McVicar resigning from Sensible Sentencing Trust

After almost twenty years running the Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar is standing down, citing family reasons and the length of time he has spent promoting the work of the Trust. His wife is also standing down.

NZH: Sidelined by government, called ‘loopy’ and ‘callous’, now the Sensible Sentencing Trust is about to lose its founder

The founder of the Sensible Sentencing Trust Garth Vicar is resigning from leading the organisation known for pushing “tough on crime” policies.

His decision comes as the trust struggles to gain the ear of government and months after McVicar praised police for shooting dead a mentally ill man.

McVicar posted: “One less to clog the prisons! Congratulations to the New Zealand Police, our thoughts are with the officer who was forced to take this action to protect the public.”

He has refused to resile from his comments.

But a trustee of the organisation says McVicar’s exit – and that of his wife, Anne – is not a response to controversy.

A combination of family issues and dedicating almost 20 years to the trust lay behind the decision.

It comes as the Sensible Sentencing Trust struggles to engage with the Government as Minister of Justice Andrew Little pushes ahead with plans for criminal justice reform.

Little has praised work the trust has done raising the profile of victims but he referred to McVicar’s comments about the police shooting as “loopy” and Garrett’s about the inmate suicide as “callous”.

The trust will be led by Leigh Woodman, who is a trustee of the Group Trust and its “National Victims Portfolio Manager”. Woodman became involved after the murder of her daughter, Vanessa, who was 15.

Her profile on the trusts’ website says: “Very early after her daughter’s murder, Leigh turned to the SST because she believes there wasn’t and still isn’t any other organisation out there to provide the level of support and assistance required to aid the victims of these types of horrendous crimes.”

The SSG may survive after the McVicar’s exit, but it may be harder for them to make an impact. It could be that tapping into ‘get tough on crime’ sentiment has taken it’s course.

There is now more emphasis on crime prevention, rehabilitation, and alternatives to the growing prison population.

Next Post

43 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  July 6, 2018

    ”Little has praised work the trust has done raising the profile of victims but he referred to McVicar’s comments about the police shooting as “loopy” and Garrett’s about the inmate suicide as “callous”.

    When Muldoon finished his valedictory speech everyone stood to congratulate him. David Lange remained seated. Little should have done likewise.

    Garth McVicar has consoled many victims. Victims society forgets. His stance on crime will be vindicated in years to come as our society continues to splinter and crime becomes rampant.

    Unfortunately the SST is finished. They are the civilian equivalent of NZ1 without Winston.

    All the best Garth. And, thankyou.

    • Gezza

       /  July 6, 2018

      Garth seemed to me sometimes too focussed on prison as punishment rather than for the protection of society from recidivist & unrehabilitated violent criminals. The end result is the same but those recent comments quoted damaged the SST’s reputation.

    • Corky

       /  July 6, 2018

      ‘Garth seemed to me sometimes too foccussed on prison as punishment rather than for the protection of society from recidivist & unrehabilitated violent criminals.

      I can’t pretend to know what Garths thinking was, but if it’s anything like mine he realised punishment must come first. There must be incentives for prisoners to change. Rehabilitation is of course a no brainer, but as a first up option for hardened criminals it’s a waste of resources.

      • Gezza

         /  July 6, 2018

        There must be incentives for prisoners to change. Rehabilitation is of course a no brainer, but as a first up option for hardened criminals it’s a waste of resources.

        For young starting-out criminals coming from a horrible environment that made them like that, putting them into an even more horrible environment (by all accounts) must harden many up so that they come out even worse & more focussed on how important it is to look after number one & think society doesn’t give a shit. And then they get released back into the same environment that made them like that.

        I dunno Corky. It’s that last bit that especially bothers me. I don’t know how we change that. Not when everbody’s got rellies in gangs & makes excuses for them.

