The revised Three Strikes Law

March 27th, 2010 at 2:45 pm by David Farrar

The report back from the Select Committee is here. The key principle is still:

  1. 1st serious offence – normal sentence and parole
  2. 2nd serious offence – normal sentence, no parole
  3. 3rd serious offence – maximum sentence, no parole

However there are a few tweaks about offences with life sentences.

If you get a third strike for say rape, then the penalty would be 20 years without parole. A court can decide that would be manifestly unjust, and allow parole – but still the maximum sentence. So they would be eligible for parole in 14 years or so.

If the third offence is manslaughter, which normally has life as a maximum sentence, the requirement is a minimum imprisonment of 20 years, and if that is manifestly unjust, then a minimum imprisonment of 10 years.

If murder is a stage two or three offence, then the sentence will be life without parole. If this would be manifestly unjust, then the minimum period of imprisonment is at least 20 years.

Also they clarify that at a third strike the court can sentence an offender to preventative detention, with a minimum no release period of at least what their third strike would have been (unless manifestly unjust). This means a serial sex offender for example can be given preventative detention, rather than a finite term.

So what does this mean for a number of offences. Graeme E will correct me I am sure, where needed, but at a glance a likely scenario is:

Indecent Assault

  1. 1st strike – three years (court of appeal starting point), with parole at two years
  2. 2nd strike three years, no parole
  3. 3rd strike seven years, no parole. If manifestly unjust parole eligibility at 4 years eight months

Aggravated Robbery or Wounding with intent to do GBH

  1. 1st strike – four years, parole in two years eight months
  2. 2nd strike – four years, no parole
  3. 3rd strike – 14 years, no parole. If manifestly unjust parole eligibility at 10 years four months

Rape

  1. 1st strike – eight years, parole in five years four months
  2. 2nd strike – eight years, no parole
  3. 3rd strike – 20 years, no parole. If manifestly unjust parole eligibility at 13 years four months

Manslaughter

  1. 1st strike – not sure if there is a sentencing guideline, so say 15 years, parole in 10 years
  2. 2nd strike – 15 years, no parole
  3. 3rd strike – life, with parole eligibility in 20 years. If manifestly unjust parole eligibility after ten years

Murder

  1. 1st strike – life, parole eligibility after ten years
  2. 2nd strike – life, no parole. If manifestly unjust parole eligibility after 20 years
  3. 3rd strike – life, no parole. If manifestly unjust parole eligibility after 20 years

Now it seems there may be some way that if even 20 years non parole is also manifestly unjust, it then falls back to normal sentencing for murder.

The threshold of manifestly unjust is historically quite high. For example, a Judge can use it at the moment to not issue a life sentence for murder, and I can’t recall the last time that occured.

Also worth stressing is that the strikes happen regardless of what were the other strikes. So they do not have to be strikes of the same offence. The 1st strike might be indecent assault, the second strike rape and the third strike manslaughter.

Also the first strikes may not even result in a custodial sentence. The figures above are starting points for those offences. It may be a 1st strike avoids jail – but they will still get told the consequences of further strikes.

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42 Responses to “The revised Three Strikes Law”

  1. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    Yes, looking forward to the analyses by our resident legal eagles, as your examples assume that the same crime is committed each time, wereas it is much more likely that there will be a variety of offending, or multiple offences eg rape and murder of the victim in an effort to avoid detection and a third strike.

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  2. serge (108 comments) says:

    Sounds good to me however, the socialist judges on the benches in New Zealand will need to be taught to count to three or else given some form of aid such as an abacus and a notebook so that they can keep track of each offender by it’s right name.

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  3. Graeme Edgeler (3,273 comments) says:

    Graeme E will correct me I am sure

    You were pretty good, actually. Certainly far better than the Herald, which has a story which mentions life with no parole for all third strike offending (it wasn’t this harsh under any of proposals mooted, let alone under the bill at any time).

    Default parole eligibility for sentences exceeding two years is at one-third of a sentence, while you seem to have assumed two-thirds. Now quite possibly in the serious offences you’ve listed (i.e. those excluding indecent assault) a higher non-parole parole period could well be ordered, but this isn’t necessarily the case for all the offending you listed.

    Your 15 years for manslaughter is way too high. There is no guideline for manslaughter because the facts vary so much from case to case, but I very much doubt that anyone gets close to 15 years for a first-strike manslaughter (or even third-strike manslaughter, ‘though preventive detention would be a possibility at that point).

