Maxim on Three Strikes

May 5th, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Maxim Institute has a paper by Professor and Dr on the law. It sets out arguments against the law, the main being a third strike of a maximum sentence is not a proportionate response.

Now I disagree with them in opposing the law. I think it will e a welcome step towards stopping the idiocy that we keep letting offenders out after minimal sentences for repeated serious offending.

But Brookbanks and Ekins have also proposed some amendments to the law, which I do partially agree with, and the Government could consider at the committee of the house stage. They are:

Authorise judges not to impose the maximum sentence on strike three if this would be manifestly unjust (this amendment would bring the legislation into line with the assertions being made by the ACT Party).

At the moment the law directs a Judge to impose the maximum sentence without parole for a third strike, unless this is manifestly unjust in which case they can give the maximum sentence with parole.

So long as the threshold for “manifestly unjust” is very high (and case law suggests it would be) and not used frequently, I support this change. There may be times when a 14 year sentence for aggravated robbery, even with parole eligibility, is manifestly unjust.

Retain presumptive eligibility for parole, or if this is not done, authorise judges not to order the sentence be served without eligibility for parole on strike two if this would be manifestly unjust.

I don’t agree with this proposed change. I regard parole as generally being a failed experiment, and the certainty of no parole for a second strike is important. Possibly could live with a “manifestly unjust” exception again but I worry some members of the Judiciary would interpret that to apply to every case as they don’t agree with the law.

Modify what counts as a strike from a conviction for a qualifying offence alone to at least a custodial sentence for a qualifying offence and preferably a custodial sentence of some length, say at least two years.

This doesn’t catch enough people, and it means that if Judges keep giving light sentences for serious violent offences, the offender never comes under the three strikes regime.

Make provision for strikes to lapse over time (perhaps after ten years).

I think this can be reasonable. Maybe a bit longer period than ten years, but I have sympathy for someone who does a first and second strike at 18 and 19 and a third strike at say 55, and they automatically get the maximum sentence. One could argue this can be dealt with under manifestly unjust exceptions, but I think an incentive for a strike to lapse is a good thing.

However I would make it a condition for a strike to lapse, that the offender is crime-free for that entire period of 10+ years. Not just of serious offences, but of all offences.

Make specific provision in strike three sentencing to recognise a guilty plea, allowing judges to discount the maximum sentence by up to 25 percent, depending on when in the trial process the plea is made.

At present, an offender gets a “discount” on their sentence of 5% to 33% for an guilty plea, depending on how early they plead guilty.

There is a potential problem that there is no incentive to plead guilty to a third strike offence. Some discount for an early guilty plea could solve that problem, and not undermine the regime overall.

Authorise the courts not to impose a life sentence for murder and manslaughter if this would be manifestly unjust.

Again, so long as manifestly unjust holds a very high threshold, I could love with that.

Specify that some instances of manslaughter (most notably accidents arising out of gross negligence) do not constitute a qualifying offence.

I suspect very few people convicted of that type of manslaughter have criminal histories, and it would normally be a first strike anyway. However I think the proposed change has some merit, in differentiating between types of manslaughter.

I’m not sure if the Government is open to changes, but it would be good to hear debate on them. Maybe Opposition MPs can move them as amendments.

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38 Responses to “Maxim on Three Strikes”

  1. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    DPF:

    I regard parole as generally being a failed experiment, and the certainty of no parole for a second strike is important.

    Do you really understand how parole operates, DPF? Assuming you get it, you’re subject to a period of intense scrutiny during which things which would cause you little or no trouble in the real world (a small amount of cannabis showing up in your urine, being late to appointments) can get you sent back to prison. Your overworked parole officer can do little more than run the basic checks. He or she has no resources (least of all time) to help you with any problems you might be having readjusting. If you get a nasty one, too bad… unlike a judge’s decision, a parole officer’s decision to throw you in jail isn’t reviewable as of right.

