Reaction to Three Strikes

January 20th, 2010 at 8:59 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

National and Act have agreed to pass a three-strikes law under which some killers will be locked away in prison without any chance of release.

Once an offender is convicted of a third serious offence, the judge will have to impose the maximum sentence for the crime.

For murder and manslaughter, the maximum is life imprisonment.

Murderers will actually face life without parole on their second strike – if convicted of murder. The second strike is the normal sentence with no parole. However the only sentence for murder is life. So if a murderer has one previous convictions for a serious violent or sexual offence, then they will get life with no parole (if both offences occur after this law has been passed).

Labour says the move is a gimmick that falls well short of what National was promising before the last election.

Labour, as usual, is wrong. National did not promise at all. This policy goes well beyond what National promised. It is a pretty major victory for ACT.

Crimes committed before the law is passed will not be covered, so it may be about eight to 10 years before the first offender is sentenced under the three-strikes law.

I think it is right, not to have the law apply retrospectively. But this is why it will take some time to have a full impact. But it may not be as long as the Herald says, as someone can get a first strike if convicted of indecent assault, even if not sentenced to prison. So they could end up on their second strike very quickly.

It is also worth noting that the original bill also allows a Judge to sentence, at their discretion, a murderer to life without parole regardless of strikes. So a Weatherston type murder can attract a life with no parole sentence, even though he he no previous offending.

Stuff reports:

The Maori Party says it is appalled by the Government’s proposals for a “three strikes” sentencing policy, which would see repeat violent offenders who kill spend the rest of their life in prison.

Not surprised, but they don’t get a veto.

I don’t normally report results of NZ Herald web polls, as they are unscientific. But it is still notable that a staggering 96% of respondents are backing maximum penalties on the third strike. This will be a very popular law, and I will be fascinated as to whether or not Phil Goff can convince his Caucus to vote for it.

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46 Responses to “Reaction to Three Strikes”

  1. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    This is a good move. Some on the extremes will complain that this goes too far, or not far enough, but this bill will be opposed by Labour to Labours detriment. Expect some movement in the polls as a result.

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  2. MeneerCronje (43 comments) says:

    Too late for some victims – long overdue.

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  3. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    I am appalled that this was not extended to thieves and burglars – the types of criminals who affect far more people than murderers and rapists ever do. Don’t get me wrong – I am happy that violent offenders will get serious jail time at last, but I am just unhappy that the types of criminals who most of us deal with in the course of our lives are not affected by these measures – as long as they don’t hit anyone while committing their crimes.

    Unless of course I have read it all wrong.

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  4. Johnboy (16,722 comments) says:

    I am “appalled” that it will cost us $250/day to keep them in jail when a 9mm round only costs 50cents.

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  5. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    Having now heard many of the responses I’m still happy with this approach. It won’t solve a lot of the problems but it addresses some and it sends a clear message – society is sick of violent crime and wants something done about it.

    The issue of no parole on the second strike has been raised, that it blocks a means of rehabilitation. But they will have already tried that on the first sentence and it obviously didn’t work.

    It could lead to some hard luck cases, disproportionate and possible “unfair” sentences. But that has to be balanced against the total unfairness to victims of violent crimes, some of whom get lifetime sentences of hardship as a result of no fault of their own.

    This three strikes approach would have major problems (proven overseas) if extended to lesser crimes. But a variation could be better for more minor offences, especially property related – maximum sentence for three convictions of the same offence. That would do something to address recidivist thieves and burglars.

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  6. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    Silly, unscientific lawmaking. By all means increase prison terms for violent offenders (which for some reason we have more than anyone else), but use a regime that has been shown to actually work.

    Government by backroom deals and newspaper headlines simply leads to bad policy.

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  7. Brian Harmer (687 comments) says:

    Like Bill Hicks, I am baffled by the reaction of Pita Sharples. Where is the disparity he is complaining about? The bill targets violence, not race. If you don’t want to be locked up, keep your hands to yourself. Simple.

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  8. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    Great way to make law. three strikes and your out, but baseball is such a minor sport here. Why not 6 balls in an over, 10 wickets in an innings, 4 points for a try, or 1 goal in a month’s worth of soccer?