    Manslaughter sentencing is probably the most legally intensive sentencing you can be involved with – it basically involved trawling through a whole bunch of other manslaughter sentencing (i.e. at high court level) and trying to work out which is the closest analogy.

    The following can all be manslaughter:
    *stabbing someone in a fight (if you don’t think about the likely consequences, which in a fight is quite likely)
    *running after a tagger and knifing them
    *selling a bag of chocolates which doesn’t say “contains peanuts” on it, which causes anaphylaxis in someone who dies as a result
    *accidentally shooting someone while hunting, if proper care wasn’t taken (and let’s be honest, if proper care was taken, the chance of someone being accidentally shot while hunting is pretty low)
    *failing to ensure proper supervision of an aircraft mechanic, whose shoddy repairs lead to a crash.
    etc.

    [DPF: Ta. I thought Labour had gone back to parole at two thirds of a sentence, for serious offences - reversing their 2002 change to lower it to one third?]

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  4. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    “A court can decide that would be manifestly unjust, and allow parole”

    So if the court can override this whats the point in a maximum sentence? – just what would they have to do to get a maximum sentence? To principle was to take to account the offenders past behaviour, – all three crimes equals a final and severe sentence. Putting discretion back in the hands of the courts kinda defeats the purpose

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  5. thedavincimode (6,578 comments) says:

    Why not incorporate revocation of the original parole; time out on parole for prior offences is served at the third strike. After all, the granting of parole is implicitly conditional on good behaviour. It is consistent with the way that we treat parolled murderers.

    I never cease to be amazed at the implicit assumption by those of LRO’s ilk that we should deal with crime and punishment from the perspective of it being a smorgasboard of options available to the aspiring crim. Such an approach simply elevates crime from something that is wrong and not to be tolerated, to something that is simply a legitimate act with consequences. Hmmm, what’s it to be today? A bit of the old GBH or a tasty little schoolgirl rape? … I better just check with my legal aid funded brief before deciding …

    And has it occurred to any of these dreamers that by the time a third serious crime has been committed, it just might be that such offenders are committed to that path and the next (fourth, fifth …) victims might have some rights too? Ultimately that comes at a cost to society of caging these people. But irrespective of all the gum-gnashing around unhappy childhoods etc etc, and irrespective of whether some fault may lay with the state in that regard, it does not in the least legitimise or excuse the actions of serial violent offenders and there is a point where they should just be locked up full stop. Whether that is the third time, of the third time within a prescribed period (say five years or whatever) I don’t know.

    But the pretence that a low prospect of rehabilitation of one or two out of ten, or whatever, somehow necessitates that the entire ten should get the same chance is simply unrealistic and ignores the fundamental point that it is society that is being wronged here, not the offenders,

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  6. Graeme Edgeler (3,273 comments) says:

    [DPF: Ta. I thought Labour had gone back to parole at two thirds of a sentence, for serious offences - reversing their 2002 change to lower it to one third?]

    They did, but as best as I can figure it (the criminal justice statutes – sentencing, and parole – are annoyingly complicated) the change is not yet in force.

    It was supposed to change at the same time as the Sentencing Council and Sentencing Guidelines were brought it, but given this Government doesn’t want these, nothing’s happened with them yet.

    Section 84(1) of the Parole Act states:

    84 Non-parole periods
    (1) The non-parole period of a long-term determinate sentence [GE - a sentence exceeding 24 months] is one-third of the length of the sentence, unless … [a minimum term of imprisonment has been imposed].

    Section 48(1) of the Parole Amendment Act 2007 amends this to read:

    …(1) The non-parole period of a long-term sentence is,—
    (a) if the sentence is imposed after the initial period*, 12 months or two-thirds of the length of the sentence (whichever is longer)…

    *The “initial period” is the period in the changeover to following the Sentencing Guidelines.

    Section 2 of the Parole Amendment Act 2007 provides that:
    This Act comes into force on a day to be appointed by the Governor-General by Order in Council, and 1 or more orders may be made bringing different provisions into force on different dates.

    Regulation 2 of the Parole Amendment Act 2007 Commencement Order 2007 states:

    2 Commencement of Parole Amendment Act 2007
    The Parole Amendment Act 2007, except for the following sections, comes into force on 1 October 2007:
    (a) section 4(1), (3), and (7):
    (b) section 16:
    (c) sections 48 and 49:
    (d) section 67.