  2. High Flying Duck

     /  July 6, 2018

    SST has very laudable goals. So often victims are the forgotten collateral damage as everyone rushes to blame society for whatever the crime was, and fights over the rights of the criminal.
    Offering genuine help and support to victims and pushing for the justice system to be more victim focused, even in areas such as restorative justice and rehabilitation are goals worthy of being promoted.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  July 6, 2018

      My impression is that it had lost its direction recently and was about revenge, hence the comment about the dead man being one less to clog up a prison.

  3. Zedd

     /  July 6, 2018

    The whole ‘tough on crime’ thing is being seen as a zero-tolerance & purely draconian approach, that has often just labeled people as ‘Crims’ & this branding has seen ‘drug offenders’ & other non-violent offences, as ‘really just the same’ as rapists, murderers & the ‘hardcore’. It is time these fossils & their outdated attitudes were ‘dumped on the scrapheap’ it is 2018.. not 1978.. the world HAS moved on.. why are some kiwis still pushing this ‘LOCK em ALL up B-S’ ?

    • Gezza

       /  July 6, 2018

      The whole ‘tough on crime’ thing is being seen as a zero-tolerance & purely draconian approach, that has often just labeled people as ‘Crims’ & this branding has seen ‘drug offenders’ & other non-violent offences, as ‘really just the same’ as rapists, murderers & the ‘hardcore’

      Well I hope that that is not actually the case, and the prison overcrowding problem seems to be the unforeseen result of remand prisoners being detained in custody pending trial at 3 times the rate projected when bail laws were tightened up.

      But crime is reported to be falling, & we STILL don’t know exactly what offenders are being denied bail, & what their offences, & offending histories are. It has been claimed that there are very few being detained for drug offences & if someone is a persistent thief, burglar, car converter, bail absconder or condition breaker, that places a different construction on things entirely.

      Andrew Little hasn’t given any details, & the only example he could give of a low level offender was one second strike serious offender sexually assaulting a female prison officer.

      • Zedd

         /  July 6, 2018

        cheers gezza

        I dont claim any ‘expert status’ but its the 21st century.. its time some realised. The ‘system’ is not set in stone

      • Zedd

         /  July 6, 2018

        I knew 2 guys who in 1980s did a few months for a minor NV offence (not drugs either). They both agreed that prison made them WORSE; no such things as ‘character rehab.’ it was all about punishment & indoctrination.. they both had no 2 haircuts when I last saw them (but NOT when they went in)

        • Gezza

           /  July 6, 2018

          🤔 Hmm. David Clark has a No 2 or No 1 haircut. Are there any unexplained gaps in his employment history? o_O

        • Gezza

           /  July 6, 2018

          What was the “indoctrination” exactly, Zedd?

          One of the things that keeps coming up in debates about this is the claimed number of people with mental health & drug-addiction issues who have ended up in prison as this has led to their offending.

          So that’s certainly an area that is most likely under-resourced, especially given mental health services generally seem to be over-stretched. That means more funding & more resources are needed.

          And the other problem area is the same thing I keep talking about. It’s likely to be of limited value “character rehabbing” offenders if on release they go straight back into the same environment that made them offenders in the first place.

          We know so little about the actual details behind this increase in remand prisoners, for examplr, that’s what’s so frustrating when debating this issue. I’m positive one or two-time minor offenders can’t just be locked up.

          They have to be serious offences or serial repeat offenders or continual bail & community sentencing offenders to end up being locked up.

  4. Corky

     /  July 6, 2018

    I wonder if Garth would accept a Knighthood?

    • Gezza

       /  July 6, 2018

      Hard to say. I wonder if anyone would offer him one.

      • Corky

         /  July 6, 2018

        Without a doubt. Maybe he has turned one down already.

      • Conspiratoor

         /  July 6, 2018

        I hope not. Started with a roar, lost his mojo when Helen bribed him with a business class ticket to the world.

        All done in the best possible taste of course …as my good friend blazer would say

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  July 6, 2018

          There is no chance of him being offered a knighthood. Anyone who suggested that would be dreaming.

          • Corky

             /  July 6, 2018

            You may be right. Would you like a bet?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  July 6, 2018

              I don’t bet on certainties.

