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Prison Justice for Bell

  • December 10th, 2007

I hear that William Bell, the RSA murderer, has been seriously injured in a prison attack, apparently out of resentment at special treatment he was getting (as the longest stay prisoner).

Prison violence is deplorable. Many will feel glad Bell is hurt though though not all will admit it. That satisfaction is dangerous to the rule of law. Nevertheless I admit to sharing it, sadly,  because official justice will never be done in his case. It will not exact for the victims’ families the balancing price they are owed, anywhere near the suffering he caused.

The fact that the attack succeeded is equally worrying.

Our once adequate prison system is now a disgrace.  As the recent Graeme Burton inquest showed, monsters have intimidated management in prisons. Well meaning politicians have set the monsters free, by trying to eliminate over-officious or abusive prison guarding. 

When prison officers lost their prompt disciplinary discretions, when every disciplinary matter can be appealed, or forced into review a power vacuum becomes inevitable. Criminals simply do not respect what appears to be wimpishness.  Predictably the vacuum has been filled – by the most powerful and vicious criminals.

Uncontrollable prisons are among many gifts to New Zealand  of lawyer-fools. Babbling ‘natural justice’ and ‘accountability’ and ‘protection’ they impose hindsight liabilities on decisionmakers everywhere. In practice the lawyers are seizing power from the people on the spot who have to live with the consequences.

They’re still busy neutering true accountability in  schools,  places of employment, and everywhere else they can inject their procedural grit.


  • Stuart
  • December 11th, 2007
  • 5:52 pm

Prison guards should be armed and in control – absolute control – at all times. No contraband in prisons, none, period, zero tolerance. No priviledges. Prisoners work six days a week, chain gangs or whatever. No recogniton of gangs, none, period. No intimidation of anyone, no violence tolerated, no rape or threat of rape, no TV’s etc, just basics. Recidivists receive harsher penalties. Parole system revamped. Build more prisons if needed – doesn’t matter how many are imprisoned as they can’t re-offend when inside. This is good. Chances of above happening…??

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