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Public forum to focus on media and justice system

May 24th, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

JUSTICE SPEAK: From left, Asenati Lole-Taylor, Hone Harawira (partly obscured), Charles Chauvel, Chester Borrows and Metiria Turei.

After holding politicians to account, JustSpeak criminal justice activists will next stage a public forum on the relationship between the media and the justice system.

At St. Johns Church in Wellington earlier this month, JustSpeak asked “Do Politicians Have the Courage to Abandon the Law and Order Auction?”

Justice Minister Justice Chester Borrows, Labour Party justice spokesperson Charles Chavel, Greens Party social equity spokesperson Metiria Turei, Mana party leader Hone Harawira and NZ First welfare and social policy spokeperson Asenati Lole-Taylor made up the panel of guest speakers.

Each was scored by the audience of about 150 people on a report card with six different areas to be assessed.

Engaging with the question, representing diverse perspectives, imagination, long-term thinking and solutions, stepping away from law and order auction and room for improvement.

JustSpeak had prepared questions that were sent through from the public on a social media stream.

“We want your questions for this week’s panel discussion with top justice spokespeople,” JustSpeak said on its Facebook page.

JustSpeak, the youth arm of Rethinking Crime and Punishment, was impressed with the turn out and with how the politicians engaged with the debate.

“We came away greatly encouraged by the willingness of politicians from across the political spectrum to engage with youth on fresh ways of thinking,” said JustSpeak’s press release after the event.

“I hope your idealism lasts beyond the ink drying on your degrees,” Mr Burrows said on the night.

Throughout the debate it became clear all parties agreed that New Zealand’s current justice system is failing and needs restructuring.

“We do not have a justice system only a legal system and that needs to change,” said Ms Turei.

The focus of the forum was to not only to address the issues but to find solutions.

Mr Chauvel committed Labour to terminating the contract to build a new prison at Wiri and use that money to fund other projects to address wider drivers of crime.

Mr Burrows suggested a change in the court rooms with defendants and victims being more involved with their lawyers and each other.

“Look forward to new ways of people going to court,” said Mr Burrows.

The next forum which will be held in June will focus on Media and the Criminal Justice System.

Anyone that wants more information should email


Political opponents find common justice ground

THE diverse parties at the JustSpeak event were able to find some common ground, agreeing that more should be done to identify causes of crime and to tackle re-offending young people.

Minister of Courts Chester Burrows refused to renege on National Party policy, but said the tide was turning in public sentiment over justice.

Mr Burrows believed the public has had enough of the Sensible Sentencing Trust and this was evident in a decline in media coverage for what he describes as their radical views.

However, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei and Labour Justice spokesperson Charles Chauvel, pictured above, agreed that with so many empty beds in New Zealand prisons, the new correctional facility in Wiri need not be built.

They suggested more money could be invested in housing and preventative policies.

Mr Burrows said the reason the new prison was required was due to the poor standard in many of the country’s older prisons, such as New Plymouth.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, pictured right, spoke of his time in Mt Eden prison, and believed a good place to start would be to knock it down.

He praised the amount of young people in attendance.

“Politicians don’t have the intelligence to solve problems, it’s up to the public to force people to change.”

Mr Harawira spoke out against the private prison industry, and his disgust with inequalities in the justice system.

“Someone goes to jail for stealing due to poverty, but rich pricks get home detention for ripping off millions.”

Although a party traditionally linked with harsh sentencing, New Zealand First justice spokesperson Asenati Lole-Taylor, pictured left, said her career in corrections had taught her there were many potentially successful cultural strategies still being ignored by the system.

Mrs Lole-Taylor said rehabilitation was every bit as important as punishment.

”Prisons are about maximizing safety in the community.”



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