Make the punishment fit the crime

Image credit: Radio New Zealand

An 18 year old, Lima Feleti Feleti, who in a fit of anger accidentally killed his 19 year old co-worker, Hamuwera Holloway, was convicted and given 10 months home detention by Judge Kit Toogood in the Auckland High Court this week. Quot

“Sending you to prison would do you great harm and would do the community no good,” he said.

  Otago Daily Times end of quote

Yes, prisons full of convicted felons won’t change this young man for the better, but his future involvement in the community needs to be much better managed. A light sentence of sitting on the couch for ten months at home with the family who have already failed him does not cut it.

There was absolutely no consideration given to the victim’s family in this case. Apparently they, and their dead son, no longer matter. The judge has moved on and so should they. Heartless treatment.

This lenient sentence must have been difficult for them, and they have absolutely no assurance that Feleti won’t reoffend. It’s 50/50, a flip of the coin. Not good enough. 

Surely there is community work he could perform as reparation for the serious harm done? Or obligatory financial reparation made from his future employment? Money that might go into a fund for judges to disburse as they see fit for funeral expenses, victim compensation or to fund rehabilitation. Quote.

A pre-sentence sentence report writer said Feleti was a low-risk of reoffending, but raised concerns about his ability to deal with conflict in the future.

To this end, Feleti had begun attending a Living Without Violence programme and had offered to meet with Holloway’s wh?nau “to engage in restorative justice” and explain how sorry he was for what he had done.End of quote.

;Of course he’s sorry. His lawyer told him if he didn’t display remorse he’d get carted straight off to prison but his anger issues remain and the judge is working with limited tools.

What if Feleti doesn’t finish or fails the anger management course? Is there follow up? What if we had a mandatory rehabilitation course that had to be passed? Something along the lines of “Am I ready to be a positive contribution to the community?” Currently he gets released anyway and possibly might go onto a police watch list for violent offenders. How does this protect the community?

The justice system will have let down the victim, his family, the offender and also the community if the next stage in this young man’s life is a third brush with the law where someone else is maimed or killed. Quote.

“I am satisfied that home detention is the right sentence in your case.”

end quote.

I disagree. More options are needed for young men and women whose families have failed them and for whom the justice system is following suit. The judge knew this boy had anger issues because of his previous brush with the law.  Quote.

Feleti’s attack on Holloway was a “gross over-reaction” to a “minor dispute”, Toogood said.

Feleti also committed the attack while on bail for another charge that is still to be determined.nd of quote.

Our justice system is well overdue for a major overhaul because the current one disappoints the victims, their families, the community and the offenders.??

Reparation needs to be built into rehabilitation programmes and these should include serious consequences for failure.

Make the punishment fit the crime. Receipt of a rehabilitation pass out into the community could include the offender talking about his experience and recovery to younger juvenile offenders. This would be enormously helpful in deterring youths on the same path and it would also validate his success.

This?process is simply good parenting; but there is a dearth of that so the state is forced to step in. Let’s put an end to the state’s half-assed job and design something with a better chance of turning young lives around.