Q+A: Justice Minister “what we are doing isn’t working”

Justice Minister Andrew Little was interviewed on Q+A last night.

Andrew Little: after 30 years of tough on crime policy, the reoffending rate has stayed the same, “it’s not making us safe”

“We have to change the public debate on what we do with criminals”.

“If we are doing it right there will be more people leaving prison who have been helped and don’t reoffend.”

“It is not right that we’ve had a 30% increase in our prison population in the last 5 years.”

“No we haven’t got agreement from NZ First to get rid of 3 strikes law.”

Andrew Little: can’t rule out the possibility of systemic racism in the justice system

“Just the humanity of it means we have to do something different”.

“What we are doing right now isn’t working”.

I doubt anyone will argue that New Zealand’s incarceration rate is a problem, and that deterrents and reoffending rates and rehabilitation need to be seriously reviewed.

What is missing from the interview highlights (from @NZQandA) are solutions. That’s the tricky bit.

A review of the judicial system is under way. Hopefully that will come up with some good suggestions.

One problem is that a substantial up front investment will probably be required.

The growing number of prisoners has to be dealt with, and that is costly.

But much more resources are required for prevention and rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners after they are released. If these are done much better it should lead to lowering imprisonment rates, eventually.

Many prisoners are the result of long term problems, often intergenerational. Poor upbringings, lack of education and low skills making well paid employment difficult to get all contribute to resorting to crime.

Drug laws have worked poorly and contribute to a lot of crime.

Violence is a huge problem, it is a deeply entrenched issue in New Zealand society. It will be very challenging confronting and addressing this successfully, but it is an investment in effort and money that benefit us all if it works for the better.



  1. Blazer

     /  August 20, 2018

    Comey should moonlight as a comedian…who really believes that?

    Little is right…the materialistic society and defining people by their wealth is the malaise that is the root of crime.

    • sorethumb

       /  August 20, 2018

      I’m picking much of what you say would be contradicted by empirical evidence.

  2. David

     /  August 20, 2018

    Simple really dont break the law and you wont go to jail.
    If you dont want your kids to go to jail then dont have them until you are married and both be involved in their upbringing and instill good values in them…it is really that simple in “most” cases.

    • Blazer

       /  August 20, 2018

      instill ‘good values’ in them…really!So simple…teach them the competitive nature of the society we have created that encourages the pursuit of money above all else.

      Conform or we will put you in prison.

      Has to be a better way.Everyone can’t afford a Raj Rover,everyone can’t be a ‘winner’.
      We all know that the real criminals do not go to…jail.

      • David

         /  August 20, 2018

        Well yes you should teach them that the world is competitive but I think you know I mean, values like dont take what isnt yours, dont lash out and teach self control, respect other people and their property etc etc. Love and nurture them and give them boundaries too many people in jail have had very poor childhoods and end up with equally poor life outcomes.

        • PartisanZ

           /  August 20, 2018

          They’ve had poor childhoods, as in poverty-stricken, amidst a world hell bent on consumerism where possessions and wealth define status … They’re also the perfect targets for the addictive nature of modern consumerism …

          You want most what you cannot have … or are addicted to … and, given the opportunity or imperative ‘need’, you just take it.

          What’s happened could be seen as the perfectly natural consequence of increased inequality, the ‘haves & have nots’ … combined with inevitable systemic racism …

          We’d expect exactly these behaviours of children … and I mean the accumulation, protection and ‘hoarding’ of wealth by the haves … MINE! MINE! MINE! … as much as the commensurate disrespect for it from the have nots …

          • David

             /  August 20, 2018

            So poor people are destined to be crooks is that like if you have a samsung instead of an apple its fine to rob someone, how about using it as way to teach the path to a better future is by working and saving. Delayed gratification, the dignity of work, the rewards that come from something earned not taken.

            • PartisanZ

               /  August 20, 2018

              Not at all David … I’m just counter-balancing your preposterous idea that the entire world should only reflect your personal and very ‘Western’ economics-based ‘values’ …

              I’m saying poor people are at greater risk of becoming ‘crooks’ as you call them … of breaking the law … and especially if the Law expects them to do so …

              Working and saving … Sure, if your job pays well enough for you to save anything … If you can get a job …

              Delayed gratification … Oh yeah, the ‘persuasion landscape’ of marketing certainly teaches that … along with not ‘wanting’ and harbouring unrealistic expectations and desires …

              Yep, the dignity of work … except for the considerable indignity of much work …

              And yes, and the rewards that come from something DECENTLY earned … not indecently or unethically earned … or, as you say, taken …

        • Blazer

           /  August 20, 2018

          is it alright to launder drug money,
          is it alright to rig interest rates,
          is it alright to charge dead people for advice,
          is it alright to commit fraud on customers…

          it must be…because those that practice these …don’t go to..jail.

          • Gezza

             /  August 20, 2018

            No it’s not all right so add those to david’s other list of things not to teach your children.

  3. sorethumb

     /  August 20, 2018

    Given the ideologies emanating from the universities you have to wonder if they need an audit. They are a public service afterall. Have they crowded out any ideas they don’t like?

  4. sorethumb

     /  August 20, 2018

    I googled “indigenous incarceration” + “toxic narrative ” and came up with this (a comparison of two approaches). In “The NZ Wars” Mihirangi Forbes The Third says that all the negative statistic of that tribe go back to those events:

    I have presented contrasts and similarities between two recent studies of factors contributing to excessive Indigenous incarceration.
    One model emphasises the continuity in Australian colonial history between all forms of institutional control of Indigenous Australians and their current high rates of incarceration; this model does not treat as significant the high proportion of Indigenous Australians who do not suffer imprisonment or adverse contact with the forces of law and order. It postulates Indigenous Australian, in effect, as a continuing ‘community of fate’, that suffers systemic, collective oppression rooted in the colonial past.

