"New Zealand has serious problems resulting from the abuse of alcohol and drugs. These problems end up in the criminal justice system. The problem is that the criminal justice system as it is configured at present fails to provide the treatment and rehabilitation that would ameliorate the impact of the abuse and prevent its re-occurrence. In consequence, these problems get worse and the level of offending goes up, not down.
The evidence about the problem is overwhelming. What is lacking is the will to do what is necessary to make things better. Roger Brooking makes the case for change and there can be no doubt that he is correct."
Sir Geoffrey Palmer, SC, Former Prime Minister,
Former Head of the Law Commission
"After reading ‘Flying Blind', I am moved to ponder these questions: Do we really want to pander to the lowest vindictive common denominator in society and continue to waste $90,000 on every prisoner in New Zealander each year - knowing this current expenditure is only likely to make these fellow citizens even more disabled and dysfunctional? Or do we want to be involved in a fundamental reorientation towards ensuring that people who break the law are subsequently better equipped to live a civilised life as a result of their contact with the New Zealand Justice system?
This informative, hard-hitting, yet engaging publication by Roger Brooking is a powerful wake up call to serious, engrained problems with the Justice system."
Professor Doug Sellman,
Director, National Addiction Centre
University of Otago, Christchurch
"The choice is simple: a fence at the top of the cliff, or an ambulance at the bottom? Roger Brooking favours the fence at the top. And he has compiled formidable evidence that this is not only common sense, but also makes economic sense.
With the call for heightened accountability in today's fiscally constrained environment, we hear many claims of the waste of taxpayers' funds in numerous areas. But, few of these claims are as well documented as in ‘Flying Blind'. It provides a clear argument that spending more and more to cope with increasing incarceration rates is an obvious misuse of our taxes.
A compulsory read for officials, policy advisors, politicians and taxpayers alike."
Dr Ganesh Nana, Chief Economist,
Business & Economic Research Ltd (BERL)
"Roger Brooking is one of those rare people who combine profession with passion. He has been a relentless advocate for changes in the way the justice system deals with drug and alcohol dependent offenders, and his journey has led him to identify wider issues around offender and prisoner rehabilitation and rehabilitation.
In ‘Flying Blind', Brooking articulates his views for reform with courage and conviction. In doing so, he takes the reader beyond a critical analysis of the criminal justice system, toward best practise in other jurisdictions and a more enlightened approach to rehabilitation and reintegration.
His views will not be universally acclaimed - and that is their value. The pursuit of truth is the motor of social reform, and the practitioner's truth is a voice rarely heard in the field of criminal justice. For that reason alone, this book is a valuable contribution to the crime and punishment debate."
Kim Workman, Director,
Rethinking Crime and Punishment
"‘Flying Blind' graphically and factually reveals the glaring hiatus in the New Zealand justice system regarding alcohol and drug rehabilitation.
"This is a masterly analysis by an expert in this field who has approached his task objectively - and with a brutal disregard for official servility. ‘Flying Blind' is an irresistible argument for a major increase in resources to combat the destructive effects of alcohol and drug addiction in our community."
Peter Williams, QC
Former President of the NZ Howard League for Penal Reform
Author of ‘Judicial Misconduct', & ‘A Passion for Justice'
"Roger Brooking has done the country a service by producing this timely appraisal of our expensive but ineffectual prison system. With courage and perception, he cuts through euphemistic statements from politicians to expose the truth behind our extraordinary high rate of imprisonment and our high rate of reconvictions of prisoners on release.
He points to our prime focus on custody at the expense of remedial education, and draws attention to our almost complete neglect of prisoners alcohol and drug addictions.
Throughout, Brooking writes in a compelling and pungent style, reinforcing his arguments with appropriate quotes from the authorities and drawing logical inferences to fill the gaps. His short volume should appeal to the intelligent reader, lead to informed public debate on the mistreatment of prisoners, and bring about a wiser use of the taxpayers' money in an otherwise burgeoning prison industrial complex"
Tony Taylor, Emeritus Professor of Psychology,
Victoria University, Wellington
"The current legal system is haphazard in how it responds to those with alcohol and drug problems. Flying Blind highlights a large gap between high level policy statements of intent and the reality of rehabilitation both in prison and in the community. It points out that some of the Corrections Department's own policies actually prevent inmates form participating in rehabilitation.
If New Zealand fails to address these issues, we will continue to arrest people and send high numbers to prison. This represents a significant loss of opportunity, both in terms of human suffering, as well as economically. ‘Flying Blind' makes the case for a much stronger focus on rehabilitation, in particular, for offenders who abuse alcohol and drugs. This will require urgent commitment and political will to implement. I fully support the sentiments expressed in this book."
Robert Steenhuisen, Regional Manager,
Community Alcohol & Drug Service (CADS), Waitemata DHB,
Co-Chairman, National Committee for Addiction Treatment (NCAT)
"For 10 years, Garth McVicar has argued that the answer to violence and crime in New Zealand was longer and more prison sentences. This so-called 'sensible sentencing' has been tried and has failed. If anything, it has made matters worse. We have more and more people in prison while violent crime continues unabated - 80% of it driven by alcohol and drugs. The country is badly in need of some new ideas.
'Flying Blind' contains the sort of new thinking that is needed. It is clear, logical and thoroughly compelling. It makes the case for practical and attainable change which, unlike the punitive approach, could actually work. This is a ‘must-read' for anyone with even a passing interest in crime and justice issues."
Nicky Hagar, Author
‘The Hollow Men', ‘Secrets & Lies' & ‘Seeds of Distrust'