Waatea News Column: National’s political spite against cultural sentencing reports won’t help justice

Justice under National is blind, deaf and mute

Cultural Sentencing Reports are an attempt to inform the Judge before sentencing if mercy is warranted before punishing someone found guilty of a crime.

It is a welcome addition to making our justice system more just.

It allows the Judge to have a far greater understanding of the person they are about to sentence in the hope that more knowledge of a person’s background might help explain their current actions and whether or not rehabilitation is possible or likely.

It provides a context for the Judge to make a just sentence, but the rhetoric from the political right is that these cultural reports are a soft on crime approach when punishment is the priority.

National have already promised to cut the funding for these cultural reports in a giant leap backwards for the quality of sentencing.

Giving Judges context on the person they are sentencing isn’t soft on crime, it’s smart on crime and National’s political spite is utterly misplaced and counter productive.

Seeing as Māori make up a staggering 52% of prisoners, removing these cultural sentencing reports will impact them far more than any other group in New Zealand.

This is a knee jerk policy by National that will make our quality of justice worse, not better.

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First published on Waatea News.


    • Laughably, according to reports there is no verification process associated with any of these cultural reports.
      So, Harry Tam can essentially make up any shit he wants and have that presented as the gospel truth in a court of law. The sheer incompetence of the people who have been running this country is hard to believe.

    • Wrong, collectives doing the reports have verification processes built in…. this issue has been dealt with a number of times in print in response to misrepresentation of the reports by commentators, yet people like yourself continue to spread misinformation, and somehow manage to ‘avoid’ information that dispels the mythologising about the reports.

    • Can you provide evidence that ‘who’s doing them’ is a problem, or in fact how much they are charging? And no, your opinion is not evidence.

  1. We measure rehabilitation efforts at the parole end, so why do these shorten sentences rather than just nonparole periods?

    And where is our prisoner rehabilitation, anyway? Corrections is so understaffed that they’re playing prisoner jenga and disrupting programs – and it’s leading directly to denied paroles.

  2. I don’t know into what ‘cultural’ context one would want to put murdering a baby. Or beating up a woman. Or dealing millions of dollars worth of drugs? Cultural reports are part of the woke culture these days: nobody does bad things, we’re all good people, nobody should be shamed. It’s all coming from a good place…killing the baby that is….I love my wife that’s why I beat her up….

    • Your entire comment is uninformed nonsense… firstly, section 27 and reports have been around a lot longer than people like you have been misusing the term ‘woke’; 2ndly, the reports are misrepresented as cultural reports, they are in fact sentencing reports that can include cultural context if that is relevant to the individual. I write these reports as do many people I know and at no time are they written from a position of ‘no one does bad things’ all clients are after all, convicted for their offending… your lack of knowledge of the reports and their intent is laughable.

  3. A bloody rort!
    Pure and simple, these people writing the reports will not personally know the criminal, will be a boiler template with spaces for the name changes and conviction charge.
    ‘bad up bringing in a violent household, no father figure in the formative years’…etc etc

    • I am one of the people who writes these reports; we interview the client, their whanau, partners, bosses and sometimes their clinicians. We see the statement of facts re: their offending, their offending histories, we can also view diagnostic material re: mental health etc… you on the other hand appear to be commenting from a position of knowing f-all about the reports or the process of developing them.

  4. A woman I know trained as a social worker at Auckland Uni about 15 years ago. A lecturer told the class that Pakeha don’t have a culture. With that sort of training going on I guess Pakeha don’t have the privilege of a cultural report. Just wondering.

    • So, someone told you that someone said that, and somehow that has something to do with the sentencing reports?

      But to answer your query, they are not focused on ‘culture’; it covers the range of issues related to someone’s offending but allows for discussion of cultural issues if they are relevant. I work for a collective that according to our figures the % breakdown of the ethnicity of our clients is roughly equal to the % breakdown of the imprisoned population, so yes, Pakeha are getting sentencing reports done for them. Also, in a good 70% of my reports, perhaps even higher, for Māori and Pacifica clients, cultural issues are not discussed in detail at all because it are not relevant to their offending behaviour.


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