“Justice Minister Ginny Andersen will not rule out making changes to Section 27 of the Sentencing Act, after ACT revealed that the use of cultural reports to ensure criminals gain softer sentences has exploded,” says ACT’s Justice spokesperson Nicole McKee.

“Upon pointing out recent examples of offenders receiving substantially reduced sentences following cultural reports, Andersen said “that is a completely unacceptable circumstance for any person to be subjected to… I’m keen to get a fuller understanding of whether the use of Section 27 reports remains fit for purpose and I’m not ruling out further changes at this point in time.”

“The Minister needs to stick to her word, and she should incorporate ACT’s long-held policy to get rid of cultural reports. The only people currently benefitting from the system are criminals and those involved in the cottage industry producing the reports.

“They say justice is blind, but in New Zealand we appear to hand out massively reduced sentences for criminals who have had troubled upbringings. ACT says we need to focus on the victims.

“In the 12 months to June 30 this year, $7.56 million was spent on cultural reports compared to $5.91 million in the same period a year before. That’s a 27 per cent increase.

“We also need to ask ourselves if this money is best spent going to consultants, or being used to help with rehabilitation and supporting victims. 

“In the last week we have seen two egregious examples of how cultural reports are being used to favour criminals and go soft on victims. Firstly, Matu Reid shot and killed two innocent people in Auckland last week. Despite facing a potential seven-year prison sentence for violent crimes, including strangulation that fractured a women’s neck, Reid only received home detention partly thanks to sentence discounts as a result of a cultural report. Under the Three Strikes regime that Labour scrapped, the strangulation offence would have counted as a strike.

“Secondly, a young Mongrel Mob member received home detention despite sexually assaulting a pregnant woman in her home and continuing to threaten the young woman after the assault. Upon sentencing, the offender said “Thank you judge. I appreciate that”, then laughed as he entered the police cells and yelled “Cracked it”. This is clearly a young man with no intention of getting rehabilitated.

“These men might have had hard lives, but protection of the community and the rights of victims must come first.

“The whole system of section 27 cultural reports is rotten, and ACT will end it.”

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