The Law and Order Referendum
and other related issues in New Zealand
A victims group fighting for justice
Their Awesome Site!! www.voice.org.nz
A new victims group called VOICE has been formed by the families and friends of Kylie Jones (killed in cold blood by Taffy Hotene) and Karen Stanley-Hunt, who was brutally murdered in 1998 by a convicted rapist, Rangitahi Phillips. They are campaigning to make Parole Board hearings public, and want such killers and rapists locked up for longer - exactly what Norm Withers wanted, along with most of the rest of New Zealand. VOICE now have a website www.voice.org.nz
The response of our Corrections Minister Matt Robson to this perfectly reasonable request has been to say that he didn't want "to turn Parole Board hearings into a public spectacle". As if this wasn't bad enough, he then urged caution over "uninformed people starting a bandwagon rolling". He needs to ask himself who could possibly know more and be better qualified to comment on these offenders than the victims themselves and/or their families.
The current scheme is that victims are placed upon a register to be told about their offender's parole hearings. Yet this is obviously not working, as only a day after the Herald published its first item on this issue, a victim advised them that her father's killers were paroled without her knowledge. And this is not the only case. People do change address and contact details, particularly victims after a crime of this sort, and it would be much fairer to make parole details public so that victims have a better chance of finding out, wherever they may be.
...Matt Robson has ruled out giving the public this information...
Under the current scheme, neither the media nor the public are given parole hearing details - in order to protect the privacy of the offenders! This is madness, and an insult to victims and their families. Nonetheless, Matt Robson has ruled out giving the public this information as the VOICE group has asked for. Q.C. Peter Williams, as usual, has also added his own astonishingly crass contribution, saying "there's a danger you get hysteria, lynch-mob mentality..I'd be very very cautious about that". As usual, he puts the offender first...
The Voice spokesman, Greg Stenbeck, the father of Aaron Stenbeck, Kylie Jones' fiance, is hoping to hear from other victims so they can lobby for law changes and to support each other during parole hearings. He is aiming to have a group largely composed of victims, as that is where the passion to carry on with the issues will come from.
We strongly support this worthwhile initiative, and hope that it is successful, as it will give crime victims true empowerment. Unfortunately, neither this nor previous Governments have a track record of listening.
Greg Stenbeck, Aaron's father, tells some home truths in this video clip from Holmes, taken at the funeral
Voice will also be lobbying the Parole Board to use more discretion in keeping violent offenders in prison longer, and will also campaign for tougher penalties for murder and other violent crime. The combination of the current scheme where violent offenders are released after serving two thirds of their sentence, plus the low sentences some have received, mean that some of these dangerous lowlifes are on the street in as little as four or five years in some cases. This is to the detriment of victims and public safety in general.
Even the worst predators end up going free after as little as 12 years, and that after being sentenced to "preventative detention". Yet this is supposed to be, and should be, a life sentence, in order to protect the public. As Greg Stenbeck said to the Herald, that says it all.
In a very sensible column in the Herald, Elisabeth Easther arrives at the inevitable conclusion - that Hotene and others like him should be imprisoned for life.
This sad article in a recent Herald marked a year since the murder of Kylie Jones. Her family still grieve, the pain never goes away. And meanwhile, the government has done...not very much.
Interestingly, to quote from the article, "A report found failings by the Community Probation Service, Psychological Service and the prison, but maintained that even if these had not occurred, Kylie's death probably could not have been prevented." This is an admission that it was the justice system at fault for not locking Hotene up permanently for his previous offences.