In the 10-part series What's the Plan? The Herald's political and specialist reporters examine the big issues facing New Zealand and how the main political parties plan to deal with them. Here, Derek Cheng compares the policies for law and order.
Crimes, victimisations, gang members and policing numbers are all on the rise as parties jockey for the law and order vote this election.
But the broader issue is the call for widespread reform following several scathing independent reports, which say the criminal justice system is failing victims, offenders and Māori, while not focusing enough on the drivers of crime.
Those reports urgently call for more community-based justice to maximise rehabilitation and highlight how successive governments' focus on punishment has shaped a system that makes criminals more likely to re-offend while leaving victims unsupported.
The Government response to the reports has been lukewarm, and who the system is actually serving remains an open question.
Political parties generally agree on big-picture issues such as the need to alleviate poverty, intervene early in dysfunctional households, and provide more mental health and addiction services - not only for prisoners but for communities.
But resourcing to tackle these issues is still viewed as not nearly enough, however, despite the Government pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into this work.
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Meanwhile, recorded crime is on the rise, with the latest statistics showing a 6.6 per cent increase in total victimisations in the year to May 2020; assaults were up 13.7 per cent, while thefts rose by 5.6 per cent and burglaries rose by 4.6 per cent.
This is partly explained by the increase in police numbers. The previous National-led Government had committed to boosting police numbers by 880, and then Labour and NZ First agreed to 1800 new cops this term.
This was achieved at the end of last year, even though the goal posts had shifted from 1800 net additional cops to 1800 new ones; there are about 1300 net additional cops this term.
Seven hundred of the 1800 new cops have been put into organised crime units, and the Government is also considering firearm prohibition orders to give police more power to disarm gangs.
National has proposed a suite of measures to target gangs: a Strike Force Raptor-like police unit, a ban on gang insignia in public places, harsher sentences for gang-related crime, tougher parole conditions for gang members, and the ability for police to seize gang assets unless the gang can prove they were lawfully acquired.
Meanwhile, the Government has averted a crisis of bulging prisons, with the prison population peaking at 10,820 in March 2018 and falling to just over 9000 at the start of September - about 800 lower than forecast.
The most recent forecast - 11,400 prisoners by June 2029 - is far lower than previous projections, but is still thousands more than the Government's goal to cut the prison muster by 30 per cent by 2033.
The pressure is mainly coming from the remand prisoner population, which is rising because of tougher bail laws in 2013, an increase in crimes with longer sentences, and over-stretched resources dragging out court proceedings.
Some of that pressure has been offset by better helping prisoners apply for bail and parole, and more prosecution staff to lighten the case load.
It is too early to see the impact of Hōkai Rangi, Corrections' new strategy that focuses on whānau-centred engagement to sway inmates away from a life of crime.
The aim is to reduce recidivism rates and the number of Māori in the system.
Sixty two per cent of convicts re-offend within two years of leaving prison, and while Māori make up 16.5 per cent of the general population, they are 38 per cent of police proceedings, 42 per cent of people convicted, and 51 per cent of all prisoners.
The Government's noises about expanding Māori-led justice processes has had little follow-through.
Labour argues its hands have been tied by coalition differences as well as the limited financial resources due to the Covid-19 response.
But Labour is also reluctant to drive transformational change without public support, which can be difficult to muster when the policy debate is generally framed as being "tough" or "soft" on crime.
Labour and the Greens say they want to expand victim-led restorative justice meetings and alternative processes such as the Rangatahi and Pasifika Youth Courts, Iwi Community Panels and the Matariki Court pilot - many of which were started under National.
The Māori Party also supports these initiatives but in the context of a separate criminal justice system based on Te Tiriti o Waitangi and tikanga Māori.
Labour and the Greens generally want offenders to spend less time in prison where appropriate, given that the longer they stay behind bars, the higher the chance of reoffending.
This is supported in a 2018 justice report by Sir Peter Gluckman, former chief science advisor to the PM: "Prisons are extremely expensive training grounds for further offending, building criminal skills, damaging their employment, accommodation and family prospects, and compounding mental health and substance use issues."
Tougher sentences also do little to deter crime - which was reinforced by a Court of Appeal decision last year - but Labour and the Greens' wish to repeal the three strikes law was kiboshed by NZ First.
Labour generally wants to increase access to justice, allow legal representation for families at Coroner's inquests, and set up safe houses for people on bail to ease pressure on the remand prisoner population.
While Labour is reluctant to revisit bail laws, the Greens and the Māori Party want them reviewed along with sentencing laws.
Labour, National and the Greens all want to expand the alcohol and other drug treatment courts, which look at a therapeutic rather than a punitive outcome; Labour has put funding aside for a new such court in Hawke's Bay.