            • Corky

               /  July 6, 2018

              Translation: I refuse to back myself, unlike Corky. I may be proved wrong.
              For an intellectual women of my standing that is unacceptable. I mean, Corky is so blue collar. What if he was proven right?

            • phantom snowflake

               /  July 7, 2018

              I may be colourblind but I’m seeing ‘red neck’ rather than ‘blue collar’ hehe.

  5. PartisanZ

     /  July 6, 2018

    I wonder how much money the SST spent on its ‘Punishment & More Punishment’ campaigns over the years?

    When you think about it, if we spend mega amounts of money on Crime & Punishment, why not pay it directly to the people as an incentive NOT to commit crimes? Or not to re-offend …

    “You have a 93% chance of re-offending and a 100% chance of being sentenced to more than 7 years …. Therefore, we’re going to pay you 93% of say 40% of the cost of your penal accommodation for 7 years … provided you don’t come back!”

    Just saved the country $60K+ per annum. This could be phased-in over a medium-long-term period … (in addition to UBI) …

    Victim support and advocacy is fine – the other $60K could be spent on that – especially if it advocates for restitution and compensation … a fundamental disincentive to one of the key drivers of crime: The Profit Motive.

    But if victims are being used (and maybe re-abused?) to push the ‘More Punishment’ barrow, that is not so good.

    One or two high-profile cases can really change things. The nation is still paying – it would appear willingly – for the consequences of “stranger danger”, ongoing since the 80s …

    Multitudes more SUVs on the road delivering children to the school gates … or somewhere in the long queue approaching them …

    Unnecessarily increased traffic congestion and fossil fuel consumption …

    The same parents probably wonder why the RMA is preventing them doing just whatever the hell they want on that “in-fill back section” they own down the road across the railway tracks …

    • Gezza

       /  July 6, 2018

      You have a 93% chance of re-offending and a 100% chance of being sentenced to more than 7 years …. Therefore, we’re going to pay you 93% of say 40% of the cost of your penal accommodation for 7 years … provided you don’t come back!”

      And if they do come back, will we be seeking repayment of this money? What are the odds of getting it back?

      Also, if you were thinking about doing something criminal, why would you NOT want to be a crim for that sort of return?

      • PartisanZ

         /  July 6, 2018

        Sure … the first offence has to be MOST disincentivised … yeah?

        I’m just thinking aloud … Contemplating possible alternatives to Crime & Punishment which you might say there’s ample evidence spanning millenia obviously doesn’t work …

        If prison worked … we’d have no more criminals …

        I like to think I’m a tad too intelligent to go on bashing my head against a brick wall for 3, 5 or 10,000 years when its plainly evident it doesn’t achieve the desired result …

        That way doth evolution NOT lie …

        • Gezza

           /  July 6, 2018

          How is paying someone that sort of money not to commit a first offence going to work?

          Does one rock on up to the cop shop and say, “I want to knock over the liquor shop down the road. How much will you pay me not to?”

          If people didn’t commit crime we’d have no more criminals too. Nothing wrong with thinking outside the square but it’s not a simple problem & there aren’t going to be simplistic solutions.

          • PartisanZ

             /  July 6, 2018

            Surely increasing everybody’s wealth would at least capture some or even many potential first offenders and disinterest them?

            Then you’ve got a smaller cohort of the population to work rehabilitation magic on …

          • Gezza

             /  July 6, 2018

            Dunno. Might be a hard thing to get people who work hard & save & opt for the straight & narrow themselves to buy into the idea of paying out their taxes to fund someone who doesn’t want to do the same. Where’s it been done & worked?

            • PartisanZ

               /  July 6, 2018

              Prior to first offence we don’t know who the criminals are, do we?

            • Gezza

               /  July 6, 2018

              Prior to the first ARREST we don’t know who the criminals are.

              But once everybody knows for your first arrestable offence you will receive several thousand dollars, what’s the likelihood there might be quite a few young unemployed folk with nothing to do looking to get arrested for a crime asap?

              There are obviously quite a few of them now who are doing crime for next to nothing.