    What is so magical about the number 3?

    “Things come in threes” Crap.

    Government documents are made out in triplicate. why?

    The Roman Triumvirate. Wasn’t that to reduce power?

    The three gods of the xtian church?

    And how about addressing the criminals who get away with fraud and theft almost every time? Those who drive finance companies into the ground but never bear personal reponsibility. It is time to end the legal fiction of corporate persons and make shareholders and directors fully accountable for their wrongs.

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  9. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    bchapman (291) Says:

    January 20th, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Government by backroom deals and newspaper headlines simply leads to bad policy.

    Which is all we have had from this Notional Government.

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  10. Bobs Your Uncle (5 comments) says:

    Government by backroom deals and newspaper headlines simply leads to bad policy. Its called MMP

    Why can’t it be retrospective? For the crimes which will be covered by this law put all 1st time offenders on a first warning and the rest on a 2nd/final warning. And to cut costs farm the contact out to house these prisoners to Vietnam or Thailand?

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  11. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    Labour says the move is a gimmick

    Yeah, just like they said about the 160 extra police the Govt put into South Auckland – which has just reported a 9% drop in crime.

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  12. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Murderers will actually face life without parole on their second strike – if convicted of murder. The second strike is the normal sentence with no parole. However the only sentence for murder is life. So if a murderer has one previous convictions for a serious violent or sexual offence, then they will get life with no parole (if both offences occur after this law has been passed).

    You’ve checked? Yesterday you were kinda saying the opposite.

    [DPF: Yes I have checked, and you were right :-)]

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  13. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    If it were up to me most of these offences would carry the death penalty for a second offence – medical execution with a guilotine (sp??) with mandatory organ donation. I just dont see why you give someone a chance to rape or murder a third time.

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  14. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    They were saying on the radio that “life” meant 25 years for a second murder, FWIW…

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  15. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    Government by backroom deals and newspaper headlines simply leads to bad policy.

    Government by common sense agreement with popular support leads to better policy.

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  16. big bruv (13,935 comments) says:

    Who cares what the left have to say about the three strikes law, fuck them, they did not listen to any of our concerns during their tenure.

    Enjoy it, remind the left as much as possible that this is what the public want and demand from their government.

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  17. Sean (301 comments) says:

    The one downside in this relates to the fact that police still control the prosecution process. So they can easily manipulate less serious offenders, by charging a ‘three strikes’ offense and then offering to substitute a lesser offence in exchange for a guilty plea.

    If there is going to be such a radical change to the way criminal justice is administered then it seems reasonable that NZ should have the prosecution process in the hands of a body other than the police, as is the case in other developed jurisdictions.

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  18. Crampton (215 comments) says:

    The compromise law, as reported, sounds decent to me. It maintains marginal deterrence – pretty important. Having it be retrospective would smack of ex post facto law – something always repugnant to anyone of a constitutional mindset.
    http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com/2010/01/good-strike.html

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  19. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Johnboy, your 50 cent comment is deeply offensive and hurtful. We can get bulk ammo at much cheaper rates. 5.56 will run us to no more than 10 cents.

    Altough happiness is a belt fed weapon.

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  20. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Crampton – but what is it a compromise between? Put me down for the law as introduced – even with its mandatory life sentences – over this compromise any day.

    I can’t say I’d have favoured a retrospective application of the law, either, but I’d note that US versions of the law have been – where felonies committed before the law was in effect could count as strikes – were challenged on the basis that they were ex post facto laws, and were found to be constitutional.

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  21. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    bruv – never a truer word spoken!

    lets do a helen

    “ha i think the people of new zealand have spoken, you just have to look at the herald poll. its time to move on”

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  22. Crampton (215 comments) says:

    @Graeme: If a third strike gets twenty-five years, no matter what the strike is for, then we get the severity shift seen in California: fewer third strikes, but a greater proportion of them are for murder or more serious offenses. With the updated legislation, the guy facing his third strike still faces a big difference in sentence between rape and murder. That matters, if you want the witness/victim to live.

