Saturday, October 13, 2007

What does one have to do?

I see Roger Kahui was convicted yesterday to 16 years in prison for rape. Now that sounds rather harsh! But to me it is not enough. This guy on a pretense got a woman to let him in to her house and for four hours brutally raped her. She only got away because he made a mistake and she was able to run to a nearby petrol station and get help. Kahui before this had spent half his life in jail and had been convicted 130 times! One NZ Herald article notes that this number would be far higher if he had not been in prison so much!

Now I am all for restorative justice to a point. It is good to see the reconciliation of victim and perpetrator, to see both parties fully restored. I do not like jail in many ways, the gathering together of criminals in what often turns out to be a school of crime. It also leads, as in the case of Kahui, to criminals who cannot function on the outside and repeatedly offend to go back to jail. Several years ago a guy walked into our house in Henderson and stole my wallet. He used my credit card to buy nearly a $1000 worth of alcohol. He did over $60,000 worth of crime that same day, brazenly stealing cards and items from shops until he was arrested. He wanted to go back inside, that was where he felt 'at home!' So there are problems with our system. Where possible I think we should work to rehabilitation and restoration.

However, there is a time when a person should go inside and stay inside. Why? Because there is also a need to balance restorative and punitive justice with protective justice. When I read a story like Kahui's, while I feel compassion for him, and there are reasons his life is a mess, he must be incarcerated indefinitely to protect society from him. I think the same of all extreme rapists, child abusers and murders that are premeditated and especially extreme. Certainly where a person repeats such violent crime, they should not ever be released again. I do not agree with the death penalty, to me the gospel clearly stands against the taking of life for a life (see Mt 5). However, there is a time to castrate or neuter a repeat sexual abuser, and to incarcerate indefinitely. Indeed, what better way to ponder one's crime than being inside indefinitely. I believe this experience should also be gruelling, if not inhumane.

What about false convictions? True, there will be some injustice and errors made. However, if one does not apply the death penalty, then the way is left open for the Joe Karam's and others of this world, to fight the injustice. I would rather see the odd mistake made with life-long consequences and the children and women of this society protected, than to have people like Kahui given a second chance in society.

I am all for restorative justice up to the point of these extreme perpretrators. I would like to see society pour more resources into victim support and care. Where we have an extreme case of violence or a residivist criminal, there is a time to say, ENOUGH! You can spend the rest of your days contemplating what you have done, considering facing God for your crime, and I pray, these people will find repentance.

And we have to work as a society to see the number of Kahui's minimised. We as the church have to be agents of helping people with parenting, helping men find other ways of dealing with their problems other than violence and anger, providing healing environments for the broken. We need to train NZers in parenting, marriage, anger management. I think actually, these should become an essential part of the NZ education system. We as the church should be seeking to go to the schools of our communities and take values training into these homes. We have a crisis.

For all that, there must be a time when a person loses the privilege of existing in our communities and Kahui is one of them. The Government has a responsibility to protect us! Women deserve protection. Children deserve protection! What does one have to do?

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