How Can Society Best Deal With Violent Offenders?


Garth McVicar started a non-profit organization in New Zealand to help change the way violent offenders are being sentenced.

By Alex Cequea

Garth McVicar started Sensible Sentencing Trust after seeing a steady spike in crime and sexual violence in New Zealand. The first part of the project consisted of a national register that would track violent offenders across the country. Sensible Sentencing Trust now advocates for tougher prison sentences, as a response to what McVicar sees as lax legislation that lets repeat offenders of violent crime walk away and continue to put the public safety at risk.

His program has sparked an important debate around when and how to rehabilitate people who commit serious crimes, and how to deal with repeat offenders who don’t seem to respond to rehabilitation efforts.

In this interview, Garth McVicar talks about:

  • How he started Sensible Sentencing Trust
  • What it’s like to go against current cultural norms and beliefs
  • How the political climate of New Zealand affects his efforts
  • What he thinks is the best way to rehabilitate young offenders
  • How connecting the stories of victims can be a catalyst for healing

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