Reaction to Three Strikes

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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