The Law and Order Referendum
and other related issues in New Zealand
Causes of Crime
There are two of schools of thought on this. Some believe the causes are social, i.e. inequality, poverty, oppression etc. Others believe the causes to be primarily biological or genetic in origin (a school of thought known as biological determinism). Some of the factors involved are not considered "politically correct" to even discuss, which is certainly a liability if ever we honestly wish to arrive at lasting solutions!
Another factor often cited is "self esteem"
Oppression is often cited as a primary cause. If this is so, then it has to be asked why women are only 10-15% of the prison population if that. And Asians, who are still subject to some pretty overt bigotry and hatred, rarely commit violent offences! And it has to be asked why European males constitute almost 50% of the prison population. They were not considered to be an "oppressed minority" last time anyone looked!
Another factor often cited is "self esteem". This is in fact perfectly true, most offenders, particularly rapists, suffer from having far too much of it, Malcolm Rewa as mentioned above in Capital Punishment being a perfect example
In all likelihood it is a complex blend of social and biological factors. There is strong evidence linking levels of unemployment to crime rates, along with other purely social factors. The widening gap between poor and rich is a contributing factor undoubtably. There are also cultural factors involved, which go some way toward explaining why our crime rate is much higher than in some overseas countries.
And we certainly make a rod for our own backs by allowing easy access to alcohol and permitting its advertising on the media. Also the high level of violence on TV is a contributing factor. It must influence people, particularly the susceptible - otherwise why would advertisers advertise at great expense? Research in the U.S. now indicates that over a period of time people become desensitized to violence if they see instances of it often enough on TV or on film, a technique used to prepare soldiers for the Vietnam war.
... rising abortion rates ... seem to have reduced crime levels
However there is some fairly persuasive evidence that genes have a strong influence on behaviour too, recent research on sexual orientation is one example that bears this out. Other biological factors also play a part, many of which have a large sociological component as well, for instance Foetal Alcohol syndrome, the effects of accidents or assault during youth on the brain, lead levels affecting IQ and so on.
A great deal of research is being done on the effects of neurological defects, pre and post natal traumas, hereditary defects and so on now, some of which can be seen here . Recent research showing that rising abortion rates amongst certain sectors of the population seem to have reduced crime levels would indicate that there may be something to this, see also this recent Herald article. See also the effect of Mental Illness
Another factor is the appalling upbringing that children recieve in some families. Some people are not fit parents, and their children are the victims as a result. Such parents, in particular the fathers, are often themselves violent offenders. When - and if - they grow up, the products of such abysmal parenting often end up both repeating the cycle, and also become offenders themselves.
As a society we are just starting to take steps to address this problem. In order to do so effectively, we need to take notice of those who speak some blunt home truths, such as Ms Merepeka Rauakawa-Tait, the head of Womans Refuge.
The Gang Threat
The Gangs are a far more serious problem than many in power seem to be willing to acknowledge. The Lawton family as described above would be able to inform them otherwise, as well as many other victims. They control not just the drug distribution chains and prostitution, but also are responsible for a fair proportion of the car theft and conversion, most of the bank robberies, and a large number of rapes.
It doesn't really matter which gang we are talking about, as they are all much the same, Black Power, White Power, Mongrel Mob, Nomads, skinheads, whatever, the violence and public intimidation is much the same, although probably the Mongrel Mob are the most disgusting by a small margin. See the Mongrel Mob openly boasting about their rapes in the video clips below from an Australian 60 Minutes documentary not shown here
Go to the homepage or the Multimedia page for more videos about gang intimidation and violence.
They walk the streets, intimidating honest hard working people in the poorer suburbs, as well as stealing off them. They wield a reign of terror in some parts of the country, and none of those in power seem to have the guts to take the tough action needed, with the honorable exception of one city council that had a gang fortress fence forcibly torn down. The gangs are a haven for psychopaths and killers much like the IRA and similar terrorist groups are overseas.
They are a malignant and powerful force beyond the ability of our under resourced and legally constrained police force to deal with without assistance. Worse, they have intelligence networks that have earnt grudging respect from the police for their ability to trace and hunt down their victims. See a display of blatant intimidation in these video clips from 60 Minutes documentary.
