• How To Create Criminals

    Richard Prebble is described in the Herald as “a former leader of the Act Party and former member of the Labour Party”.

    It might be thought that, with a track record like that, it might be difficult to predict what might come out of his mouth at any particular moment or on any particular subject. He is nevertheless engaged by the Herald as one of those contributors who can be relied on to take pot shots at the government on one topic or another.

    In today’s Herald, however, he highlights an issue that deserves attention. He points to the fact that our criminal courts are totally clogged up with cases, with the result that many of those charged – and many of them young people – are spending time in jail, on remand, without ever having been convicted of any crime.

    The damage caused by this state of affairs is incalculable. Many of those caught in this bind are young Maori, and many of them are charged with minor drug-related offences which are offences only because we (that is, the general populace) refused to decriminalise the use of cannabis.

    The last thing these young offenders need – and, for that matter, the last thing we as a society needs – is that this particular section of society should quite unnecessarily and unjustifiably spend time in jail. There could be no surer recipe for ensuring that they are introduced to a life of crime from which they will never escape.

    Like so many of the problems that government has to deal with, the congestion in our courts system no doubt has more complex causes than is immediately apparent. But the issue identified by Richard Prebble on this occasion certainly demands immediate attention.

    Bryan Gould
    10 November 2021