    There hasn’t been any subsequent action.

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  7. Graeme Edgeler (3,273 comments) says:

    So if the court can override this whats the point in a maximum sentence? – just what would they have to do to get a maximum sentence?

    The point of the maximum sentence is that everyone will get it on a third strike. A very small subset of those may be eligible for parole, but can still be forced to serve the entire (maximum) sentence in prison, if the Parole Board isn’t satisfied that it is safe to release them. Most people on their third strike, however, will not be eligible for this and will get the maximum sentence and have to serve all of it.

    Putting discretion back in the hands of the courts kinda defeats the purpose

    This isn’t about giving judges discretion, it’s about taking it away in all but a very small proportion of cases, and it still harshly limits what small remaining discretion they have.

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  8. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    If manifestly unjust..

    That seems like a huge gap through which a large carriage could be driven. I thought the whole idea was to avoid judges giving low sentences which do not take any account of the cumulative offending.

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  9. jaba (2,092 comments) says:

    Two police officers suffered fractures and bruising after being attacked by five men, one armed with a pool cue, in the Waikato town of Ngaruawahia early today.

    on stuff today .. how about tougher sentence’s for these sort of occurrences??

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  10. David Garrett (6,658 comments) says:

    Very good analysis as usual from Graeme Edgeler.

    A couple of points…firstly the Herald story this morning was woeful in a number of respects, as Graeme has already noted. The journo who wrote it tells me someone else messed up the first bit which refers to LWOP for ALL of the “strike” offences on third strike. A correction will be published on Monday.

    That doesn’t explain the strange quote from a law lecturer called Ekins who refers to LWOP as the mandatory sentence for accidentally killing someone in a bar fight, and Judges being reluctant to apply LWOP in those circumstances. Accidental killing is manslaughter not murder. Mr Ekins needs to refresh his knowledge of the Crime Act definitions of manslaughter and murder, and actually read the Sentencing and Parole (“three strikes”) Bill.

    On the subject of what constitutes manifestly unjust, that is not some phrase we dreamed up in the Select Committee, nor is it a licence for every soft judge to avoid the mandatory sentencing required at stage three. The phrase “manifestly unjust” is used in other legislation, and is already well defined in case law. I have no doubt that there will be appeals which will define its meaning in this context – but appeals on sentence may be brought by the Crown as well as the defence.

    I would have thought that a typical scenario might be the case of someone who had two “strike” offences in their early twenties, then led a blameless life for twenty years, then committed a further strike offence. I am not a Judge, but I would have thought that a submission that the maximum sentence in those circumstances would be manifestly unjust would be very likely to succeed.

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  11. Graeme Edgeler (3,273 comments) says:

    That seems like a huge gap through which a large carriage could be driven. I thought the whole idea was to avoid judges giving low sentences which do not take any account of the cumulative offending.

    1. Pretty much everyone is agreed that it is a very narrow gap.
    2. Even that gap doesn’t allow a judge to impose a lower sentence, they have to impose the maximum sentence, but may impose a lower non-parole period.

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  12. Graeme Edgeler (3,273 comments) says:

    I would have thought that a typical scenario might be the case of someone who had two “strike” offences in their early twenties, then led a blameless life for twenty years, then committed a further strike offence. I am not a Judge, but I would have thought that a submission that the maximum sentence in those circumstances would be manifestly unjust would be very likely to succeed.

    The judge has no discretion about the sentence in such a case – it has to be the maximum. Their only residual discretion is in the setting of the non-parole period.

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  13. Brian Smaller (4,016 comments) says:

    A good start perhaps.

    Given that most people will never ever be victim of rape, gbh or murder, this law still ignores property crimes which are the type of crimes that most affect most people. Hell, even the majority of crims aren’t rapists, murderers or serial assaulters.

    The cost of a burglary can be enormous. Not just the loss of stuff, but the loss of feeling of safety that people have in their own homes. The cost goes way beyond a new TV. Property crime must be treated as a serious crime requiring harsh punishment as well.

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  14. RichardEkins (5 comments) says:

    I’ve not posted here before, but thought I’d make one brief comment.

