November 16, 2011

Backlash against penal excess hits New Zealand this weekend

When I was in Australia over the summer, giving a keynote at their national forensic psychology conference, I got the distinct impression that Aussie practitioners were a wee bit savvier about criminal justice excesses than the average American.

Now comes evidence that neighboring New Zealanders are equally astute: A joint conference this weekend of Australian and New Zealanders is entitled: Crime and Punishment: The Rising Punitiveness.

The Wellington conference, co-hosted by the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, features intriguing keynotes on:

  • Law and psychiatry, from cooperation to contamination (my favorite title in a great lineup) -- Law and Ethics Professor Nigel Eastman, St George’s University of London
  • New Zealand's three strikes legislation: Sound policy or penal excess -- Law Professor Warren Brookbanks, Auckland University Law School
  • Off with their heads…said the Queen (runner-up for best title) -- Forensic Psychiatry Professor Emeritus Paul Mullen, Monash University
  • While it may not be criminalisation, it is criminal: The plight of people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system -- Forensic Psychology Professor James Ogloff, Monash University and Director of the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science and Director of Psychological Services at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health
  • Contrasts in punishment: An examination of Anglophone excess and Nordic exceptionalism (one I would especially like to hear) -- Criminology Professor John Pratt, Institute of Criminology, Victoria University
  • Reconceptualizing psychopathy to promote effective intervention -- Psychology and Social Behavior Professor Jennifer Skeem, Centers for Psychology and Law and Evidence-based Corrections at the University of California
  • Politics and punitiveness – Limiting the rush to punish -- Kim Workman, retired public servant with the New Zealand Department of Maori Affairs and Ministry of Health
 If you happen to be in or near Wellington this weekend, check it out. I am excited to see this growing backlash against penal excesses, and I sure wish I could be there!


BruceBorkosky said...

This is a big problem in the rural area where I live and practice. Recently, one minor, first offense, was sentence to 40 years.
Bruce Borkosky

Karen Franklin, Ph.D. said...


Yes, I am constantly hearing horror stories like that. It's like the system has gone berserk, a runaway train with no brakes!