Wednesday, 28 November 2007

No justice

  • Four thugs brutally beat a man to death in cold blood in Te Puke this week as he withdrew $100 from a cash machine; two of them admit to the murder. Today, all four charged are back out on bail (with name suppression of course) until their case is heard.
  • Another young scumbag in Tauranga, David Stephenson, beat up a taxi driver a couple of years ago and left him within inches of his life. Now he has been let out early after serving only nine months of a twenty-month sentence, and after four months of freedom is in the news again for further assaults.
  • Yet another Tauranga murderer is let out before completing his sentence for killing a woman a couple of years ago. This time he has killed a young child he was supposed to be looking after.
And this is just Tauranga! As the Tomahawk Kid says in listing this litany of brutality -- all of it avoidable -- WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?

Let's reflect again on the primary point of a criminal justice system: it is neither to punish nor to rehabilitate. The primary purpose of a criminal justice system is to protect the rest of us from the criminal.

The sole justification for government is the protection of individual rights -- the primary purpose of a government's criminal justice system is to protect us from those who have shown they have no respect for our rights. When they can't even do that much (when with all their meddling it's the only thing they don't care about), then it's time to ask ourselves again what justification a government has?

Let's say it again: The primary purpose of a criminal justice system is to protect the rest of us from the criminal. So what should be the primary intention with sentencing? The sentence should ensure 1) that the rest of us are made safe from the criminal; 2) that no criminal achieves any value from his crime; and 3) as far as possible, no victim is worse off for it.

Remember the victims? Tomahawk Kid asks the question that should keep those responsible for giving these scum new victims awake at night:
Who is supposed to be protecting us from these predators?

Who is responsible for letting them back into civilisation to kill again?

Whoever it is needs to be given a bloody good shake-up - they are as guilty of these crimes as the perpetrators of these vile crimes.


  1. Funnily enough, Peter, I was reading the latest book by Greg Newbold yesterday.

    It is about the NZ Prison system and he says that sending people to prison is to punish them for breaking the laws of the State.

    The act of having lost liberty for a period of time being seen as the 'punishment'...[for daring to break the State's law]

    Each prosecution is headed up 'Queen V [joe bloggs]' so it is the 'State' acting at all times...the State's law has been broken, the State taking liberty as punishment.

  2. And you know what really makes me sick? People like Ron Mark, Garth McVicar and Stephen Franks, who advocate for victims rights, are more maligned and derided by the left-dominated civil service/ academia than those who champion the so-called rights of people with less morality than my dog.

    elijah, imprisonment is for punishment, rehabilitation and protection of the public. The trouble is our recent lawmakers have romanticised the idea and exaggerated the prospects of rehabilitation. I believe in second chances but third, fourth,fifth....??

    They also have a touching faith in the ability of mentally disturbed people to live peacefully in the community. Many are unable but the state having closed down all of our institutions for the mentally ill, a good number are now imprisoned - for their own sake and societies. That's progress?

  3. ELIJAH: "[Newbold] he says that sending people to prison is to punish them for breaking the laws of the State."

    And that's exactly wrong, isn't it. Another phrase I keep hearing is that criminals need to "repay their debt to society."

    What on earth are they talking about? There is no debt to society" -- there's only an obligation to their victims, and a requirement to keep the rest of us safe.

    And strangely enough, Newbold should support this view since if there's no victim (as there wasn't with the 'crime' for which he was locked up) then there's no crime.

  4. "People like Ron Mark, Garth McVicar and Stephen Franks, who advocate for victims rights, are more maligned and derided by the left-dominated civil service/ academia than those who champion the so-called rights of people with less morality than my dog."

    Damn right. Prisoner's "rights" my arse. There's a reason wankers like Peter Williams are always talking about the "rights" of criminals -- it's because if criminals do have rights that must be respected, then the rest of us don't.

  5. That is the argument Newbold makes in his book...that imprisonment has little or nothing to do with protection of the public or rehabilitation...(that is just what politicians tell the voting public to shut them up)...but in reality what is happening is the State is simply denying liberty to offenders for breaking a law of the State.

    To put it another way....the State does not care less how many times a bank robber offends, and re-offends they will catch him and lock him up each time...for breaking that law.

    This is why Garth McVicar is pissing in the wind...because he wants to get 'subjective' and include emotions ...which the State will not do.