    Graeme very usefully points out the range of cases that may count as manslaughter. A few are almost indistinguishable from murder, many others are much less serious than murder, and often much less serious than many other violent crimes. A hunting accident or a negligent medical operation can both constitute manslaughter. Neither to my mind is anything like as serious as murder – intentional killing – or as serious as rape, kidnapping, vicious armed robbery.

    The Law and Order Select Committee’s latest report is in one very significant sense a major step backwards. It nominally makes the sentence for manslaughter less harsh but in practice may make it much harsher indeed.

    The interim proposal (the changes cabinet agreed to and announced in January this year) was of course for the maximum sentence to be imposed on third strike with no parole and with judicial discretion only to allow for eligibility for parole if no eligibility for parole would be manifestly unjust. As Graeme says, and contra David Garrett’s suggestion, on strike three there is never any judicial discretion in respect of the maximum sentence. The judge has no choice but to impose the maximum sentence.

    For manslaughter, where the maximum is life, the interim proposal meant life without parole was the default for manslaughter convictions. However, the judges retained discretion to allow eligibility for parole (the proposal never gave them discretion to do anything other than impose a life sentence; the discretion is only about parole). The judges would almost certainly have used that discretion in almost every case of manslaughter because it is a very rare case of manslaughter indeed which deserves life without parole as punishment. The Law and Order Select Commmitte have changed the rules, as DPF notes, so that the judge must impose at least a 20yr non parole period, and if that is manifestly unjust, a 10yr non parole period. This means a manslaughter on a third strike must receive at least life imprisonment with a 10yr minimum non parole period. That’s exactly the same as for murder. And that’s perverse.

    I was quoted yesterday, in a press release by the Maxim Institute (http://www.maxim.org.nz/index.cfm/Media/article?id=2054), as saying this:

    “Imagine a 20-year-old has accrued two strikes, robbery and then indecent assault. He is punished for these crimes but subsequently changes his ways and moves on. Twenty years later he is working as a mechanic and is negligent in repairing the brakes of a car. The car crashes, the driver dies and the mechanic is convicted of manslaughter. He should be punished for his negligence, of course, but under the proposed legislation he would have to serve the same sentence as if he had murdered the driver — the maximum sentence of life imprisonment” according to Ekins. “The judge has no discretion under the proposed law to avoid this outcome. The only discretion the judge has is to order the offender not to serve at least 20 years before applying for parole if that would be manifestly unjust. But the judge still has to order the offender to serve at least 10 years before even applying for parole. Even with this small amount of discretion it remains unjust.”

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  15. Rex Widerstrom (5,307 comments) says:

    “Aggravated Robbery…

    1.1st strike – four years, parole in two years eight months

    …unless carried out by a member of the cosy inner circle using a fake CV, in which case the penalty shall be reduced to $10,000 and community service, after which the offender shall be rehabilitated into another cushy government job”.

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  16. Rex Widerstrom (5,307 comments) says:

    David Garret opines:

    On the subject of what constitutes manifestly unjust, that is not some phrase we dreamed up in the Select Committee, nor is it a licence for every soft judge to avoid the mandatory sentencing required at stage three.

    Ah, right. Because “hard” politicians, effectively sitting in judgment on cases which have yet to be heard on crimes which have yet to be committed, are far better qualified to assess all the possible mitigating factors and pass sentence than these “soft” judges.

    What a pity some of these politicians were overlooked for appointment to the bench despite their own clearly inflated opinion of their own legal prowess, and are now determined to sit in de facto judgment regardless.

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  17. MIKMS (164 comments) says:

    its a goodish idea

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  18. gravedodger (1,526 comments) says:

    @ BS those who dwell in the lofty seclusion of academia have always regarded violation of ones personal domain as somewhat less of a violation than a physical assault in their esteemed opinion. As a victim of burglary with the accompanying feelings of subsequent vulnerability and fear,often unwarranted I accept for “normal” people, I struggle to have to accept such crime as a lessor one. I presume the fact that most property crime can be assuaged with insurance and retribution allows that state of opinion to perpetuate.
    As to not having serious drug dealing, distribution and manufacture included in the net is in a word, astounding. The serious assault to the wellbeing of those who become victims to the scourge of drugs in general and methamphetamine in particular is lamentable. To see individuals and their families destroyed by this problem in society and nothave it equated to murder, GBH etc is , well, puzzling.

