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May 14, 2012 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Justice League Fights Evil

More than 100 young people gathered last Tuesday to drill a cross-party panel of Members of Parliament on their ideas about justice. The forum was organised by youth-led justice policy reform group JustSpeak.

Questions–sourced from young people through social media–were put to the panel made up of Chester Borrows (National), Charles Chauvel (Labour), Metiria Turei (Green), Hone Harawira (Mana), and Asenati Lole-Taylor (New Zealand First).

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei prompted one of the most enthusiastic responses from the audience when suggesting that society takes too narrow of a view of what a ‘justice’ system includes.

“We don’t have a justice system, we have a legal system which picks up the pieces after we fail to put what is just first,” she told the crowd.

An issue of concern which emerged in the questions was whether MPs preferred to target spending on incarceration or rehabilitation of offenders.

Panelists agreed that more focus was needed on rehabilitation, however Burrows said that in some cases it was necessary to close and replace older prisons where conditions were no longer habitable.

The audience expressed sympathy for Chauvel’s warning that by next year 25 per cent of the country’s prison system will be privately-owned.

Students generally said they were impressed with how engaged the politicians were. Some, however, were skeptical.

“I just wish the policies matched the korero,” one reflected.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira concluded his remarks with a challenge to students.

“Do [politicians] have the courage to do anything intelligent about this? Nah we don’t! So don’t look to us, look to yourselves to force us,” he said.

More information on JustSpeak can be found at facebook.com/justspeaknz

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