sadness constantly.

However, law and order policies affect more than just the victims of crime. Few of us are perfect and never break the law, whether it be speeding, littering, illegal drugs or more serious offences. It is important to have sentences that are appropriate for the crime. We don’t send people to jail for driving at 106kmh, but we might if they were driving at 190kmh for the fifth time, and almost certainly if they kill someone at that speed. …

I think there is some merit in [Labour’s] approach. Sending someone to jail should be the last resort, and reserved for either extremely serious crimes, or someone who doesn’t respond to lesser punishments. Once you send someone to jail, they are probably going to remain a criminal for the foreseeable future, so the point of prison becomes protecting the community. Hence I tend to agree that sending someone to prison for just two months is of little value. Either keep them out of jail, or send them away for a decent period.

I suggest people read the full column.

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