  6. "That is the argument Newbold makes in his book...that imprisonment has little or nothing to do with protection of the public."

    And on that argument he is fundamentally mistaken: the primary job of government -- it's only proper purpose -- is to protect man's rights, which means to protect citizens from those who would do us over.

    If Newbold doesn't get that, then he's failed in the very first stage of his argument.

  7. Elijah, What is Newbold saying though. Whose intentions is he talking about? The state is made up of people with differing ideas. Politicians, police and judges - makers, imposers and interpreters of the law - all servants of the state, will no doubt disagree with each other about what the primary purpose of prison is. The purpose of prison is different things to different people. To inmates it can even offer a sense of security and belonging they have never before experienced.

  8. PC

    So would you be a supporter of convicts being subject to rape, torture, violence and years of imhumane treatment? Is that what an Objectivist prison system would actually involve? Or did the venerable Ayn Rand have something else in mind entirely?


  9. LGM, you appear to be confused over the distinction between "primary" purpose and "only" purpose.

    I'm in favour of prisoners being protected against inhumane treatment to the extent that it doesn't conflict with the primary purpose of protecting the rest of us.

    I'm also in favour of prisoners "rights" being protected exactly to the extent that they've shown they recognise those same rights in others.

  10. At law school they taught me that there are seven purposes for criminal sanction (I'll list them, but not in any particular order):

    (1) to punish;

    (2) the deter that individual from reoffending - called individual deterrence;

    (3) to deter the public at large from that sort of offending - called general deterrence;

    (4) to incapacitate that individual so s/he cannot continue to offend - called individual or selective incapacitation;

    (5) to incapacitate the sorts of people who commit such crimes from being able to reoffend - called general incapacitation;

    (6) to denounce the criminal conduct in a public and formal forum as being wrong and shameful; and

    (7) to rehabilitate.

    I am now a barrister practicing criminal law. It has always seemed to me that numbers 2, 3 and 4 made perfect sense, and that fits (gnerally speaking) with PC's analysis.

    Numbers 6 and 7 made some sense to me in a pragmatic way. Number 6 because there are 'offences' that probably do not require any sanction other than a dressing down by a judge (which in my experience usually scares the crap out of any decent person, but which has no effect on scumbags). Number 7 because "a stitch in time ..." etc. It is in everyone's benefit for offenders to stop offending on their own rather than by virtue of state intervention.

    I never understood what general incapacitation was and couldn't make any sense of it at all - I still can't.

    As far as punishment goes though, I have never really come to grips with why we do it. As others have noted, "the system" takes it for granted that punishment is part ofthe equation. I tend to agree with PC. I have yet to see a case where punishment is meaningful (that is to say, where the criminal sanction imposed does not serve another of the purposes listed above). Punishment as an objective of sentencing seems, on reflection, to be the state smacking its citizens like a parent smacking a child. It is the exercise of power because the power to do so exists. It doesn't help anyone who is involved in the equation.

    But, until there is a "paradigm shift" (I'm wasting my time with this law lark, I should be in marketing or politics or somewhere else where they talk B.S.), don't expect to see any sense in the types of sentences handed out, or in the policies that govern sentencing guidelines.

  11. Sorry for the delay in replying, I had an urgent matter to attend to...

    Newbold's books has only just been published, and I have not read all of it yet, but it was the first time I had heard such an argument.

    I was always of the view that jail was to protect the public, and to punish an offender for a specific it is all rather new to me, and I am not sure I entirely agree (but fully understand the point he makes)

    As a personal comment the book has some excellent information in it...I have learnt quite a lot about prison history and management.

    My only comment (just being nitpicky)...I do not think he should have written about Auckland Prison during the period when he was an inmate! that is hardly objective and he should have gotten a colleague to write those parts with a disclaimer.

  12. PC: Good post. One thing to add is just how hard the State has also been coming down on those that try to defend themselves from violence, and manage to "win".

    Recently, a baker on the way home from work was threatened by a gang. He was intimidated and feared for his life. He knifed one of them and is now doing 2 years.

    That's Punishment for exercising his right to defend himself, in the absence of protection from the state.

    We don't need him locked away for 2 years - we need him on the streets and those that threatened him should be in jail.

  13. PS: I'd comment more but your word verification thingy invariably gives me 8 letters to type and it normally takes me two or three goes to decipher the damn things.

