Furthermore, there have been very few cases of police corruption. New Zealand police officers are also known for their involvement in various community and youth outreach programs. (the New Zealand Police)
7. General comparison of New Zealand and the United States.
Both the United States and New Zealand have many fundamental similarities in their historical, religious, social and legal development. In the first instance, both countries were formed through colonization - which implies that they both encountered in their history different but comparable problems with regard to diversity and cultural inequalities. However, this is much less pronounced than in the larger United States.
The religious structure and composition of the two countries are also relatively similar, with a preponderance of the Christian denomination. The United States is, according to the PEW Foundation, approximately seventy percent Protestant and just over twenty percent Catholic, with the balance divided over a variety of religious faiths, including Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu. This compares relatively well with New Zealand, although there is a higher percentage of Catholics in the latter country. In terms of the criminal justice and legal system, this means that there are similarities of fundamental values and norms, such as the assessment of good and evil, in both cultures.
With regard to government, the two countries also show many clear similarities. In the first instance, they are both democratic and based on parliamentary and representational systems. However, as noted above, the geographical size of New Zealand has led to the adoption of a unitary and centralized system of government, which is reflected in the more homogeneous and less diverse justice system and system of policing procedures. A central difference is that the New Zealand government is more localized on a national basis and this also means that the police and justice system is easier to administer. There are however some critics of the New Zealand system who assert that the system is not entirely equitable and fully representative of all population and social groupings.
Both countries can be compared in terms of crime rates and crime rate increases. As stated, there has been an increase in certain types and trends in crime in New Zealand. However, this increase cannot compare to the increase of certain types of crime in the United Sates. One glaring example of this difference between the two countries is in regard to violent crimes; another is in the area of juvenile crime, which is also related to differences in the structure and functioning of the different criminal justice systems
While violent crime is extremely low in comparison to other forms of crime in New Zealand, in America the incidence of this type of crime is extremely high and is on the increase. A 2006 report states that, "Violent crime increased last year, and many cities experienced double-digit or even triple-digit percentage increases in homicides and other violence." (Violent Crime in America: 24 Months of Alarming Trends) Crime statistics for 2006, which were collated from 56 policing agencies across the nation found that, "....homicides increased 2.89% compared to 2005, and robberies increased 6.48%." (Violent Crime in America: 24 Months of Alarming Trends) it is a well- known fact that the United States has one of the highest crime rates of all the developed counties in the world. Since 1995 the nation's prison and jail population has risen by more than 600,000 inmates. (NATION'S PRISON and JAIL POPULATION GREW 2.6% DURING 12 MONTHS THAT ENDED JUNE 30, 2005) it therefore follows that the U.S. government and criminal justice system has a much larger problem with this type of crime and crime in general than New Zealand.
Juvenile crime is also a much greater problem in the United States. This is related to the type and structure of the American legal system. The U.S. system is essentially based on adversarial system of criminal procedure. This means a system of direct opposition between two parties. In other words, this system "....pits two sides against each other to present their respective evidence and issues surrounding a criminal act." (Criminal Justice System in Action: The Adversarial System) in contradistinction to this system are many alternative criminal justice processes that have been adopted by countries like New Zealand. In the New Zealand system there is more focus on the search for truth and on bringing context and external concomitant aspects to bear on the legal process. This has led to the success of the youth justice process in New Zealand. In particular, "...the New Zealand invention of the "family group conference (FGC)" for youth offenders has been hailed as a pioneering model of restorative justice." (Schmid)
Basically restorative justice is a process, whereby parties with a stake in a criminal offense (including the offender, the victim, and the communities of each) collectively resolve how to deal with the aftermath of the criminal act with an emphasis on repairing the harm from that act - the harm to the victim, to the community, and to the offender her/himself.
This model has proven to be extremely successful in New Zealand and has also begun to be adopted by the United States and other counties. The restorative justice process has proven to be capable of reducing reoffending and in crime prevention (Schmid) the innovative aspect of FGCs or family group conferencing refers to, conferences in which victims are invited to meet offenders and their families, with the police and a justice coordinator present, to discuss the crime and what should happen as a result of the crime. Victims are thereby given a voice to tell of the impact of the crime and to get their questions answered: Why were they victimized? Will they be victimized again? How will the offender put things right?
This can be compared to the fact that the United States does not in fact have a consistent national juvenile justice system across all states. (Crime and Justice in the United States of America) Each state provides its own system of dealing with juvenile justice and as a result this "...makes it very difficult to describe succinctly the delivery of juvenile justice in the U.S." (Crime and Justice in the United States of America
In conclusion, the New Zealand criminal justice system shows some strong aspects in comparison to the U.S. system - especially with regard to juvenile crime. On the other hand there are also criticisms of the New Zealand system; particularly in the area of adult crime. As one commentator notes," New Zealand's adult justice system is lagging dangerously behind the country's world-leading innovations in dealing with youth offenders... New Zealand's adult imprisonment rate was second only to the U.S. - in contrast to the success of New Zealand's youth justice system. "(Hamilton)
However, in a comparison of the two countries and their criminal justice systems it should be borne in mind that the situation relating to crime and criminal process are often very different in each country and that each system has certain strengths and weaknesses that can be relates to the history, development and context of that society.
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