    Assuming you tiptoe your way through all that, at the end of parole you’re completely unshackled, and free to do pretty much as you please. There’s no incentive to behave, nor is there any particular disincentive not to.

    Parole as it exists and is administered now is a failure, I agree. But that doesn’t mean we abandon it in some “get tough” macho piece of posing. We review it and make it work.

    On the other “three strikes” thread Yvette said (in relation to Rikihana):

    He should obviously have had the three years from the first sentence to complete before any consideration was given to what the second sentencing should be for a crime that seems near enough identical: drunken attack with a knife.

    That’s an idea worth considering. Effectively “lifetime parole” for some offences… or at least the threat of serving the remainder of your sentence is left over your head as a disincentive to any further offending for much longer than the present parole periods. Couple that, and other disincentives, with a properly resourced Parole Service focused on rehabilitation and equipped to properly assess reoffending risk, able to provide released prisoner who need it with accommodation and help getting a job. Combine the carrot and the stick, with the balance moving more from carrot to stick after each offence…

    There’s all sorts of intelligent measures we can take but they require that we acknowledge that we’re dealing with human beings (however much we may dislike or even despise them) and that human beings respond differently to different stimuli. A home and a job may be all one offender ever wanted, while another is simply an evil sadist. Yet the entire system presently treats both pretty much the same.

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

    Richard EKINS.

    I regard parole as generally being a failed experiment

    But prison has been a wonderful success?

    [DPF: In terms of keeping the community safe while prisoners are in prison, pretty much so]

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  3. thedavincimode (6,803 comments) says:

    First strike for Professor Warren Brookbanks and Dr Richard Elkins.

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  4. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    Some form of parole, whether as part of the sentence or some sort of release conditions, is a must. The good thing about parole is that an arrest can result in immediate recall as someone is still serving a sentence. A breach of release conditions is a court date at some point in the future.

    Now I disagree with them in opposing the law. I think it will e a welcome step towards stopping the idiocy that we keep letting offenders out after minimal sentences for repeated serious offending.

    Can you provide stats for this or is this just standard rhetoric? Idiocy and minimal are strong terms – even some examples of cases that you think this applies to would be interesting.

    The custodial sentence threshold makes a great deal of sense. That is the best reflection of the seriousness of a crime. To use a lower end example (and hopefully not a qualifying offense) – Male assaults Female has a maximum of two years. Police often charge even the most minor of assaults under that section when summary assault or crimes act assault (six and 12 months respectivley) would more than adequately cover the culpability. The upshot on conviction is that a person has a relativley serious violence conviction (MAF) but that only tells part of the story – a convict and discharge as sentence or sentence if called upon is a fairly clear indication that the Court considered the culbability very low.

    A time limit on qualifying offences would ease a bad law. Not so sure that should be completely offence free but perhaps violence and serious property offence free. It would be pretty harsh getting locked up because of an intervening charge of careless driving for example.

    The problem with any arbitrary sentencing regime is that you end up with a rigid sentencing regime that fails to take into account circumstances of individual offences and offenders – inevitably it will lead to injustice (and remember the only out, currently, is serious injustice so the law is saying that it is quite happy with mere injustice).

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  5. BlairM (2,341 comments) says:

    It can’t be all stick and no carrot. Without the possibility of parole, you have nothing to lose in being a violent prisoner who makes trouble and tries to escape. So some parole is necessary, but for some prisoners, the effort is wasted.

    Otherwise, I posted on my own blog here how it is a shame that many people think this law is about punishment. No. It is about deterrence – stopping the crime from happening in the first place. If we’re judging it on how fairly it punishes people, then it’s probably unfair. But I’d rather keep our streets safe than work on some perfectly fair system for low-lifes who have broken the law three times.

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  6. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    Much of Professor Brookbanks’ contribution to the Maxim debates from which Brookbanks and Ekins’ paper came was quite reasonable stuff – it was notable that almost alone among academics in this country, he was happy to acknowledge that 1) academic opinion in the US was evenly divided as to the efficacy of three strikes laws: and 2) zero tolerance policing was the only credible explanation for the precipitate drop in crime in New York State, and that it was clearly an idea we should consider here; and 3) the fact that whereas prior to 1994 there was a net inflow of parolees to California, the fact that post 1994 there is a net outflow from the state is probably evidence of the deterrent effect claimed.