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  23. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    What about another three strikes policy we already have? Three terms in Parliament and the MP perks continue?

    How about also three dips into taxpayer funds by MPs to entertain girlfriends/family etc result in life term outside Parliament?

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  24. DJP6-25 (1,388 comments) says:

    Well, I guess half a loaf is better than none. ACT can always go back to the baker for a few more slices later. I hope this reflects in our polling. Hopefully ACT will remind the voters at election time. We’ll have the law and order cote.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  25. Tassman (234 comments) says:

    The Police state is well and truly established by the dictate of Mr. Key and his right wing nationalists. There is no incentive to encourage good behaviour other than satisfying the right wing desires of punishment of victims of economic and politial arbitrary impositions.

    The rate of crime is increased while at the same time tolerance is raised to make it look like nothing is happening. It’s a credit for planning as the consequential development is unintentional, a bit like going full force blindly…

    While more people are criminalised as the nature of crime itself is raised to extremities, the media socialisation and political propaganda makes it look normal. But the fact is that there is no return of this socialisation, only only a one rapid way to hell.

    People are only locked up for the sake of locking up and punishments with no rehabilitations. That makes for the establishmebnt of a police state.

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  26. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    @Graeme: If a third strike gets twenty-five years, no matter what the strike is for, then we get the severity shift seen in California: fewer third strikes, but a greater proportion of them are for murder or more serious offenses.

    But under the bill as introduced, the third serious violent offence didn’t necessarily get 25 years. If it was a less serious offence – e.g. an indecent assault, or a more tame aggravated burglary, they might have got a sentence of four years and it wouldn’t have counted as a strike at all.

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  27. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Tassman you wouldn’t know a police state if it kicked in your door at 3am and dropped you in a hole in the woods.

    I’ve seen police states and believe me the last thing you get is whiny assed little bitches sqealing about how they live in a police state in those places. People are too damned scared to even notice it.

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  28. Johnboy (16,722 comments) says:

    “Altough happiness is a belt fed weapon.”

    Like this do you mean Murray?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6N0cEAR1zmc&feature=related

    And rim fire as well—-less than 10c per round! :)

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  29. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    That more like mild contentment Johnboy.

    I mean more like THIS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31vm3-BQRJU

    Thats some serious happy going on there.

    Gimmie .50

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  30. Crampton (215 comments) says:

    @Graeme: You’re talking about the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill 17-1 (2009), right? Serious violent offence was pretty broadly drawn, and while 86D gave the court an out via “written reasons”, if the criminal’s expectation were 25 years for anything on that list, you’d still get the severity shift.

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2009/0017/latest/DLM1845322.html#DLM1845335

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  31. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Severity shift? I like the term, approved action this day.

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  32. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    I am. I suspect you’ve misunderstood the bill. “Serious violent offence” was pretty broadly drawn, but it was narrowed in that it only applied if a qualifying sentence would have been imposed. A qualifying sentence was an actual sentence of at least 5 years.

    It was clause 86(1)(b) that was the real ‘out’.

    Third strike consequences (and indeed, first and second strike consequences) only happened if the court would have imposed a qualifying sentence. Bruce Emery’s manslaughter conviction wasn’t serious enough to have counted as a strike. Someone with two subsequent convictions for robbery, involved in a drunken grope at a party, and convicted of indecent assault would not have gotten the 25 to life sentence – because you don’t get 5 years for a drunken grope it doesn’t count as a strike.

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  33. calendar girl (1,244 comments) says:

    Tassman @ 10:58am

    You may understand what you’re trying to say, but it’s simply unintelligible to me.

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  34. Crampton (215 comments) says:

    Will have to see how the compromise version is written…..

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  35. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Will have to see how the compromise version is written

    Absolutely. The devil is always in the detail. My question about this being a compromise was certainly about what has been announced. I’m not calling this a compromise because, for murder at least (and manslaughter, probably, as well), the announced policy is harsher than that proposed by either National or ACT before the election.