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  19. Mr Elbow (30 comments) says:

    Poor Rex is still bitter about not making it into Parliament. Get over it mate.
    I’m very glad with the people they have there now. This is a good looking bill, and hopefully it will stop the apologists’ constant references to California.
    Of course, that will require people like Widerstrom and Williams to read the bill – and so far they’ve proven to be too lazy to do that.

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  20. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    Great hope its implemented.. can’t see the Judges liking it tho.. not looking foreward to a Judges go slow.. the court system is slow enough as it is … any slower and it will be at a complete stand still.

    Can’t we just contract out all the 3 strikers to maxium security prisons overseas.. in exchange for education for their students back here… It would also be a strong deterrent to 1st and 2nd strikers, showing them if you get three strikes your out..
    literally.. you loose your privileges to even live in this country…which we all know is a privilege.. and its time our criminals realised it too… by loosing their rights and privileges to live in Gods Own.. for life.

    Now listen to the PC brigade … cry out immoral… inhumane..

    Yeah Right.. untill one of these unrepentant pricks excapes and rapes or kills their family.

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  21. MT_Tinman (3,033 comments) says:

    The only way I can see this working is if the Court of Appeal is the only court permitted to adjudge a sentence “manifestly unjust”.

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  22. gazzmaniac (2,319 comments) says:

    Here’s a question for you
    A kid gets involved with the wrong people, and gets a couple of convictions for aggravated robbery in his teens and early twenties. He decides that that’s not the life he wants and cleans up his act, and becomes a model citizen. One day he is speeding and has a crash, killing someone. He cops a dangerous driving charge and a manslaughter charge. Is it fair for him to get ten years for that?

    This is a stupid law as it removes any flexibility from judges. Yes I voted for ACT, but I voted for tax reform (the Douglas camp) not the tougher justice ones. It is a sad thing, as the only party with a reasonable tax policy is caught up with this sensible sentancing crowd in a bid to win votes. Go back to your roots, ACT.

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  23. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    I voted for ACT.
    Yes but your not an ACT supportor.. are you.. otherwise you would be for a tougher justice system.

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  24. Rex Widerstrom (5,307 comments) says:

    MrElbow:

    I’d very much like hire you as a consultant sometime. Your ability to infer motives from a series of comments on an entirely unrelated topic indicate you have formidable psychological training and insight. Then again, you could just be some hang ‘em high frother bereft of a counter-argument who’s decided to engage in an ad hominem. But surely you wouldn’t come here with something that flimsy?

    The Bill, as with any minimum sentencing provision, removes discretion from the judiciary and effectively vests it in politicians, some with no experience of the legal system whatsoever and others, like Garrett, whose views are, at best, debateable.

    I’ve read the Bill, but I fail to see how the principle I’ve explained above is in any way complex or requires some intelligent parsing of the Bill’s contents (as I see DPF and Graeme Edgeler are doing above, and it’s fascinating). It’s a much simpler principle I’m arguing: I don’t want the likes of David Garrett sitting in judgment on cases that haven’t happened yet and setting minimum sentences for people whos mitigation pleas they haven’t heard.

    That is the job of a judge, skilled in the law. Does it not occur to the likes of you, MrElbow, and others screaming for lonnger sentences and harsher punishment, that if virtually every judge says it won’t work, then people like Garrett are using you to advance their own careers?

    The latest to join the chorus is the retiring Chief Judge of the WA District Court.

    She points out that there aren’t enough programs in jails to deal with offending, and that those that exist are usually inadequate. That the lives of some people make it “inevitable” that they will end up in the criminal justice system. And that our politicians are stripping our civil rights in the name of fighting crime.

    “It’s very cheap and doesn’t require leadership” to do what Garrett is doing, she says.

    She’s had 40 years in the legal system. What have you had?

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  25. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    She’s had 40 years in the legal system. What have you had?

    Rex, as we discussed on an earlier thread, the man on the Kilbirnie omnibus has lost patience with the so-called experts and would now like to try an idea of his own; put the worst of these bastard into prison for longer. And keep them there. Consequently your “do you have any experience in the legal/prison service?” refrain doesn’t carry much weight as we feel like we’ve been listening to experts for too long and now we’ve realised that the emperor has no clothes.

    Brian, I second that. Burglaries have a devastating effect on the victims. I would like to see burglars given much longer sentences. More so because many of them are prolific, so the crime they are convicted on is likely to be the tip of the iceberg.