    There is a very good reason the qualifying sentence was dropped, and not substituted for one of three – or even two – years. In short, the lenient sentences judges hand down mean too many serious violent offenders would escape if a qualifying sentence was retained.

    It was not difficult for my researcher to find 20 odd examples of serious repeat violent offenders who received sentences of less than three years. Just a couple of examples: Richard Allen Hawe, sentenced to two years six months for robbing and indecently assaulting a woman in her own home; Lloyd Nathan Currie, two charges of GBH including on a female prison officer, threatening to kill on two occasions, aggravated robbery. Longest sentence for any of those, two years nine months (after two previous sentences of under three years); Joshua James Little, Aggravated robbery of a man in 2003. Previous convictions for robbery, assault, possession of offensive weapons. Two years six months for the aggravated robbery. There are many more.

    The other reason for removing the qualifying sentence is of course as others have noted – it is an invitation to Judges to sentence repeat offenders 10 or 20 times to 2 years 10 months. And if I read the commentary to this and more particularly the previous thread correctly, even Mr Widerstrom recognises that overly lenient Judges are part of the reason measures such as 3S are promoted as part of a strategy to reduce violent offending.

    [DPF: Any comments on the other proposed amendments? I agree with you on qualifying strikes, but thought some of the other amendments had some merit]

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  7. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    The perception of leniency amongst the judiciary drives 3 strikes, yes. In some cases (such as the one highlighted in the other thread) there seems to be no other possible explanation, though I can’t be certain not having heard the evidence.

    In other cases in which sentencing appears lenient, there may be very good reasons for the sentence and the charge may sound much worse, to someone who doesn’t know the facts, than the crime suggests. As the report says:

    It is very important to see that there are often many quite different types of act, of varying degrees of wrongfulness, that fall within the same offence category. For example, robbery might be a street robbery or an organised bank raid/home invasion.

    Why Rikihana wasn’t charged with something in a much higher sentencing band I don’t know… given the offences with which he was charge the judge’s hands were tied as to the penalty and he may very well have gone home that night cursing the Police for limiting the sentence he could hand down.

    OTOH I’ve seen people vastly over-charged by Police. given a very poor defence, and sentenced for an offence of far greater seriousness than the facts of the case really suggest they ought to be.

    The system is imperfect, I acknowledge, and I’m amongst those working to change it. But having politicians – prone as they are to prostituting themselves for lowest-common-denominator votes – set “one size fits all” sentences is not the answer.

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  8. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    The point is david if these are the sentences for violent crimes, it must mean that other crimes are treated less than these.
    this sets the bar far too low in my mind and the fault lays at the door of the judiciary.

    I take Rex’s point about the probation services lack of time to properly supervise people into rehabilitation to being a productive contributing member of society.
    Personally I would prefer a short served sentence for non violent crime coupled with the remainder bonded non conviction (any crime) for a few years is better than parole as the prisoners see their sentence (hill) as not that handed down but to the parole date.

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  9. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    I’ve brought your thread here as you make a very good point that we need to move in an entirety and this isn’t voiced with the three strikes law per se.
    I think an intentional policy or plan from the National govt is what is needed here.
    I think we all agree that the same old same old won’t work.
    we have to get to the kids, the teens and the first offenders as well as educate and heal so that they don’t stay on the same path. That means proper parole as well, if only for society’s protection.
    I am for 6yrs sentence and 3yrs commuted for 5 yrs after serving for any conviction.

    Money wise that necessarily means a cut off and 3 strikes is it.
    Though I take your point about the serial rapist (10 offenses) and that could also apply to 10 burglaries or TDA as well.

