There is no evidence cultural reports reduce reoffending and cutting funding for them will save money, the Justice Minister says.
The Government confirmed Wednesday that it was scrapping the target to reduce prison populations and would no longer fund the cultural reports used in sentencing.
Asked whether the reports might actually save money by avoiding prison sentences and stopping people from committing further crimes, Paul Goldsmith said there was no evidence of that.
The 2500 reports prepared last year cost $7.5 million, Goldsmith told Morning Report.
“Obviously there is a tension between understanding one’s background, but there’s a further step to turning that into an excuse for crime.”
“We don’t think spending $7.5m producing reports like this is a good use of the money,” Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith said people could still give a cultural report orally in court, or in writing, but it would no longer be funded through the legal aid system.
“The whole legal aid budget is tight, we want to be spending that wisely.”
“We do the best we can with the resources that we’ve got and we don’t think spending $7.5m producing reports like this is a good use of the money.”
The Government was focused on reducing crime and ensuring people served their sentences, he said.
Labour’s deputy leader Carmel Sepuloni told First Up ditching cultural reports was short-sighted and people should be concerned.
“These can support with reducing reoffending, these can support with ensuring that people that don’t need to go to jail don’t go to jail.
“We are all aware of the fact that incarceration can have other negative implications for a person’s life moving forward.”
“If someone can be supported ... in a way where they don’t have to go to jail and then their chances can be reduced with regard to reoffending then why wouldn’t we go down that track,” said Labour deputy leader Carmel Sepuloni
Sepuloni said the Government appeared set on creating “mega prisons” with expanding populations which would cost taxpayers money and increase future criminal activity.
Individual high-profile cases had raised public concern but the Government’s decision was not based on evidence, she said.