There have been some hopeful law changes in this regard in the last couple of years, making it illegal for people with criminal records to associate in a gang, although is it obvious that the police are not able to enforce this law effectively given their current situation. No amount of law changes will effectively remedy this situation by themselves however. Their malign influence already extends as far as the courts and the judicial process now.
The obvious solution is to make use of our armed forces, who apart from East Timor have largely been under utilised by the government. Meanwhile we have watched gangs grow, until they now constitute the greatest internal threat to National Security we have ever faced, and still nothing is being done.
"facially tattooed lowlifes"
With full Armed Forces backup the Police could effectively clean up the gang filth, imprisoning most of the members, and defusing the threat. They would not disappear totally of course, but would lose their power to intimidate the public, which is at least 50% of this fight. This is not only possible, it has been done here before by Gideon Tait in the mid 70's.
Had our leaders had the guts to carry on his good work in this matter we would not have the problems we do now. Nor would we have had such horrors as the Ambury Park rapes, the murder of Chris Crean or numerous other atrocities. It would also be nice for law-abiding people to not have to put up with the sight of vehicles they could never afford themselves being blatantly flaunted by facially tattooed lowlifes who have either stolen them or purchsed them with the proceeds of crime.
For more see the Mongrel Mob in their own words here and the solution from the past here. See the unnerving story in the August 2000 Investigate magazine here. The Black Power have their own website at www.blackpower.co.nz. Their first ISP, Titan did the decent thing and pulled out of the arrangement once they realized what sort of criminal scum they were dealing with. The site then moved to 50Megs.com for a short while, who then pulled the plug after they decided that it breached two of their conditions on web hosting forbidding the provision of hate sites and also those promoting or supporting organised crime.
They have now found an ISP with no such scruples, which is to be expected as a natural downside to the freedom of information online. See Herald story here.
Rehabilitation and other long term solutions
If rehabilitation is to be successful, it must be properly resourced, and carried out after the first or second offence. If it is left too late, it is much less likely to be successful. Someone who continues to offend after two shots at rehabilitation is probably not rehabilitatable.
There are a small minority of people who are intrinsically evil, and there is not much that can be done with them, apart from protecting the rest of us from them. The rest are salvagable with some effort. Rehabilitation is not simple, but is worth the cost, particularly if intervention is done early and comprehensively.
Rehabilitation is not a quick fix
Rehabilitation is not a quick fix, and therefore does not have immediate appeal to the public, understandably. However, it is a good long term solution, and has the potential along with other measures to bring the crime rate down over time, as its effects kick in over time. The public are going to be understandably reluctant to fund large scale rehabilitation however unless the streets are made a lot safer first.
Advocates of rehabilitation will need to accept that longer, tougher prison sentences are going to be the price to pay, a price the rest of us are more than willing to accept. Some people once in prison may make the decision to turn their lives around, and if they are serious in their intentions, it would only be fair to give them the opportunity to make the change. However, it should not be given more than once...
Other useful initiatives can be taken even earlier down the track, assisting at risk kids and their families, reaching them before they even get to the stage of committing crime. Alan Duff's Books in Homes is a good move in this direction.
There are even proponents of intervention still earlier, i.e. selective birth control to minimise the number of potential offenders born in the first place. A recent piece of research relating abortion rates to crime rates later on indicates there may be something in this.
The Overseas Experience
Not all countries are plagued with the violent crime we have. True, some are even worse, for instance South Africa. But many are doing much better than we are, and have been doing so consistently for years, Japan and Singapore being good examples.
And many parts of the United States have less crime than here, including some that were once notoriously bad, such as New York, see article here. We need to look at these success stories and learn from them. Certainly the Japanese were in the past more than willing to copy and learn from the West. Now it's our turn.
respect for other people... key component of their culture
Japan does have a cultural advantage, in that obedience to authority, and more importantly, respect for other people, are key components of their culture. But some may be able to recall that this was true here once to a fair degree. Our culture has changed, and we need to look for what we seem to have lost along the way.
America is a good place to look at, as a wide variety of approaches have been tried there, some successful, some unmitigated disasters. Their culture is similar to ours, and influences ours more than some might like to admit.
Switzerland is another country we could also look to for solutions, and not just in the crime area. Much of the decision making there is done by referendums, and has been for years with notable success. Their culture is probably closer to ours than that of Japan, and Switzerland's physical size is half of ours, although they have double the population. We have more than double their rate of rape however....