    # Rex Widerstrom (2684) Says:
    May 5th, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    All good points Mike. The separate, betetr resourced prisons for the non-third-strikers is a brillianrt one. But where is it in this law? Where are the plans to introduce it later? Where are the plans to address the lack of resources for parole? To intervene in the lives of young offenders? Nowhere.

    If this was a start, I wouldn’t be so opposed. But it’s not… in fact National has done the opposite of what you propose and cut funding to PARS, a very effective (considering we’re only talking $2.4 million) organisation that tries to do the very things you’re talking about.

    If they wanted to reduce crime they’d do what you’re suggesting and three strikes. Instead, they’re bullshitting us.

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

    “It sets out arguments against the law, the main being a third strike of a maximum sentence is not a proportionate response.”

    WTF???

    “Gee, I am really sorry Mr Low life criminal, I have no other course of action open to me but to sentence you to the maximum sentence possible for this, your third violent offence”

    I am so sick of hearing from these wankers, I wish a tenth of the energy and time they spend wringing their hands about criminal scum was spent caring and fighting for the victims.

    Garrett is doing great work, all power to the man.

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  11. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Thank you BB for bringing up the victims and their families.
    we don’t give them first place.

    I should have said up front I support the vicitims having first right as to whether the offender should get parole or not, both at sentencing and at any parole hearing.
    I would prefer a letter to the victim asking if they support parole at this time. if they say no then it is no until next year.

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  12. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Thanks for that, Mike NZ. Actually you’ve encapsulated my argument really well: three strikes should be an end point, not a starting point. But not only have Garrett and his supporters in National like Collins made it the srating point, there’s no plans for anything else. Fact is there’s really no rehabilitation in the system at present, even for offenders who want it.

    And there needs to be, not because I’m a “wanker” cuddling up to “criminal scum” big bruv, but because effective rehabilitation = less victims whereas Three Strikes means at least three victims. As parts of a whole, both have a place. As a stand alone measure, Three Strikes does not.

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  13. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    MikeNZ:

    I would prefer a letter to the victim asking if they support parole at this time. if they say no then it is no until next year.

    It doesn’t work in practice, Mike. Recently in WA there was the story of a 30 year old man with a great future ahead of him who was knocked down by a speeding drink driver. He’s now a paraplegic, confined to a wheelchair, and barely able to speak. Yet he appeared in court to say he’d forgiven the driver because “everyone makes mistakes” and asked the judge to basically convict and discharge.

    Now part of me can only stand in awe at this young man’s ability to forgive. But the other part of me knows there’s no way someone as reckless and dangerous as the young man who hit him should escape justice, when the next person convicted of the same offence goes to jail for the standard term and then the next one never gets paroled – despite being a model prisoner – because his victim is embittered.

    Yes, we need to work with victims and take their feelings into account. We certainly need to provide them more practical assistance (including compensation), which in itself is an acknowledgement of their suffering, But we cannot let them control the process.

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

    Rex

    I did not have you in mind when I made those comments, but hey, if that cap fits….

    How about this, effective incarceration = NO victims of repeat offenders.

    I do agree with you re the fact that we have to get to the point where there are three victims, but that is always going to be the case because people like you, Rex, insist on giving these pieces of shit a second and third chance.

    I just cannot work out how an obviously intelligent man like yourself can be swayed by the sob stories from these low life, I know you have some experience of the penal system, I do not, however, I come from a place where many of my child hood pals ended up in the nick.

    Recently I caught up with a few of them, they are not “victims” Rex and nor were they ready to stop their criminal offending or be swayed by the chance of rehabilitation, the change in these men came about with age and the acceptance that they had NOBODY else to blame for the time they spent locked up.

    Their words Rex (not mine) is that rehabilitation is a waste of time.

    I would prefer one strike for violent offenders, no second or third chance, no second or third chance to cave in the side of some poor bastards head simple because “he looked at me funny aye”, no second or third victim spending the rest of his or her life in fear and possibly in pain.

