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Father & Child Magazine Issue #30

Warm Fuzzies; Shiney happy (little) people; Bigger … and better; Welcome to Playcentre; The Last Word-Opinion

Contents

  • Warm Fuzzies: Just the thing for winter. Stories from fathers to make you feel warm on the inside. A collection of short anecdotes about special times between fathers and their children.
  • Shiney Happy (Little) People: Our children can teach us a lot about self esteem and happiness. Brendon Smith found this out at a recent princess fairy party, staying just long enough to make some important observations.
  • Bigger … and Better: There are still couples around who choose to have large families with many children. Hugh Joughin steps inside two of these households, and talks to the Dads.
  • Welcome to Playcentre: Life at Playcentre from the fathers perspective.
  • The Last Word-Opinion

Editorial

Imprisonment Culture

New Zealand has the second highest imprisonment rate in the Western world, beaten only by the US of A.

Per head of population we throw more people into prison than Canada, Australia or the UK, and a whopping five times as many as those countries at the bottom of the list, such as Sweden.

Prisoners do not really come from all walks of life, either. Most are from certain subsections or subcultures of society at the bottom of the socio-economic scale. With an imprisonment rate like that (150 people per 100,000 population) it is disturbingly normal for a large number of kids that daddy, and uncle or cousin, or even an auntie or mummy, have had a stint behind bars. Look at an average visitation session at any prison and you see scores of kids.

How much of a deterrent is prison going to be for these kids once they’ve grown up a little more? Will they think that daddy is in prison because he has done something wrong, or will they think that the state and the police are just bad, because they took daddy away?

Unfortunately that may not be entirely off the mark. Too often, convictions are made in District Courts on nothing else but hearsay evidence and a judge’s personal conviction of who to believe and who not to. Do spend some time in a District Court and attend a trial or two if you need to be convinced of the randomness of outcomes of such court cases.

You or I would never accept a verdict as they are made dozens of times every day, because we have not grown up with first-hand experience of the Court and we would get ourselves a proper lawyer. But if you have to make do with a state-paid defense lawyer, who has no interest in the outcome either way, no conviction is ever challenged. Justice at this level is whimsical and people affected by imprisonment, either directly or indirectly, do not generally believe that justice has been done.

So how could their kids?

Our childhood experience of justice hugely affects how we see justice as adults. And if someone you love is being imprisoned, it is hard to be objective, even if the imprisonment is justified. If you’re a kid, there is only loss and hurt – and anger towards those who took them away.

With the prison population on the rise, and a public that sees our justice system as still too soft, prison will remain a normal part of life for thousands of kids in New Zealand. Kids that will never have a chance.
Perhaps our next Minister of Justice should be from Sweden.

Harald Breiding-Buss

Next: Warm Fuzzies

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