  14. Lindsay, I read your comment a little while after I heard Keith Locke reportedly denounce the use of tasers re policing again, today, supposedly in contravention of some UN ruling.

    Or it might have been a guideline, who knows. The man's rantings normally make my eyes glaze over ...

  15. ZEN: The law's position on self-defence is risible. Your comment is spoton.

    P.S.Sorry, it's either word verification or wall-to-wall spam.

    Nothing good comes without a price, eh?

  16. Oh, and that reminds me of the local story that came to light last wknd: that of the released murderer who ended up being placed - "placed", presumably at public expense? - right next door to the daughter of the murderer's victim!!

    That's right. This poor woman discovered that her new next door neighbour was none other than the bastard who murdered her mother.

    And the state's response? "We're terribly sorry, but it's impossible to keep tabs on everybody"!

    No mention of the obvious solution, of course: to keep the evil bastard in jail for life.

    But who gives a fuck for the deceased or her family, eh? Certainly not the state - or the Keith Lockes of this country.

  17. Keith Locke is the defender of scumbags. I've never seen the guy says one positive thing in his entire lifetime. He should be castrated exactly to sacrifice for Gaia.

  18. Isn't the real crux of this matter to do with the fact that the prisons are chokka and the government has not made any contingency plans?

    The government is hiding its failures under the carpet.

  19. The primary purpose of a criminal justice system is to protect the rest of us from the criminal.

    Indeed it is. The post concentrates on street crime committed by deadbeats, and I agree with you. But I would like SST et al, and libertarians, to pay more attention to white collar crime,generally committed by intelligent people of means.

    Although our reaction to a crime like murder may be greater than to a white collar crime, the actual net harm inflicted on society is often greater than that inflicted by an individual violent crime. White collar crime costs the taxpayer 50 times as much as street crime. These crimes are punished much more lightly in proportion to the harm they inflict, because our punishment system is driven by gut-level/emotional thinking.

    My proposal is that fraud and corruption that hurts the lives of untold numbers; should result in a life sentence for the perpetrators, just like murderers. Govt is often a perpetrator, of course.

    As they say:
    You can steal more with a smile than you can with a gun.

    You can steal more with a pencil or a keyboard than you can with a gun.

    White collar crime inflicts collective harm on people and society and should be considered as brutal as violent crime.

  20. White collar crime inflicts collective harm on people and society and should be considered as brutal as violent crime."

    But it isn't.....I'd rather be ripped off by a fund manager than stabbed or kicked to death by a labour foot soldier anytime....sure they are both nasty but nowhere near compatible in effect....

  21. PC

    No, I'm not confused and I didn't ask you about purpose (whether primary or otherwise). What I wanted to know was whether YOU thought it acceptable to subject convicts to torture, rapes, violence etc. You know, the sort of stuff that goes on year after year in NZ prisons. The judges know about it. The Police know about it. The politicians know. Much of the general public know. Seems it is accepted and acceptible to many. Are you one of the number that considers it acceptible? Y/N? Please clarify whether you think such matters excusable or whether you consider such goings on completely unacceptible.

    My understanding is that it is not acceptible. A convict may be incarcerated for many sound reasons. He may even be guilty (guilty as in he actually committed the crime and was not convicted in error or for other reasons). Still, none of that excuses the sort of treatments routinely visited upon convicts in jails. I am opposed to such behaviour, as it is criminal. It is clearly IOF.

    If Objectivists are going to apply the IOF rule, then that rule is applicable in prisons just as surely as it is outside them. It is not OK for convicts to be raped, bashed, tortured, terrorised etc. They are properly to be excluded from society in order to protect members society but that is not a reason to fail to protect them from each other (and from malicious officals and so on). That's my position. What about you?


  22. White collar crime inflicts collective harm on people and society and should be considered as brutal as violent crime. – Anon

    ...this sounds like rabid Maoist lunacy. Next you’ll be calling for the rounding up of all landlords.

  23. White collar crime is theft, rarely does it involve violence to the person. You can usually choose whether you do business with the person who ends up stealing from you, those who do violence don't even give you that - you can't "screen" them.

    As a result, qualitatively, it is less of a serious offence. However, stealing from 1000s should be treated proportionately compared to stealing from 1.

    Spending the rest of your life working to compensate the victims may help too!


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