    Fuck them, lock the bastards up for as long as possible, if they misbehave in prison then keep them there until they have learnt their lesson or have been broken by the system, I want them terrified of ever going back.

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

    [DPF: In terms of keeping the community safe while prisoners are in prison, pretty much so]

    In terms of keeping the community safe from prisoners who are in prison – sure.

    But in terms of keeping the community safe (full stop), or in terms of keeping the community safe from prisoners who’ve done their time? That seems markedly less clear.

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  16. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Sorry Rex I was talking about parole.
    At sentencing and at parole dates was my comment.

    That means the power is out of the hands of a system (and the lawyers and their deals) and in the hands of victims and their families.

    If the offender can’t show he is making an effort to get educated to next level, to deal with his mindsets and values that led to offending then the victims (who should be the 2nd person to get copies of the reports if they choose) can say no wait till next year.
    This can only be finite to the end of sentence and all sentences should have a bond period anyway for good behaviour.

    As a rule I’d like to see a 5yr period at end of sentence for all offences, take 20-33% of total sentence at least.

    For minor crimes a 3 month or 6 month sentence on bond for 5 yrs might be just what is needed for someone to come right.
    If they re offend, 1. they go to jail for bond period first. then they come before the court for 2nd offence and then get sentenced.

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

    Hard to see parole as an experiment when it has been around since the early 1800s.

    I wonder just how much offending is done while on parole (not including some of the stupid breaches of parole that our probation officers come up with). Currently prisoners with a sentence of longer than two years are subject to release on parole, while those with a sentence shorter are not- they are just kicked out at half time.

    My experience is it is those subject to shorter sentences who re-offend more quickly, but that is just anecdotal.

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  18. MT_Tinman (3,205 comments) says:

    The reason I’ve never committed murder is because I know if I did I’d get caught and end up in prison.

    Rex, Graeme etc. you appear to forget the deterrent aspect that does work more often than not despite what the handwringers insist.

    This three strikes law won’t stop crime but it will stop some crime so some poor bastard who would have been beaten, killed and/or robbed will not now be a victim

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

    Tinman,

    the reason that I have never committed murder is because I think it is wrong.

    But whatever does it for you!

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  20. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    big bruv:

    It’ll no doubt shock you to learn I agree with your mates. “Rehabilitation” as we have it at present is a joke. I keep repeating myself but every person is different and we respond to stimulii in different ways. I tend to be quite anti-authoritarian. Fortunately I recognise this in myself and channel it into working for what I hope is positive change.

    But if I’d committed a serious crime “Big Brother” waving his finger and threatening would probably incentivise me to see what I could get away with just to buck authority. If, say, someone got me working for PARS upon my release it’d quite possibly straighten me out. Another parolee might just see it as being forced to waste his time in a boring office. He might be the type who quite likes being bossed around (which is why he joined a gang) and so a spell in something like the Army might be what he needs. And so on.

    However that doesn’t happen. Your kicked out of prison and kicked around by a parole officer (there’s some good ones, but even they’re too busy to be anything more than rule enforcers) or, as Graeme reminded me above, not paroled at all. You thus get little or no help to create a life different from the one you left.

    The kind of people we’re both worried about – the unstoppable sociopaths – get the same treatment. Resources are wasted on them when they should be in a secure mental facility not to be released unless and until they’re no longer a danger. But first we’d have to weed them out… and we don’t even do that.

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  21. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    MikeNZ:

    The example I referred to was a victim being involved at sentencing. I think we may be at cross-purposes?

    My point is that we can’t have a system where victims decide the lenth of sentencing (by demanding parole be refused). I bear a grudge the way other people have wrinkles… I never get rid of them! So if you’re unlucky enough to run me over and not the forgiving guy I cited in my earier comment, why should you do more jail time for the same offence??

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  22. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Rex
    I disagree.
    Whilst sentencing term should be for jury and/or judge.
    The victim has every right to decide whether their offender should come up for parole and that should be enforced by society as it is integral (should they choose) to getting their power back, their rehab and for vengeance (all three!).

