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Big gaps in rushed returning offenders’ law

Legislation passed under urgency to have New Zealanders with criminal records monitored when they're sent back from Australia contains some glaring holes, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

“We have a plane load of 20 deportees arriving back in New Zealand this week, and here we are debating a hastily drafted bill, that will have gaps as a result. For starters, there is nothing about reintegrating prisoners. Being in work or training, having somewhere to live and having community support are crucial to preventing reoffending.

 

“The Government has been aware the Australians were clamping down on Kiwis living across the ditch for more than a year, yet the Minister of Justice confirmed today that the drafting of this Bill only started at the end of October.

“Back in April last year the Government put in a place Extended Supervision Orders to allow high risk offenders who have been sentenced overseas to be monitored here in New Zealand, but didn’t think to establish a broader regime at the same time.

“Why did the government wait so long and how many of the offenders who have already been returned will go completely unmonitored as a result?

“Not only that, but part of the regime for monitoring serious offenders has to be triggered by Corrections, and we’ve seen enough departmental failures in recent times to have grave concerns about that.

“The Government estimates an average 100 people at any one time will be subject to monitoring.  Given we don’t have the staff or the technology to cope with current demand, that’s a recipe for disaster,” Jacinda Ardern says.