JustSpeak is a network of young people speaking to, and speaking up for a new generation of thinkers who want change in our criminal justice system.
Based on evidence and experience, JustSpeak seeks to create a safer and more just Aotearoa New Zealand by minimising imprisonment, enabling better rehabilitation for offenders, and focusing on the social problems that lead to offending.
JustSpeak partners with OurActionStation to make it easy for New Zealanders to take action together to create a safer and more just country for everyone.
COVID in Our Prisons - An Open Letter to the Justice SectorOver the last two years, a crucial piece of the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been implementing health measures to contain and minimise the spread of the virus. This response has been met with widespread support because, as a country, we have understood that the health and wellbeing of every person in Aotearoa New Zealand is worth protecting. We address this letter to you now out of serious concern over the news of the spread of COVID-19 in prisons in Aotearoa. We call on you to apply a common sense health-based approach to better protect incarcerated people from COVID-19. This matter is urgent. As we are seeing, an Omicron outbreak within New Zealand prisons could easily overwhelm prison health-care services and put pressure on the rest of the healthcare services. Incarcerated people cannot meaningfully practice social distancing or have to forfeit what limited opportunity they have for leisure and social interaction to do so. The ongoing practice of double-bunking makes this even more difficult. Family or whānau visits are similarly restricted under the current Covid Protection Framework settings, adding further pressure and stress. The spread of COVID-19 in prisons particularly puts the health of older people, pregnant people, and those with relevant pre-existing health conditions (including COPD, respiratory illnesses and those with compromised immunity) at risk. There is an unacceptably high risk to Māori in prison, prison staff, whānau and communities from COVID-19. The Government must honour its obligations under Te Tiriti O Waitangi, and prevent this pandemic from further entrenching existing inequities for Māori. Reducing the number of people pulled into the justice system and being held in our prisons is essential to avoid further harm caused to Māori communities, individuals and frontline workers in the courts and prisons. This would also demonstrate the Government’s commitment to partnership and long-term wellbeing as promised in the Police strategy Te Huringa O Te Tai and the Department of Corrections strategy Hōkai Rangi. In signing this open letter, we are calling on the government to take action to protect people in the justice system from COVID-19, including through reducing the prison population, and ensuring effective health and safety measures are being implemented.418 of 500 SignaturesCreated by Kirsten Van Newtown
Repeal and replace the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975Taking a health- and social-based approach to drug use would reduce stigma, meaning that community leaders, educators, health providers and whānau could focus more on prevention and harm reduction, while providing timely and judgement-free treatment or support. It would also mean that medicinal cannabis patients could access affordable relief without fear of prosecution. Prohibition continues to discriminate against Māori and Pasifika, who account for more than half of all cannabis convictions in Aotearoa. Convictions also fall disproportionately on young people. 2019 amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act have failed to shift these unequal outcomes in criminalisation for low-level drug offences. Kākahungia te tangata ki te aroha, kaua ki te whakawhiu - Our people need a cloak of support and care, not punishment and stigma.7,253 of 8,000 SignaturesCreated by Emily Rosenthal
Right to Vote for AllWe believe that in a fair and democratic society all members should have the right to vote, and people living in prisons are part of our society. They are valued members of communities and families. To take away their right to vote is an unfair disenfranchisement We all expect that people in prison have the opportunity to heal and learn so they can contribute to a thriving society when they return to their communities. By not allowing people to vote while in prison, we are removing their ability to invest in and contribute to society and our democratic process. It's cruel and counter-productive. When Parliament changed the law in 2010 they used voting rights as a form of punishment, and this breaches the Bill of Rights. As New Zealanders we seek fairness and community. If we reinstate voting rights for people serving time in prison, it means that come next election time, thousands more people would be able to participate in our democracy, and put their ballot in the box as an investment in their - and our - futures. We believe a thriving society requires the voices of all it's people in order to make decisions that elevate everyone. By including everyone's voices we can have a truly representative democracy.3,769 of 4,000 SignaturesCreated by Kirsten Van Newtown
Raise the Youth Justice age to 21Update: In December 2016, the Government announced that they would raise the age of access to the Youth Justice system to 18 years, this means that most 17 year olds in New Zealand who are charged with a crime in New Zealand will be able to access a justice system designed specifically for young people. This is a great progress towards our goal! Thank you for your support so far, and we hope you'll continue to support this campaign to reach our ultimate goal of all young people in New Zealand being dealt with in our specialist youth courts. Our Youth Justice system is praised around the world. Every year scholars and practitioners come to New Zealand to watch us in action. But as soon as a child turns 17, they're processed through the adult criminal justice system where 91% of under 20s are reconvicted within 2 years after release. Young people need support to help them learn from their mistakes while still holding them accountable to their victims and communities. The adult justice system blindly punishes with no solutions for stopping future harm. Our youth justice system, currently available to 14-16 year olds gets young people on the right track while giving victims a say in the process. We need to raise the age of the youth justice system to 21. You can find out more here: http://justspeak.org.nz/including-17-year-olds-youth-justice-system-facts/4,009 of 5,000 SignaturesCreated by Katie Bruce