            • Blazer

               /  July 7, 2018

              I must takeissue with this line you often use Gezza…’Where’s it been done & worked?’
              If this attitude was common no meaningful change would ever occur.

            • Gezza

               /  July 7, 2018

              @Blazer. Firstly, I don’t “often” use it, I only use it sometimes. Second, I only ask it where someone is advancing a claim I am dubious or skeptical about & can see potential fatal flaws in. Third, asking for evidence or proof of concept does not prevent meaningful change.

            • Blazer

               /  July 7, 2018

              I maintain you ‘often’ take this line.
              Evidence or proof that a new concept works is…..!!!!

            • Gezza

               /  July 7, 2018

              1. You are incorrect. ‘Often’ would be something like, say, the regularity with which you sidetrack all kinds of topic discussions with irrelevant rants about say, John Key, Paula Bennet, or anyone to do with the National party, or Jews.

              2. Evidence or proof of concept would be one or more examples where an idea, especially the same, or a truly comparable one, has been tried & been shown to have worked.

            • PartisanZ

               /  July 7, 2018

              Just talking about UBI possibly acting as an incentive NOT to commit crime … like maybe remove or ameliorate the poverty motive?

              And about redirecting tax transfer into incentivization rather than punishment …

              I figure this should appeal to almost any neolib or new ager … the idea of incentivizing or ‘rewarding’ good behaviour, including rehabilitation, rather than punishing bad behaviour ….

              If it saves money … either reduce taxation or redirect the savings to other incentivisation programs …

              No need for re-education camps … We can have re-incentivisation camps … or Rehab & Reward Glamping?

            • PartisanZ

               /  July 7, 2018

              Gezza … a new idea has got to be tried out for the first time … There may not be a precedent …

              Given the acceptance of “rewarding good behaviour” and “affirmation” in both child rearing, child-and-adult psychology and the human growth and potential movements I’m kinda surprised it hasn’t entered the public arena much more … not only Justice and Law & Order but Education, Health and Social Welfare too …

            • Gezza

               /  July 7, 2018

              That’s right. That’s what most parents do. And that’s obviously where it most needs to start, because we now know from solid research that without this kind of upbring & guidance & lessons on consequences (which don’t need to be harsh) a given proportion of the population are more likely to turn out to be violent criminals & and to suffer from things like anxiety & depression.

              It’s big ask to expect the Education system to supply this, & from what I see they try to do this already in cases where it is absent at home.

              You are advocating a form of social welfare in which some people will get paid for probably doing nothing useful by people who are working hard and smart to do something in the expectation that everybody will turn out nice. I’m doubtful this will work out as well as you think.

              And I’m doubtful that enuf people will be convinced by your hypothesis to want to give it a try across an entire nation yet.

            • Blazer

               /  July 7, 2018

              touched a nerve I see.
              Do you even understand what political debate is about?
              ‘ irrelevant rants about say, John Key, Paula Bennet, or anyone to do with the National party, or Jews.’….subjective opinion on your part.
              No secret I do not like the Nats=Key for 8 years.
              As for Jews b/s…Zionists =no time for at all.

            • Gezza

               /  July 7, 2018

              Looks to me like I’m the one who touched a nerve, Blazer. I’m just replying calmly & objectively to your criticism, with a relevant comparison.

              On Zionists – I’m against the Zionists in Israel & elsewhere who support Eretz Israel & pursue it. I make that clear. You on the other hand regularly chuck the word Jews into your mix. The two are not synonymous. As you know.

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 6, 2018

    Crimes seem to range so enormously from the hideously unforgivable to the momentary disaster that sensible sentencing is a mine-field. McVicar didn’t always seem to navigate it successfully.

    • Blazer

       /  July 6, 2018

      lookin for a hang em high redneck to take his place..Al…any suggestions?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 7, 2018

        Probably look for someone whose mother, wife of daughter has been killed by one of your friends, B.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  July 7, 2018

          Or not of. Not doing well here.

  1. McVicar resigning from Sensible Sentencing Trust — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition