Indifference to offenders breeds violence

Venkat Raman – 

Throwing people into prison for offences would alone not bring down crime and there is a need to engage in conversation with the offenders and help them.

That is the view of Dr Kim Workman, a Social Justice advocate and a former Police-Officer-turned-Prison Reformer, with decades of experience in the field of law enforcement, and more importantly, in the field of prisoner management and rehabilitation.

He has introduced restorative justice conferences into prisons with ex-prisoner Jackie Katounas.

“Social Policy is formed in the absence of external dialogue. No government in the last 30 years has, in developing criminal justice policy, seen fit to consult with prisoners,” he said, speaking at the graduation ceremony at the Manawatu Campus of Massey University on May 10, 2017.

The University awarded him an honorary Doctorate at the Ceremony held for graduates at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Government apathy

“Unwillingness by the state to include prisoners in discussions about rehabilitation is one of the factors that has contributed to New Zealand’s dire crime statistics. As a result, we have developed a ‘criminology of the other,’ in which offenders are stereotyped as members of a dangerous under-class,” he said.

Dr Walkman believes that there should be opportunity and space to talk within our own communities of interest, to raise consciousness, and plan for challenge and change.

“We also need to create places to listen to ‘communities of the other’, to constantly challenge our own attitudes. Governments must be more innovative. This might mean taking risks – introducing effective approaches to rehabilitation may conflict with the political and public emphasis on punishment,” he said.

“The current resistance to the establishment of Kaupapa Maori prisons is a case in point. The success of Kaupapa Maori education and health services would suggest that a Kaupapa Maori prison might stand a better chance of success than what currently exists, given the poor reoffending rates achieved,” Dr Workman said.

A more detailed report appears Viewlink, along with our Editorial, “Remove the cause, not the symptoms.”


Photo Caption:

Dr Kim Workman

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