Since being assigned the Corrections portfolio a few weeks ago, I have been holding to account Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis, who seems to have more sympathy for offenders than their victims.
During the recent Covid-19 lockdowns, and while most Kiwis were making huge sacrifices, the Government decided it would be a good time to make life easier for those who had been ordered to complete community service for a crime they had committed.
Nearly 140,000 hours of community service were waived for more than 5500 offenders, amounting to a clear message to their victims: we care more about the criminal than we do about you.
National believes when you do the crime you should do the time. The Minister was presented with two options on what could be done about offenders unable to do community service during lockdown – extend the timeframe to complete their sentence or waive the hours.
Anyone with an ounce of common sense or belief in justice would have opted for the former. I accept that offenders were not able to do their community service while we were all ordered to stay home and save lives, but that shouldn’t mean they get an easy ride while other law-abiding Kiwis suffer.
Community service is an important tool in our justice system as it gives offenders a chance to better understand how their crime can impact not just their victims, but their community, and then provide an opportunity to make amends with both.
The Minister should not be riding roughshod over our Courts and the sentences they impose, and instead should have simply given offenders the chance to complete their service once lockdown was over.
It shows a clear disregard for our justice system and spits in the faces of victims of crime in this country.
This simply isn’t acceptable, and a National Government would ensure that all offenders are subject to that simple creed: if you do the crime, you do the time.
MP for Pakuranga