National wants to support offenders to rehabilitate, but it also wants serious criminals to do more of their sentence behind bars.
National also wants a new category - Young Serious Offenders - who will get therapy and mentoring but can also be sent to youth justice facilities for up to 12 months.
And it wants the Victim Notification Register, which informs victims about offenders' release or parole hearings, to be opt-out instead of opt-in.
Act and NZ First support mandatory minimum sentences, Act for burglaries (on a third strike) and NZ First for violent and sexual offenders, and for people who assault first responders or Corrections Officers (which was proposed in a bill this term but rejected by National and Labour).
NZ First also wants longer sentences for fleeing drivers, bigger fines for texting while driving and shoplifting, and cumulative sentences for offences committed while on parole, on bail, or in custody.
These policies would put more pressure on prison capacity.
But NZ First also wants a greater range of non-custodial sentences, such as property confiscation or larger fines, while Act wants reduced sentences for those that do literacy programmes.
'We can change those beliefs and not pass them to our kids'
Tyson Matenga has spent 12 of his 30 years behind bars, watching his four kids grow up in photos.
He went in when he was 17 years old, got out three months ago, and is now in Gisborne.
"There are times when I think maybe I'm better off inside. You don't need a job," he told the Herald.
"I tell people sometimes I just want to go back. They tell me to not be stupid, but there's a lot of stress out here.
"Without a job, it's tempting to sell drugs or do something bad to make income."
Matenga says his criminal record is too long to fit on some of the job applications he's filled out.
His criminal history involves violent offending and reckless driving causing injury - a head-on crash he caused in 2016 as he was fleeing police.
"When I first went to jail, I had a lot of authority issues. Probation and prison officers and others, I just treated them the same as cops."
But it wasn't just the "us and them" culture, and he realised he needed to own his mistakes.
"It was my own beliefs holding me back. Once I decided I wanted to get out of jail, it helped a lot."
In 2017, he took part in Corrections' Special Treatment Unit Rehabilitation Programme - for violent offenders with a high risk of reoffending - and confronted his history of family violence.
The first step was to write an autobiography and then read it out to everyone.
"The therapist tells us why we are how we are, how our core beliefs were formed. They make us aware that we can change those beliefs and not pass them to our kids.
"The biggest one for me was being aware of my emotions. Growing up, I was only aware of happy, sad or angry. When I got frustrated or confused, I couldn't identify those feelings.
"Now once I know when I'm getting frustrated, I just walk away and take a breather, take some time out, go see my kids or something like that."
The programme spurred him into trying to find answers about why his brother committed suicide.
He has now set up a Taking Isn't Weak Facebook page to help people with depression.
In his last prison stint, Matenga did NCEA courses in fitness, and when he was released Corrections helped him with setting up a bank account and getting an 18+ ID card.
And now he's found work teaching kick-boxing at a local Gisborne gym.
"If you want help in prison, there are good courses. It's whether you want to do it."
Law and order: The policies
• Scrap three strikes, overhaul court processes for rape trials
• Reduce prison population by 30 per cent by 2033, develop Māori wāhine rehab programme
• More alcohol and other drugs treatment courts, expand meth programme Te Ara Oranga
• Explore safe houses for those on bail
• Special force within the police to focus on gangs; ban on gang insignia in public places; harsher sentences for gang-related crime
• New category - Young Serious Offenders - who could spend up to 12 months in a youth justice facility
• Victim Notification Register to be opt-out instead of opt-in
• 'Clean Start' helping first-time prisoners to be released to a location away from where crime took place
• Review sentencing, bail and parole laws
• Gradual replacement of most prisons with community-based rehabilitation approach
• More funding for literacy and skills training, and mental health and addiction treatment - in prisons and the wider community
• An Independent Prison Inspectorate and Independent Victims Commissioner
• Add burglary to three strikes regime. A third burglary strike would be three years' jail
• Reduced sentences for prisoners who complete literacy programmes and driver licence tests
• Police to focus more on serious crime rather than traffic offences or petty drug use
• Repeal the Arms Act and scrap proposed national firearms register
• 1000 new police, and an independent review on arming police
• Mandatory minimum sentences for serious violent and sexual offenders
• Harsher penalties for fleeing drivers and those who assault first responders
• Review Sentencing Act to focus on victims' rights first, then the community, and offenders' rights last
• A separate system for Māori based on restorative justice and founded on Te Tiriti o Waitangi and tikanga Māori
• Repeal three strikes law
• Repeal bail laws
• A culturally competent police force stamping out racism based on Te Tiriti o Waitangi