Lawyers slam reforms as attack on fair hearing

NZ HERALD 5:00AM Tuesday May 08, 2007

Criminal Justice Reform Bill

  • Aims to reduce the number of people in prison by relaxing bail rules and creating new sentences such as home and community detention to replace jail for less-serious offences.
  • Lengthens non-parole periods to two thirds of a sentence, up from one third and allows no parole for prisoners with jail terms of 12 months or less.
  • Gives the Parole Board power to summon witnesses and keep some information confidential from the prisoner and his or her lawyers. This could, for example, protect the source of the information.
  • Requires that police be told when a prisoner is released on parole.
  • Allows Commissioner of Police to apply to have a paroled prisoner recalled to jail if there is an “undue risk” to public safety.

Barrister Michael Bott said …inmates could not defend themselves if they did not know what was being said about them, and could not challenge the motivation of those given the information.

“It goes against any notion of a fair hearing or natural justice.”

Mr Ellis said the initial law, which aimed to give victims the right to any compensation prisoners got, should never have passed.
“The legislation is not simply unprincipled but would be at home in a fascist state such as Germany under the Nazi regime in 1933.”