    The state is only a tertiary victim like the victims workmates and their extended family, whereas their nuclear family could probably be considered the victims secondary.

    At present the justice system is focused through/on the offender and should be through/on the victim but aiming to rehabilitate the offender if possible. if not then society must be protected.

    It’s one reason I support the death penalty where there is no shadow of a doubt that the offender did it and with malice aforethought.

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  23. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Grahame
    seems both to me.

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  24. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    MikeNZ : I understand your perspective but that doesn’t answer my question. And I really want to know, I’m not asking to pick a fight… how can there be fairness in a system wherein the term of imprisonment I serve can be far longer than the one you serve if we committed exactly the same offence, with the same (lack of) aggravation and mitigation, and with similar criminal records (or lack thereof) based solely on whether our respective victims bear a grudge?

    What if I’ve been a model prisoner and you haven’t? What if I’m remorseful and you’re not? Sure our respective victims might consider those factors but yours might be so forgiving (like the guy I mentioned earlier) he wants you out of prison even though you’re a bad sort, whereas mine doesn’t care how much I’ve changed during my time inside.

    It just goes against all concepts of fairness. Having said that, I’m by no means averse to victims having an absolute right to make a submission. And I’d love to see the system they have in some US states, where victims and / or their families get to say what they like to offenders, in court, before they’re sentenced.

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  25. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    saying what you like is not the same as saying tough titty you sit you shit.
    1 it gives power to the victim.
    2. if you victimise someone again you know what to expect.
    3 you weren’t fair to your victim, guess what it works both ways.

    as for the other guy he was lucky, shame.
    it is fair to the victim.
    personally I don’t give a shit for the offenders fairness up against a similar or same offence/offender.
    Its time we let vicitms have some vengence as well instead of disempowering them and abrogating their rights in favour of a learned few and the hand wringers.

    I sound quite conservative there don’t I?
    so all that needs to be read in totality with all the other stuff I’ve written on this.

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  26. CharlieBrown (1,015 comments) says:

    What is manifestly unjust? I would argue that someone who brutally murders several people at an RSA, or murders someone whilst burgling a dairy and DOES NOT spend the remainder of their life behind bars is manifestly unjust.

    I cannot believe that such a key law in NZ uses such a subjective term.

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  27. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Heh, yes you do Mike :-D Thanks for a frank answer. We’ll have to agree to differ on that one but it’s pleasantly surprising to see what we do agree on. And frankly, if the politicians haven’t satisfied either of us, then I’d suggest they’re so far off the mark as to be navigating the whole field of criminal justice with nothing more than an erroneous belief in their own infallibility.

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  28. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    MT_Tinman (776) Says:

    May 5th, 2010 at 6:56 pm
    The reason I’ve never committed murder is because I know if I did I’d get caught and end up in prison.

    You are kidding right? Personally I don’t commit murder because I’m just not into killing people for shits and giggles. I think that is kind of wrong (call me old fashioned).

    Although to be clear if I did commit murder I would NOT get caught. :)

    Rex – your point above that the *perception* of lenient sentences is promoting change is a good one. My understanding – and I can’t get the figures – is that sentencing lengths for violent offences in particular have increased. The CA has just released a tarriff case for sexual violation that it believes will increase sentences over all for that crime for example.

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  29. Sean (301 comments) says:

    “Authorise the courts not to impose a life sentence for murder and manslaughter if this would be manifestly unjust.”

    I’m struggling to think of a situation where a life sentence for murder would be manifestly unjust.

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  30. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    GPT1:

    Damn, I wish you could get the figures. I’d buy a billboard across the road from Garrett’s house and have them posted up there, for one thing. Why is it that you can’t? Is it worth an OIA?

    We already have tougher sentencing, as you say. Yet people like Garrett and some here seem to think that if we keep on making it longer and longer, somehow we’ll reach the “sweet spot” where criminals say, quite rationally, “Right, that’s it, the tariff is now too high… it’s a quiet life for me from now on”.

