Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Bailey Junior Kurariki Applies for Parole

Kurariki is one of the killers of Michael Choy, who was beaten up by a gang when he was lured to an address to deliver pizza. He subsequently died on the lawn of his parent's home, having staggered back there before collapsing, unable to summon help, just yards from resuce.

Kuraiki was twelve at the time of the attack. He has now served the majority of his six year sentence and has applied for parole.

His fiance, understandably, does not want him paroled. She wants him to stay in jail until he has completed his sentence. (1)

I'm not disputing that. I just wonder, though, if there is any point in releasing Kuraiki at all. I mean, will he have received the help he needs to actually fit back into society? He's done something terrible. The guilt of it - assumnig he is not a psychopath and is capable of feeling guilt - will be immense. it will prey on him. It might take the form of denial of responsibility. He might try to transfer the guilt onto others, because facing up to something like that must be almost unbearable.

I wonder how much help he has received while he has been in jail. has he received any counselling, therapy, call it what you will and please put away the sneers. If we don't try to help people, they won't get better. Particualrly someone like Kurariki, who is still in his teens. In all likelihood, the issues that made him party to a savage murder won't have been addressed. Realistically, he isn't going to be able to face up to them, even if he were so minded. Realistically, he isn't going to be minded to, he's going to have to be forced to confront what he did. I doubt that will have hppened, because (inspite of the constant chorus of the hang 'em, flog 'em brigade) there isn't much focus on helping prisoners rehabilitate themselves. There isn't enough moeny or manpower in the system for that.

Nigel Latta, who was involved in the Choy trial, wrote about Kurariki in his book 'into the Darklands.' His role was trying to make thre trial process comprehensible to the accused. He describes how this idea was met with howlds of protest about how the accused shouldn't be molly-coddled like that, who cares if they could understand what was going on, why should they get special treatment, et cetera. His response was simple:

"[The recommendation I made] were about how the trial might be run so that the
young accused would have the best shot at gaining some understanding of what
they'd done, the impact of their offending ... I believed it was important for
these young people to participate in their trial for no other reason than to
understand what they'd really done. A man was dead. This was no exercise in
liberal excuse making. ; I wanted them to listen, to see, to understand." (2)
Beyond the trial, however, has anything really been done to carry on from this? Most of those involved in the killing ill be released in the next few years. Will they have been helped to come to terms with their crime, and given guidance to steer them away from re-offending? I doubt it, but I hope they have. More likely, they'll come out more hardened and savage than they went in, and will sooner re-offend, at which point the howling mob (read: Sensible Sentencing (3)) will scream "We told you so! You can't help these people! This latest offense is the fault of the liberal do-gooders with their constant prattle about rehabilitation and kindness!" But it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The people who commit crimes like this are in desperate need of help. In a way, I agree with Sensible Sentencing - if we aren't going to help them, we might as well lock them up forever. They won't face up to what they have done, because it is too ghastly. they need to be given help, otherwise, we simply release a monster back onto the streets, with inevitable, tragic consequences. But, unlike the Garth McVicar and his cohorts, I think we aren't even tryng to help them at this stage. We aren't doing anything, why are we surprised that the damaged, shambolic excuses for people that lurch through the courts and into jail and then out again, don't magically fix themselves? Come on, get real. We need to really work with these people.

Sadly, I think Kurariki will be back in jail befor elong, playing out his bleak little tragedy, which could have been avoided, if we weren't so obssessed with punishment and exacting revenge. Because, as Michael Choy's fiance knows, no amount of vengance will ever really be enough: she described her misery, and that of Michael's family as "a never-ending story."

1 -'He took away my life, let him stay in jail' - Choy's fiancee, NZPA story, 10th July 2007. http://www.stuff.co.nz/4123178a10.html
2 - Into the Darklands: Unveilling the Predators Among Us, by Nigel latta, published by Harper Collins, 2005, pages 178-9.
3 - Sensible Sentencing website, linked 10th July 2007. http://www.safe-nz.org.nz/

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