To get an idea of how we are performing in comparison to other countries, look at these Statistics derived from the latest United Nations Crime Survey results and compare them with ours. To get a grip on just how successful Japan's law and order strategies have been, take a look at this page particularly the graph near the bottom.
Mind you, they haven't exactly been wasting time in Singapore either, although there will be some who would take issue with their methods . Those wishing to look further at how these problems are solved overseas may like to start here at the Justice Information Centre or here at Organised Crime a cleverly named Crime Statistics site (keep in mind rather a lot of the International UN Links were broken...)
One of the effects of the reforms of the last 15 years has been to reduce the cost of cars. This by and large has been beneficial, allowing many people to have access to reliable, safe transport who otherwise would not have done. It has somewhat raised the standard of vehicles on the road, and removed many that were tired and sometimes dangerous. The downside by implication is that many more people have access to cars now that should not have. This is increasingly becoming evident with the number of road rage cases that we are now seeing.
The quality of the drivers has not improved in line with the quality of the cars! Anyone who has to drive in any metropolitan area will attest to this. What makes this worse is that most of those offenders who have been released upon the community due to inadequate sentencing will not only be back on the street, they will most likely also be behind the wheel, a chilling thought.
The connection between serious violent offending and serious traffic offences, such as repeat drunk driving or extreme recklessness resulting in injury or death, has now been firmly established by research here and overseas. Many offences, such as rape and bank robbery, involve the use of vehicles. Often these are stolen.
stolen vehicles are often used to commit crimes such as robbery and rape.
Certainly part of the solution will lie in confiscating vehicles off such people, and maybe also placing laws in place restricting the sale of any vehicle to someone with a criminal record involving violence or drink-driving. Finance companies must also shoulder some blame in being all too willing to extend loans to people to buy cars, when they are unfit to drive them, let alone make the payments!
People must also get into the habit of securing their own vehicles at all times, even if left unattended for only a moment. As mentioned above, stolen vehicles are often used to commit crimes such as robbery and rape.
Unfortunately, new laws (or measures such as the photo licences) however laudable will not have very much effect on the situation. What needs to taken into account, is that laws are only obeyed by law abiding people! It seems glaringly obvious, to the point of being trite, but many people seem to overlook this fact (as debate on gun law shows).
It comes down to removing from circulation those offenders that pose an ongoing danger to the public, not just removing them from their cars. Even confiscation or other measures are of limited use, as criminals will simply obtain another borderline wreck, or steal someone else's better car.
Race and Crime
The statistics show a largish proportion of prison inmates to be Maori, about 35-40 percent, a much lesser proportion from the Islands, and almost all the rest European, just over 50 percent at last count. (Asians are rarely if ever seen.) The reasons for this? Realistically, there are no simple clearcut, certain answers. Anyone who says there are is not aware of all the facts. The reasons are a complex mixture of cultural, social, economic, and sociobiological factors, with no one factor taking precedence.
there are no simple clearcut, certain answers
The sad thing is that most Maori and other minorities are every bit as honest and hard working as the rest of the population, but unfortunately they tend not only to be tarred with the same brush as the offenders merely because some of those happen to have the same skin colour, they also tend to have a higher chance of becoming the victims of crime . As a result they often hold strong law and order views, and with good reason. A good example is Chris Crean a mighty hero who stood against evil.
It is often stated by opponents of tougher law and order policies that such measures oppress and victimise minorities such as Maori. There may be some truth in this, but they miss a vital point - that by failing to carry out tough policies we merely end up victimising law abiding members of those minorities who for social and economic reasons end up having to live in the same areas as offenders. Such offenders often tend to prey on those around them, and more often than not those of their own race.
So the question is not whether we should victimise Maori and other minorities or not, but whether we oppress and victimise law abiding Maori or those who are criminally inclined. Whether we as a society take a tough line on law and order or not, somebody is going to get victimised and oppressed. We believe it should not be law abiding members of any group, minority or otherwise.
The strongest argument against white supremacy is... white supremacists!
One statement can safely be made however. The strongest argument against white supremacy is... white supremacists! Usually they are worthless tattooed apes with long criminal records of the very type of mindless violence that plagues this nation, a waste of time and a waste of space. Some of them are so disgusting they would lead most people to consider Capital Punishment . Inevitably they're thick as pigs**t and usually twice as smelly!