    In fact, as big bruv notes, that realisation, if it comes at all, comes only with maturity. And for some, it will never come. To quote the report again:

    Unfortunately, warnings often fail to change the behaviour of people, either because they are unnoticed, or because they are ignored, or because they are simply forgotten. The understanding, or insight, that an offender “brings to the table” will invariably be critical if a warning is to be effective.

    Of course, there are rational offenders—fraudsters and such like—who undoubtedly have the capacity to plan and to learn from experience. But we would venture that a majority of those likely to be targeted by this legislation will not have that capacity, for reasons of their ability to learn from experience and the impact of drugs and other intoxicating substances.

    And it’s not a matter of “well tough for them, they’ll go to jail then”. If longer sentences don’t deter them (and they won’t, in the main), we will have more victims.

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  31. Muzza M (291 comments) says:

    Why don’t we just make prison a place no bastard/bitch ever wants to go back to? Bread and water, hard labour, solitary confinement, …

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  32. MT_Tinman (3,205 comments) says:

    GPT1 (1128) Says:
    May 5th, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    MT_Tinman (776) Says:

    May 5th, 2010 at 6:56 pm
    The reason I’ve never committed murder is because I know if I did I’d get caught and end up in prison.

    You are kidding right? Personally I don’t commit murder because I’m just not into killing people for shits and giggles. I think that is kind of wrong (call me old fashioned).

    No, I’m not kidding although, of course I never suggested I would commit murder without due cause.

    As for killing people, can’t honestly see the difference between bowling a Minto type and putting down a rabid dog except of course, I’d have sympathy for the dog.

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  33. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    Rex – I am sure the figures are out there. When I say “can’t” I should really say “am too busy and lazy to look for them” but definately worth looking into. MOJ might have them – I am sure that they are available (although they would only tell a broad brush story).

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  34. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    Rex said:
    We already have tougher sentencing, as you say. Yet people like Garrett and some here seem to think that if we keep on making it longer and longer, somehow we’ll reach the “sweet spot” where criminals say, quite rationally, “Right, that’s it, the tariff is now too high… it’s a quiet life for me from now on”.
    That major difficulty is that most ‘clients’ of the justice system are not that rational. Even the innocent ones tend to be a bit stupid. Risk and reward doesn’t compute the same as for most of us.

    Still we have the really helpful suggestion from Muzza M: Why don’t we just make prison a place no bastard/bitch ever wants to go back to? Bread and water, hard labour, solitary confinement, …

    Thanks Muzza. Clearly the solution, skip any new legislation and just go for the bumper sticker policy is best. Perhaps a quick look at history though (just for fun). Britain used to hang people with gay abandon and the crime rate in pre-Victorian England was far in excess of anything we comprehend today so hard to argue massive deterrance works. And then prison itself – it is not that much fun. Go there sometime. It is absolutely horrible – or at least Pap is – cold, dark, noisy and confined. Only the saddest and most institutionalised “like” prison. I have never come across a punter who wants to go back – admittedly they struggle with that recollection at the time of offending but when it comes to sentence they are universally disinterested in prison.

    So believe it or not criminals already don’t like prison and yet the prison population keeps growing.

    Next bumper sticker please.

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  35. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    GPT1
    Muzza’s opinion has validity for the incorrigable so please don’t put him down.

    Boloni has it right, those who are crims and that is what they want to do should not have it easy and shouldn’t be able to affect the next generation.
    That’s why I advocate a two tier prison system.

    But as Rex quite rightly points out it’s a waste of money if we don’t do probation right.

    That goes hand in hand with trade school and the next educational rung for the early offenders and youth as well as proper psycho not the “tick a box” mentality we have at present.

    From a resource point of view building new prisons with attendant borstals for the early offenders is the answer, as we can site them for the country’s needs not the prisoners and their families.

    Similarly they can be properly staffed and given the facilities they need which can be shared between the surrounding prison units.

    Let’s not forget Celia Lashlie’s books and opinions on what to do before prison as prison is after the fact.

