Stuff asked the following question
A corrections “policy” meant a woman murdered in her own home by a neighbour was never notified he was on parole for rape.
Joseph James Brider, 35, was out of jail for just 10 weeks before killing Juliana Cayena Bonilla Herrera.
Do we need a law requiring communities to be told of violent offenders being sent to live amidst them?
Below is Stuart Smith’s response.
There is no easy answer on how to solve this problem. Most violent criminals are eventually let out after serving a prison sentence.
The government have stated that they want to reduce the prison population. That inevitably will lead to violent prisoners getting out sooner and or potentially receiving shorter sentences. These are violent people who harmed others, and they should face the full force of the law to account for their actions and to protect the public.
For violent criminals especially, we need to ensure that there are effective parole conditions in place that allow for a thorough assessment of the offenders for the sake of public safety.
As for providing a notification to surrounding residents that an ex-convict is living in their area, there is certainly merit in the idea.
We have similar notifications for child sex offenders, where neighbouring residents in the vicinity of a registered child offender are notified so that any children in the area can be kept out of harm’s way. If we were to support and eventually adopt a new law which would see the same notification process for violent criminals, we would need to see evidence that it would prevent future offending.
We also need to get the balance right. For some criminals who have gone to prison and been rehabilitated, would it be fair to provide their conviction history to their neighbours? It is important we strike the right balance between keeping people safe and respecting those who have served their sentence and turned their lives around.
Ultimately, if notifying surrounding residents gives them peace of mind and can save them from what happened to Ms Herrera, then we owe it to New Zealanders to consider changing the law to allow neighbours to be notified of a violent criminal living in their area.
Stuart Smith is a N Z National Party politician who has been a member of the House of Representatives for the Kaikōura electorate since 2014. This article was first published HERE