Monday, October 17, 2022

Stuart Smith: Should Residents Know If Violent Ex-Convicts Live Near?

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.

The story about Juliana Herrera is tragic and a situation that should never have happened. No matter where you choose to live, you can’t choose your neighbours. Devastatingly, Ms Herrera was the victim of a brutal murder by a neighbour who had recently been released from prison and moved into the unit next to her without her knowing.

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 KaikĊura electorate since 2014. This article was first published HERE

1 comment:

Terry Morrissey said...

The buck must obviously stop with the Parole Board. They are responsible for allowing these offenders to be released. Would they be happy having a convicted violent offender living next to them? Would they be comfortable having one of these people living in their neighbourhood? They are responsible for this woman's death if she had not been made aware of the offenders proximity. Particularly since it should have been made obvious to the Parole Board, by Corrections, that this offender had not been adequately rehabilitated. However under the present Corrections ideology it would not surprise me that the information on the offender's level of rehabilitation was not made clear, to keep within their policy of reducing prison populations. Another fail for Davis and the labour cult.