    This may mean invasive interference into family life once someone is involved with the youth aid and youth court and the hand wringers need to be aware of this and be part of the solution not a hindrance.

    As for the old prison stock, that can be for the three strike type offender until they are decommissioned so we’ll increase the space.

    Lets also look at making sure prisoners realise that because they won’t live by societies rules they aren’t part of society and therefore don’t have the same rights as a normal person whilst in prison.
    Just like a insolvent doesn’t have the same rights financially as a normal person.

    No TV’s in rooms, all calls and mail monitored, not being able to vote whilst in prison, on probation or bonded to a court for good behaviour as part of a sentence.
    All having the same rules for hair length, jewelry etc.

    The same old, same old is not dealing to the future and we have to holistically plan this and it will take two or three terms or even Govts to sort it.

    The increase of prison warders, probation officers, social workers, Psycho-whatevers, trade teachers etc is also an additional cost.

    Crime doesn’t pay, it costs society a lot of money that could be spent elsewhere so we give people a chance but if they won’t take it, tough shit, the protection of society is paramount.

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  36. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    MikeNZ:

    This may mean invasive interference into family life once someone is involved with the youth aid and youth court and the hand wringers need to be aware of this and be part of the solution not a hindrance.

    Yes, nothing makes me quite as angry (well, aside from bumper sticker slogans about prisons) as people who claim to want to reduce our prison population but who scream “hands off!” when a young offender whose family influences are obviously a major contributor to their offending first comes before the courts.

    If we’re serious about reducing crime we need to be honest about the causes. I agree with liberals who say the causes include poverty, alienation, unemployment etc etc. However the conservatives (it’s usually them, anyway) who say sh*t parenting and bad family influences are also at play are equally right. And sometimes one can’t help but conclude that some criminals are genetically doomed from birth (though I’m not for one moment suggest we abandon efforts to prevent their offending… it can be done, but only if we get tough from before their first offence).

    You seem, however, to be under the impression that prisons are easier than they are:

    No TV’s in rooms

    The ones I’ve been in allow small (usually 14 inch) CRT sets. Considering you’re locked up for around 12 hours a day (sometimes longer due to staff shortages) a TV is in fact a good way to maintain order… just as some parents use it as a babysitter so do prisons. I think if you talked to prison officers most wouldn’t want them removed as boredom = trouble. And frankly, having nothing to do but watch TV for half your life is punishment for anyone with an IQ over 70… specially when the prison library is full of books with a reading age of 11.

    all calls and mail monitored

    Already happens.

    not being able to vote whilst in prison

    Used to be true if you were in for more than 3 years, soon to be true of everyone. Pointless, though, IMO… most prisoners won’t care a jot one way or the other.

    All having the same rules for hair length, jewelry etc.

    Happens now. Jewellery is restricted to wedding and/or engagement rings only. Women can have small studs in their ear lobes to stop them closing up.

    I should say this applies to Australian jails… NZ may be more liberal. And in NZ they (quite rightly IMO) allow more leeway to prisoners on remand (and thus considered innocent till proven guilty) than for sentenced prisoners whereas in Australia they don’t.

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  37. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    rex
    I have visited people in prison last 7yrs and the one thing they all say about hifi and tvs is they are played all the time or either loud.
    2 up in a cell and one doesn’t like tv on at night, unless he is 6′” bruiser it stays on.

    Don’t agree with you there, prefer a common room (and access would be a privilege) that way rooms could would be quiet.
    They need to think and study (i know I know they are both dumb or not educated or had bad go of it and over crowded and half of them are looking for a fight and there aren’t enough warders but this conversation was about aiming for:-)

    Hair – they should all be shaved, they’re not.

    Not voting – it isn’t pointless It is a status they don’t have and lose. I don’t care that they don’t care or that it means nothing, it does. they are less than the man in the street whilst a prisoner or on probation.

    prisoners on remand aren’t convicted. yet but they can see what’s coming.

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