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  26. Repton (769 comments) says:

    It is a sad thing, as the only party with a reasonable tax policy is caught up with this sensible sentancing crowd in a bid to win votes. Go back to your roots, ACT.

    I recall back in 1999 I was considering voting for ACT. I was a student then, and a libertarian message can do a good job of appealing to the idealistic.

    But then they jumped onto the law-and-order bandwagon with a “lock ‘em up forever” policy, so I looked elsewhere for intelligence (pretty hard to find in politics, alas).

    So, tax reform may be ACT’s roots, but it didn’t take them long to outgrow it.

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  27. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    What.. still going.. has anyone coincided the maori party’s point of view on this..

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  28. jims_whare (399 comments) says:

    Rex, I’m sure the parole board officials that let Graham Burton out were very experienced too. To be honest I think sometimes those in the justice system get so caught up in their own importance that they forget the bigger picture of justice, fairness, and deterrence………….many judges try to be pseudo shrinks and listen to the pleadings of half wit defence lawyers spinning a whole lot of crap about about their client’s reasons for committing crimes.

    Why do they listen? because as attorneys themselves they have been through the law school/justice system and they obviously believed the crap spun to them by defendants who should know better and carry their naivety through to their judicial appointments.

    It’s only because of the lack of understanding of the effects of serious crimes on victims reflecting in paltry sentencing that the 3 strikes law has come about…………….and the judiciary need to change their ways.

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  29. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    I don’t suppose anyone has studied the Finland experience, which purposefully set out to reduce the prison population with the goal of reducing crime. It worked. Look up the stats.

    But if we are determined to go down the lock ‘em up route, I have two suggestions to accelerate the process:

    1. Just lock up any Maori caught for anything, like expired WOF or parking ticket. They are our worst offenders, so the sooner they are all locked up, the better, surely.

    2. Why three strikes? Where’s the research? What is wrong with one strike?

    How do mantras develop a life of their own?

    Why are some politicians so ignorant?

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  30. gravedodger (1,526 comments) says:

    @ Luc 10 18. Presuming you are referring to the politicians you support, you just enlighten us, we are waiting for your analysis.

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  31. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    gravedigger

    Sorry, I don’t support any politicians. It’s true that every three years I usually give someone my vote, but that does not indicate support – more like a stab in the dark.

    I try hard not to do belief, just as I try hard not to do political ideology.

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  32. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    “[DPF: Ta. I thought Labour had gone back to parole at two thirds of a sentence, for serious offences - reversing their 2002 change to lower it to one third?]

    Graeme E: They did, but as best as I can figure it (the criminal justice statutes – sentencing, and parole – are annoyingly complicated) the change is not yet in force.”

    The changes were due to come into force when the Sentencing Council became operative. Because National abolished that body before it began (and well done for doing so, might I say), the other changes didn’t come into operation.

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  33. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    Why is the three the magic number? Whre’s the research to support that. Or does it just sound nice?

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  34. Graeme Edgeler (3,273 comments) says:

    The changes were due to come into force when the Sentencing Council became operative. Because National abolished that body before it began … he other changes didn’t come into operation.

    Yes.

    Of course, National hasn’t abolished the Sentencing Council.

    The Sentencing Council Act 2007 was passed in July 2007. The Sentencing Council Act 2007 Commencement Order 2007 brought the entire Act into force in November 2007.

    And none of this has been undone. No bill is even before Parliament to do it, either – someone just seems to think they’re Muldoon to someone’s else’s Fitzgerald =)

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  35. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    “Whre’s the research to support that. Or does it just sound nice?”

    well the research showed you should just shoot them outright….. but as John key is such a nice guy, and looking for re election he thought three chances, and then a stiff telling off was in order

    (oh, and the maori party wouldnt support three without parole)

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  36. Rex Widerstrom (5,307 comments) says:

    malcolm:

    Thanks for continuing this debate in a logical and non-personal manner. We’re both in agreement with the ubiquitous man on the Kilbirnie omnibus when he wants to “put the worst of these bastards into prison for longer”.

    But our prisons are mostly full of people who fall far short of that definition. Many have committed non-violent offences and thus ought to be repaying their debt to society in society, earning just enough to keep themselves while recompensing their victims.

    My second concern is that, having thrown them in there, we turn our backs. Unless we’re never going to let anyone out ever, we need to rheabilitate not because we’re “soft on crims” but bercause successful rehabilitation = a safer society.

