February 18, 2008
CrimProf Brookbanks Discusses the Effects of New Zealand's Criminal Justice Reform Act
From stuff.co.nz.com: Auckland University CrimProf Warren Brookbanks recently discussed the surge in home detention sentences in New Zealand.
The Criminal Justice Reform Act came into force on October 1 last year and allows judges to sentence offenders directly to home detention.
Between October 15, when the first sentence of home detention was imposed, and February 1 this year, 592 people were sentenced to home detention. This is despite the courts not being fully operational over the Christmas period. Parole Board figures show only 762 prisoners were approved for a similar sentence of home detention in the 12 months to June last year.
Under the old rules the Parole Board was required to interview offenders who were granted leave to apply for home detention by a judge. The Parole Board no longer determines a prisoner's suitability. Judges would act on the same information as the board provided by the Community Probation Service.
CrimProf Brookbanks said the surge in home detention numbers was not surprising."One of the reasons is it's a novel sentence," he said.
"Previously home detention has been tacked onto the end of the prison sentence with the new act it's a sentence in its own right. And I think judges are keen to use it as far as possible to keep people out of jail."
Brookbanks said the trend would put pressure on the Community Probation Service and "could lead to some difficulties in terms of overseeing the vast numbers". Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]
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