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  36. CharlieBrown (1,015 comments) says:

    I do find it interesting that whilst getting tough on violent crime they are looking at getting incredibly lenient on petty crime:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/crime/news/article.cfm?c_id=30&objectid=10616365

    It is petty crime that leads to violent crime. It would be a very good preventative measure against serious crime to have stringent measures to prevent petty crime. Indefinitely locking up recividist burglers, car theifs etc until they convince the parole board they won’t re-offend would be a good start.

    Its interesting how the press notes that it costs about $10 a day to have a community sentence. Have they taken into account the per day cost of crime committed by these people whilst not in prison?

    Finally, isn’t it interesting that a clear majority of people support the measure proposed, yet the press are giving more space for people against the measure. Search the herald and stuff for ‘three strikes’ and you will find much more publicity given to opposition groups with “progressive” left leaning ideas.

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  37. annie (539 comments) says:

    “People are only locked up for the sake of locking up and punishments with no rehabilitations. ”

    Honestly, Tossman, two chances are more than enough for anyone who is capable of rehabilitating themselves; not everyone is and they continue to pose an unacceptable danger to the rest of society.

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  38. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    People are locked up because they are a bloody meance to civilised people. They should count themselves lucky thats all that happens to them.

    You stop violent offenders by bloody cuddling them harder, you take them out of circulation.

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  39. polemic (460 comments) says:

    Why complicate the argument.
    1/ Everyone knows if you kill someone deliberately you will ……
    a)go to the clink in NZ,
    b)in many states of the US you will get the death sentence but only after 10 years and countless appeals.
    c) Summary execution in China – if your lucky you may get one appeal.

    2/ If you kill again in NZ after parole has let you out often within 10 years you will ……
    a) Get no parole now in NZ so you may have to be there for 14-16yrs – tough luck
    b) You just been executed in the US (ave appeal time 10yrs)
    c) You were executed 10 yrs ago.

    Who goes soft on murderers ?

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  40. annie (539 comments) says:

    It seems there are some in the judiciary who are happy to deliver a political opinion without doing enough homework:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/3246736/Judge-criticises-three-strikes-policy

    National’s website clearly states:

    ‘Under the regime, an offender will receive a standard sentence and warning for the first serious offence. For the second offence they will get a jail term (in most cases) with no parole and a further warning. On conviction for their third serious offence, the offender will receive the maximum penalty in prison for that offence with no parole.

    However, the court can decide not to order the maximum sentence be served without parole if it would be manifestly unjust to impose such an order. The regime will only apply to offending by people aged 18 years and over. It will not be retrospective – it will only apply to offences committed after the legislation comes into force. ‘

    and:

    ‘On their third strike offenders will get the maximum sentence for the offence rather than a life sentence with a minimum period of imprisonment of 25 years as originally proposed.

    As a general rule, the list of qualifying offences comprises all the major violence and sexual offences with a maximum penalty of seven years’ prison or more.’

    All of which means the defendant in front of him, charged with a minor offence, wouldn’t cop it under the legislation as proposed.

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  41. Steve (4,565 comments) says:

    Murray at 11.47.

    Only one problem there Murray, we would run out of arseholes too quick. None left for target practice!

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  42. starboard (2,540 comments) says:

    Tassman (99) Says:

    January 20th, 2010 at 10:58 am

    ..please climb back into your spaceship and return to where you came you fruit.

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  43. starboard (2,540 comments) says:

    The Maori Party says it is appalled by the Government’s proposals for a “three strikes” sentencing policy, which would see repeat violent offenders who kill spend the rest of their life in prison.

    pfft…says it all really…dickheads.

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  44. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Stuff all this pussy-footing about.

    You want to rid society of the worst, murdering criminals who are repeat offenders in serious crimes, then reintroduce the death penalty. Why should we pay hundreds of thousands a year to keep them alive and able to whinge about their “rights”?

    Yes, 40,000 liberals will swoon with vapours and lie tearfully on the floor, but if they can stomach abortion of tens of thousands of foetuses a year, they should quickly learn to live with a dozen executions.

    In the meantime, talking tough? A joke. Collins is a paper bulldog, and Hide is, well Hide is … in love!

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  45. polemic (460 comments) says:

    Maybe the Maori Party will bring in compuslory tasing for offences invovling violence !!!

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