    I’ve two examples, just in the past week, of what’s wrong with what we’re doing. From Australia admittedly, but the systems are very similar.

    1. Australia has asset seizure laws used against criminals. So an old man, a war veteran, gets robbed of his valuables. The valuables are sold for cash. The criminals use the cash to buy sports cars. The criminals are caught, the sports cars seized and sold by the government. Which keeps the money. The “justice” system says the cars weren’t the property of the victim so he’s not entitled to them, or the proceeds from their sale. “Tough luck,” says the Premier, “we can’t go setting a precedent of giving restitution to every crime victim”.

    2. Australia’s prisons are bulging, with petty criminals sentenced to do time and parole boards refusing to release even the best behaved prisoners and re-imprisoning for even minor breaches (missing an appointment with a parole officer, say). So people ate serving their full time and then being released with no supervision. And the Minister of Corrections has been forced to admit that fully 61% of those assessed as needing the Violent Offender Treatment Program will never get it because he’s not prepared to resource the Corrections Department to deliver it.

    The end result of this “get tough” policy: victims no better off, and offenders having received no treatment being released with no supervision.

    I’m sure the man on the Kilbirnie on the Kilbirnie omnibus thinks the “get tough” rhetoric sounds great. But in terms of making the streets on which he lives, and the bus on which he travels, safer, it’s bullshit.

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  37. tvb (4,234 comments) says:

    This law should be made retro-active – that is past convictions count for up to strike one and two, but strike 3 will only count for offences committed after the law was passed. So the serious offenders get at least one chance. As for our bulging prisons that is a reflection of our bulging crime rate. Prison is the last option – after home/community detention. There are simply a lot of bad people about, which is grim for their potential victims. As for three strikes on murder – what is the point of that. Who commits 3 separate murders for heavens sake.

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  38. Pete George (23,159 comments) says:

    Three strikes does seem to be a feel tough political slogan pandering to the plebs. But, as some have said, it doesn’t deal with reducing the problem (of crime), it just helps lock more people into lives of imprisonment and offending.

    Sentences have increased significantly over the past decade due to voter pressure, and we still have rampant crime.

    I guess if the people want ever increasing prison populations and don’t care about trying steer at least some junior crims away from crime then “we” get what “we” deserve.

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  39. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    Graeme E: True. I suppose I should have said “did not proceed with” but, regardless, remain pleased at the current non-existence of the sentencing council.

    For the record, I have no real issue with the concept of the bill, but I do question it’s effectiveness as a deterrent. My experience is that most crims committing the crimes covered by it only think about what they are doing after they have done it, and some not even then. Now, if it covered burglary as well then it really might have an effect. We would need to go back to the old (pre-2003) definition, though.

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  40. Pete George (23,159 comments) says:

    Harsher sentences = harsher criminals?

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  41. dad4justice (7,898 comments) says:

    I find the whole bill another exercise in futility invented by some short arse politician toying to make a name for himself. Judges already have the adequate sentence for the repeat offender or the worse of the worse criminal.It’s called Preventive Detention. I say judges should apply that more and forget this meaningless woffle. Liberal judges appointed by continuous socialist governments are the problem.

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  42. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    A sensible sentencing solution:

    Let’s examine the facts. Maori make up 50% of our prison muster, yet are only about 15% of our general population. Unless one believes Maori are somehow genetically programmed to be bad, there is something amiss in the way we deal with our Maori offenders.

    As I heard John Tamihere say one afternoon, if you think all are treated equally before the courts, just spend an afternoon at the Manukau courts.

    Therefore, and in accordance with my established problem solving procedure of picking the low hanging fruit first, I suggest we insert an extra stage into our justice system: a review panel for sentences handed out to Maori. The panel’s brief is that the only reason to jail any of their clients is if they are a danger to any members of society. Aside from that, prison sentences get commuted to a non-custodial alternative approved by the panel.

    And I don’t subscribe to the view that if an offender doesn’t succeed in the alternative sentence and reoffends then we should double up on the jail time. Rather, we look at what is wrong with the alternative programme that the reoffending occurred.

    I would also open negotiations with all these Iwi who have received, quite rightly, great dollops of cash from the government and ask: what can you do for your people to keep them out of our jails?

    And maybe we should take a look at ourselves and ask the same question.

    Evidently, it costs about $90,000 per year to jail people, yet jail is proven to be counterproductive.

    How bizarre.

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