Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Justifying theft

I'm wondering how widespread Community Justice Panels (CJPs) are. Perhaps it's just a Christchurch development. I've never heard of such a thing before. It appears a CJP is a panel to which criminal offenders are referred to if there is an element of social injustice motivating their offending. But looking at an example the process looks open to manipulation.

"Police had referred some low-level shoplifters to the Community Justice Panel (CJP), made up of community members who deliver justice on behalf of society.
CJP co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Roy Appley said 17 of the 20 cases heard by the panel since July 1 were for shoplifting. About half of those were single mothers on a benefit with low self-esteem and a poor support network.
In two recent cases, the women were stealing items of clothing for children, while another young mother was stealing items to supplement what she had already bought for her son's birthday because she felt she was not able to give him enough.
In a similar manner Another young woman said she had stolen beauty products because of a low self-image problem. "She wanted to look and feel better," Appley said.
The panel had seen cases in which women were stealing for "hand-to-mouth" necessities, but they were in the minority, he said."

Along similar lines - justifying theft because of social injustice -another child poverty article contains this:

"Mangere Budgeting Services chief executive Darryl Evans said there were hungry children throughout New Zealand, particularly in South Auckland and parts of Christchurch.
His organisation ran a breakfast club at the Southern Cross Campus school in Mangere East. ''We estimated we would get about 30 kids a week turning up, we had 80 on one day.''
Teachers also reported children were having their lunches stolen by other children, he said. ''Not because they're naughty but because they're hungry.'' 

I am troubled by this attitude. Telling offenders that their actions are understandable provides neither a reason why they are wrong, or why they should stop. When theft occurs, at any level, there is a victim.

But I suppose the moral relativists would tell us that by definition 'rich' kids or 'rich' business owners can't be victims.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These bludgers steal hundreds of dollars a week from high-worth, high-value Kiwis. Is there any "community justice panel" for that?