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To: House of Representatives

Protect First Responders: #SayNo to Revenge Based Policy

Protect First Responders: #SayNo to Revenge Based Policy

We ask you, the members of Parliament to oppose the Protection for First Responders and Correction Officers Bill and work to provide solutions that prevent first responders from being harmed in the first place.

Many of the people this Bill will affect will be people suffering from extreme trauma, addiction, mental illness and mental distress.

Punitive, revenge based policies do not help to address violent crime. Many people who commit these crimes are not safe, stable, or in a sound mind at the time that the crime occurs.

The Protection for First Responders and Police officers Bill will not succeed in keeping our brave frontline staff safe, and instead will only punish vulnerable people who need help, increasing our prison population in the process.

Our hope is that parliament will not proceed with this bill, but rather will redirect its energy into providing solutions that will mitigate the risk that our First Responders and Prison Officers face, with the goal of focusing on prevention, rather than punishment.

Your signature will be delivered together with others as a petition to Andrew Little, the Minister of Justice, prior to the Second Reading of this bill

Why is this important?

To those who supported in our submission to the select committee, we thank you for your support so far. Yet, we're not there yet. The Bill will still go forward to it's Second Reading, and parliament will get another chance to vote on it. If you want our politicians to #SayNo and #EndRevengeBasedJustice, than please read/sign

We are concerned that the Protection for First Responders and Prison Officers Bill fails to provide a solution to the issue which it seeks to address.

This bill fails to recognize that many of the people who will be affected by this bill are not in a rational or calm state of mind during the time these assaults occur. Many of the people affected by this bill will be punished for an action which they did not have full control over at the time of the offence. People who were not making a calculated decision to harm someone, but who were in fact reacting out of the pain and trauma they were experiencing. People who are - no doubt - severely distressed, mentally ill, intoxicated, or any combination of the above at the time the offence occurs.

We also know that that the justice system disproportionately causes harm to Maori, the poor, and the mentally ill. This bill, if it goes through, will only send more of our most vulnerable into the prison system.

If this bill goes through it will have catastrophic consequences for our community. When you send one of our whanau to jail, it does not just affect the individual. It harms all of us. The children left behind without parents, the partners left alone to manage on their own, the whanau and friends who have to struggle with the stigma and loss of losing someone they love.

It is also known that the prison system is inherently harmful, and is failing to rehabilitate violent offenders, instead it actively does harm to individuals imprisoned within it, traumatizing them further, before sending them back into the community. Thus, this bill also makes the environment in which First Responders and Prison Officers work in more dangerous, putting them at greater risk.

This bill will not prevent people from assaulting First Responders or Prison Officers, instead it will succeed only in increasing our prison numbers.

If the Government is serious about keeping First Responders and Prison Officers safe, than they must commit themselves to improving the conditions in which they work. This means taking seriously the root causes, and addressing the systemic issues that lie beneath this violence. A serious commitment to our First Responders safety would address the impacts of colonization and generational trauma, would look at dealing with poverty, increasing support for our under resourced mental health and addiction services, and would fast track the reform of our current Justice system in order to ensure that it heals victims, and restores those who perpetrate crime back to healing and wholeness.

Instead of seeking punitive responses to complex problems, we believe parliament would be better served using our time and resources seeking real solutions. For example:

★ Focus on prevention (as outlined above).

★ Review the calibre and frequency of de-escalation and assessment training provided to First Responders and Prison Officers.

★ Provide ongoing de-escalation and assessment training to all professionals working on the front line.

★ Provide intensive training for all first responders and prison officers around addiction, mental illness, and the effects of trauma and colonization. Build understanding within our frontline workers so that they are equipped to identify the risks and respond accordingly. Knowledge is power, and the more our First Responders and Prison Officers understand about the complex challenges facing people within our community, the more equipped they will be to deescalate tensions and provide a compassionate and effective response.

★ Bring back the previous governments plan to create a mental health team equipped to support the Police and our First Responders in de-escalating and caring for people in crisis and suffering from mental distress.

★ Review whether First Responders and Prison Officers have the right support to manage these high and complex situations they are being asked to walk into. Are they staffed adequately to deal with these situations? Do they have adequate safety and support plans in place to mitigate the risks they are dealing with? If not, the Government must fully resource these services, providing them with what they need to do the job safely.

To protect our First Responders and Prison Officers we must provide solutions that prevent them from being harmed in the first place.

The concern we have with the Protection for First Responders and Prison Officers Bill is that it fails to actually address the concerns it seeks to highlight. It will not prevent our First Responders and Prison Officers from being assaulted, and will only punish the very people who need our help and assistance the most.

Our hope is that parliament will not proceed with this bill, but rather will redirect it’s energy into providing solutions that will mitigate the risk that our First Responders and Prison Officers face, with the goal of preventing these assaults from happening in the first place.

If you would like to read more about this bill you can do so here: - Revenge Based Justice Wont Keep First Responders Safe: https://www.noted.co.nz/currently/currently-crime/revenge-justice-wont-keep-new-zealands-first-responders-safe
- Law Society, Law Change not Necessary in order to Protect First Responders: http://www.voxy.co.nz/politics/5/359870

Updates

2020-03-12 23:51:20 +1300

See our latest piece in When Lambs Are Silent by Robert Moore from Anglican Action. Have a read and share it round. Lets get the message out there.

"Bill English described prisons as a ‘moral and fiscal failure’... We cannot afford – in any sense of the word – to continue treating incarceration as a solution. New Zealanders deserve better and we want leadership that support that."

https://wp.me/p8jtZf-a3

2020-03-12 20:53:00 +1300

100 signatures reached

2020-03-10 22:35:49 +1300

From our piece in the Spinoff today.

"Instead of keeping first responders and prison officers safe, this bill will do damage – not only to the individuals who are sent to prison, but also to our entire community. And it will put our first responders at greater risk."

https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/10-03-2020/nz-firsts-first-responders-bill-is-about-vengeance-not-justice/

2020-03-10 17:58:47 +1300

50 signatures reached

2020-03-10 17:07:58 +1300

Wow, we have almost reached 50 supporters, and we haven't even been going for a day yet.

Why not share with your friends, let's see if we can reach 100 by the end of today!

2020-03-10 13:10:23 +1300

25 signatures reached

2020-03-10 11:28:25 +1300

10 signatures reached