    The other model is more attentive to historical discontinuity—in particular to the distinction between recent criminal imprisonment and earlier regimes of institutional management—and it can deal with the differentiating effects of assimilation policy among Indigenous Australians. In this second model, Indigenous Australians have not continued to be a ‘community of fate’, as some have flourished socio-economically while others live in ways that are both disadvantaged and criminogenic.

    The two models give rise to different perspectives on public policy. The former model problematises the law itself, and focuses on the issues of judicial authority and judicial reasoning; the approach of the latter model is not to question the law but to pathologise the law- breakers and to seek changes in social policy and in sentencing options that would optimise their social integration.

    The historical framings I have reviewed here differ in their openness to the exploration of social differences—‘respectability’, class—that seem to have emerged, as Kath Walker predicted, since the 1960s. Though Weatherburn generalises about the destructive impact of colonisation on Indigenous Australians, his analysis of what is wrong and his recommendations for action rest on a differentiating account of Indigenous Australians: not all of them have wound up in the vicious criminogenic circle that he has described. Weatherburn’s sociology makes three claims that should affect the way we write history. He reminds us that a significant proportion of Indigenous Australians do not have adverse contact with the criminal justice system; he points to the quantitative significance of a recidivist tendency among those who do have such adverse contact; and he identifies criminogenic socio-economic factors in such recidivism that are not unique to Indigenous Australians and that public policy could ameliorate.

    The word ‘recidivism’ is not in Anthony’s index. It is not part of her analysis to distinguish among Indigenous Australians according to the degree or nature of their contact with the criminal justice system. Their common relation to colonial power is, in her view, of greater significance. The inferred narrative trope that seems to discourage the exploration of significant differences among Indigenous Australians is that they constitute a ‘community of fate’—equally implicated as subjects of dispossession, protection and assimilation. The idea of all being equally implicated is reinforced in some of our uses of statistics. Statistical analysis aggregates Indigenous Australians in order to make Indigenous/nonIndigenous comparisons, but the useful exercises of calculating population rates, means and medians should not licence the supposition that Indigenous Australians— imagined as a statistical aggregate—are best understood historically as a community of fate.

    Why do these post colonial theorists even have a place as paid employees at Universities?

    I’m a great admirer of steve Maharey. He is head of a University but he makes me feel quite bright when i see what comes out of the narrow gap in his head (brain).

    “Behind the “one people” slogan sits a belief that Maori are at no disadvantage. Afterall, they enjoy the same opportunities and play by the same rules. It is, Brash suggests, patronising to think otherwise. The disturbing story told by prison, health, housing, education, employment and income statistics can, therefore, have nothing to do with the history of Maori as a colonised people. Any problems can be placed at the feet of Maori themselves.”

  5. Blazer

     /  August 20, 2018

    wonderful world…beautiful…people’

  6. Zedd

     /  August 20, 2018

    Tautoko Minister Little !

    Prison is the place to lock up criminals.. not just a ‘dumping ground’ for all ‘undesirables’ & a holding pen for people on bail, awaiting sentencing.
    Folks with Mental health issues, Drug use etc. should be dealt with as separate issues.

    ‘Tough on Crime’ is just simplistic rhetoric, it is NOT an answer to this problem

    Many young ‘offenders’ come out of prison worse than they went in; almost no resolution of mental health or drug issues, lack of education or training etc.

    The current system is all about ‘Lock em up & punish them !!’
    This is NOT working.. time to “WAKE UP” :/

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  August 20, 2018

      I agree, Zedd. But the problem is how to reprogram people who have been destructively programmed all their lives and who live in a destructive culture that keeps reinforcing itself. Anyone who thinks that is easy doesn’t understand the problem.

      • Zedd

         /  August 20, 2018

        I tend to agree AW.. but locking them up in prison with; Murderers, Rapists & other Violent Crims.. is NOT going to make anyone, any better,…. is it ?

        I knew a couple of guys (in my mis-spent youth) who were imprisoned for 6 months (minor robbery) & both said they came out ‘MUCH better crims’ than when they went in..

        • Gezza

           /  August 20, 2018

          So where are they now & why did they want to better crims when they came out?

          Which part of the revised bail law &got it wrong, btw? A judge has to approve these remands, & I believe judges sometimes don’t impose custodial sentences post trial simply because time remandef in custody is treated as time served.

          Was the problem really that the true numbers of offenders who committed offences & represented a damger or high likeliehood of repeat offending on bail were delberately underestimated?

          Which specific cases of low-level offending for which remand in custody is not appropriate has Andy now identified? Because by now the beggar should have that information,

        • Gezza

           /  August 20, 2018

          Ok, I watched it. I have no doubt he means well but he knows nothing more now than 6 months ago than the present laws & custody practices aren’t stopping the high rate of particularly violent offending & domestic violence & reoffending.

          Well, we can all see that.

          Get these other programmes he talks about funded & in place – psychological & mental health services, prisoner literacy & education & skills training, job/employer programmes for when they come out, accommodation, halfway release houses, supervisors, Maori hapu marae & urban marae involvement & initiatives – then you don’t need to release remand prisoners. The reoffenders won’t be taking up jail space. You are going to have to spend money. Don’t go to the Greens for advice there, they’ll want to charge the parents for dumping the offending kids in prison.

        • David

           /  August 20, 2018

          I would imagine they probably did more than minor robbery to get locked up for 6 months or had quite a list of priors. Perhaps the victim being robbed may not have thought it minor.

        • Chuck Bird

           /  August 20, 2018

          What do you call minor robbery? Robbery involves violence or threats of violence. If they got 6 months they were lucky.

  1. Q+A: Justice Minister “what we are doing isn’t working” — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition