A sad reminder why we need three strikes

April 19th, 2011 at 7:33 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

In the late 1990s, the Fourth Reich, a Nazi skinhead gang, became a breeding ground for some of New Zealand’s most vicious killers.

Malcolm George Chaston, 41, was right at its heart.

Yesterday in the High Court in Rangiora, Chaston received one of the harshest sentences in New Zealand history, a life sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 20 years for murder, and a sentence of preventive detention for two sexual crimes. For his surviving victims, the sentence will provide some relief. But for Vanessa Pickering’s family it’s far too late.

That is an appropriate sentence. Hopefully he will never be allowed out again.

His offending began 25 years ago and before he murdered Pickering he had 71 convictions, seven of a violent nature. He had used firearms and explosives, attacked prison guards and tried to escape prison.

It is highly likely that if we had , he would not have amassed 72 convictions, let alone be out of prison to murder Pickering. On the third and an any subsequent strikes he would be getting sentenced to at least seven years with no parole.

In 2002 he got six years for sexual violation. If that had been his third strike, then he would have been locked up for 20 years and not be out until 2022.

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102 Responses to “A sad reminder why we need three strikes”

  1. slightlyrighty (2,499 comments) says:

    Personally I am against the death penalty, however, Mr Chaston does test my resolve in that regard.

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  2. David Garrett (6,668 comments) says:

    There will be few who disagree with you DPF…except some of the current caucus of the Labour Party. Many if not most of them still dont get it – or dont want to get it.

    I cannot give details because of client confidentiality, but at least one of Labour’s front bench recently stated her strong opposition to 3 S describing it as “terrible nonsense.”

    To anticipate the comments to come in this thread, yes, we must try and prevent future Malcolm Chastons following in his bloody footsteps, and yes, 3 S is indeed the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff for the Malcolm Chaston’s we have now, and nothing more. But to extend that analogy, at least the 3S ambulance will arrive and take such people away at a much earlier stage than hitherto, and render them incapable of causing further harm for much longer. That is the most obvious response to those who say it “wont work”.

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  3. alex Masterley (1,495 comments) says:

    SR,
    I have to agree with that view.

    The man has no redeeming features at all.

    Looks like there will be a Fourth Reich reunion in the bin shortly.

    I wouldn’t want to be a prison guard with that lot on the roster.

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  4. alex Masterley (1,495 comments) says:

    Rawprawn makes an interesting link between Chaston and another bloke over there.

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  5. David Garrett (6,668 comments) says:

    Again few – except most members of the Labour caucus and all of the Greens – will disagree that we would all be better off if Chaston was hanged. As is fairly well known, I once advocated a policy change under which that is exactly what would have happened to men like him.

    When we talk about individuals like Chaston, Burton, Bell and many others with lesser known names, whether capital punishment is a good idea is something of a no brainer. However as a matter of public policy the picture is more complicated. Given the “no-one is responsible for anything they do” society we have created, a jury sitting in judgement on Chaston may well have acquitted him, regardless of the evidence, and even if a death sentence was a discretionary rather than a mandatory sentence. It only takes two dickheads on the jury. That is a horrific prospect.

    If Chaston’s crime had been committed after 1 June 2010, he would have been eligible to receive a sentence of LWOP (Life Without Parole) which – unlike the preventive detention he is now serving – means he would NEVER be up for parole. Sadly there will be more Malcolm Chastons. It will be interesting to see if the judiciary is prepared to use the tools parliament has now given them.

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  6. MT_Tinman (3,034 comments) says:

    I’m against the State killing it’s citizens mainly because that seems to me to be the exact reverse of what we have governments for but a case could certainly be made to allow scum like this fellow to kill themselves should they so wish.

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  7. Inventory2 (10,162 comments) says:

    This must be bittersweet for you David. Offenders such as Chaston justify the need for Three Strkes as an ultimate sanction, but that will be no comfort whatsoever for a whanau which has lost a child, a sister and a mother. Your time in Parliament may have been brief David, but unlike many who venture there, you have left a legacy which will benefit New Zealanders.

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  8. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    We don’t need three strikes, we need capital punsihment.

    One strike, out. Reoffending rate zero%.

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  9. BeaB (2,074 comments) says:

    National Radio has spent interminable time on Morning Report examining in boring detail when Chasten could effectively be part of a rehabilitation programme – after 10 years? 15 years? This is not even interesting speculation, much less news.
    Who cares? With any luck the man will die in prison.
    What a waste of life and potential, his victims’ and even his.

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  10. mattyroo (1,001 comments) says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Inventory’s comment re the positive legacy your short time in Parliament left us with David Garrett.

    I’m all for the death penalty, especially in cases such as this and also for supply of drugs. But, as DG points out, a couple of weak-kneed individuals on a jury could result in the acquittal of scum such as Chaston. My preference would be for something such as a cyanide pill vending machine to be located in each prison, with easy access for the prisoners. Thereby making it the prisoners choice to further “opt-out” of society. Perhaps the prisoners could start feeding them to each other…..

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  11. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    We shouldn’t need three strikes.

    Surely raping a stranger at knife point (as he did in 1989) deserved proper punishment. I mean, that’s not a usual teenage mistake that we all make. It’s a sign that he just isn’t made for this society – he needed preventative detention and a bilateral orchiectomy. Now we’ve got god knows how many of his kids with his genes and shit upbringings, who may turn out to be like their father.

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  12. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    Unless our appointed functionaries protect us as they are contracted to then they are creating the environment in which the population at large will start protecting itself.

    That is not going to be pretty.

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  13. nasska (10,841 comments) says:

    I endorse the comment made by Inventory2 at 8.22am. People have sat in parliament for thirty years & have accomplished nothing. David Garrett stuck his head over the parapet & saw the needed legislation through although the action cost him dearly. For his determination I thank him

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  14. Bazar (38 comments) says:

    Yeah i’d support capital punishment for such cases of “murder 1″. Such at this case.

    While i believe everyone has a right to life, i also believe that right is forfit if you take away someone elses. And in this case, its painfully obvious that jail isn’t going to help reform him. So when hes out, he’ll be a danger.

    Why do people oppose capital punishment, and yet do nothing about inforced captivity?
    Doesn’t everyone have a right to freedom as well?

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  15. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    I find it deeply ironic that the same people who are opposed to capital punishment support abortion on demand as a right.

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  16. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    Funny, I’ve always found it deeply ironic that many of the people who are opposed to abortion support capital punishment.

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  17. wreck1080 (3,787 comments) says:

    Would you give David Tamahere death? He was convicted because he was driving their car around. But, it is plausible he nicked it even though the jury didn’t believe this.

    How about David Bain (before he was found not-guilty in subsequent trial)? Do you think he should have gotten death after first being found guilty?

    What about Scott Watson (convicted of killing Ben Smart / Olivia hope on circumstantial evidence)?

    These cases were all ‘murder 1′. But, I oppose death sentence because there was no direct evidence to convict them.

    However, in the case of Graeme Burton, Clayton Whetherston (SIC), this Malcolm clown, where the evidence is so strong that is is impossible they didn’t do it then I support death sentence.

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  18. nasska (10,841 comments) says:

    The day before the day that it was revealed that the police had planted evidence in the Arthur Allan Thomas case was the last day that capital punishment could have been reintroduced in NZ. With the mismanagement & botchups that have occurred in various murder cases since I doubt that the electorate would have a bar of capital punishment.

    That said, a life sentence should mean life without parole for cases such as the murder of Vanessa Pickering.

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  19. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    Explain Mary, its ok to kill an unborn innocent but hyprocracy to be in favor of executing the guilty.

    Not sure you understand irony.

    Wreck, yes I would. You want to be a whiny assed little bitch about people you claim are inocent as being a slma dunk argument against capitial puncishment then I challenge you look at how many people you are satisified to have klled becuase you’re squeamish.

    Because thats what it means when you want to allow the guilty to be free, “just in case”. Innocent people die, thats the facts. the question is howe many innocent people are you happy to allow to die eithe rthrough misscarriage of justice or as the result of total failure which allows dangerous people to be free.

    You’re choice means more innocent death just so you can feel morally superior.

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  20. smttc (710 comments) says:

    Wreck1080, Chasten confessed. I doubt he would have if he was facing the death penalty.

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  21. David Garrett (6,668 comments) says:

    tristanb: You neatly illustrate just why 3S was necessary. Prior to 3S, parliament – as the representative of the rest of us – indicated on many occaisons that longer sentences for certain offences were appropriate. The best example is the increase in the maximum penalty for rape about 20 years ago from 14 to 20 years. But you will look long and in vain for a sentence for rape of 20 – or even 18 – years.

    There is no hiding from the fact that 3S removes judicial discretion at stage 3. That is the point – too many Malcolm Chaston’s were NOT receiving appropriate sentences and as you say, thereby being allowed to commit further outrages and spread his horrible genes.

    And let’s remember that these extreme examples were always with us. albeit in much smaller numbers. Sherwood Young’s 1999 book “Guilty on the Gallows” describes a number of them, including one Bill Bayley, who almost certainly killed twice, some years apart. The difference is we didnt let them out.

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  22. metcalph (1,397 comments) says:

    David Tamihere was convicted because he had the car keys and told a bullshit story about how he came to have them

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  23. wreck1080 (3,787 comments) says:

    @murray, your english is extremely confusing, not exactly sure what you are trying to say.

    I think , you are saying that people convicted of murder 1 on circumstantial evidence should be given death penalty.

    Also, you are saying that I think these people convicted circumstantially are innocent. That is scurrilous and not what I said at all.

    Learn to write.

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  24. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    Murray> .Explain Mary, its ok to kill an unborn innocent but hyprocracy to be in favor of executing the guilty.
    Not sure you understand irony.

    I never said it WAS ok to kill the unborn.

    Thou shallt not kill.
    Full stop.

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  25. metcalph (1,397 comments) says:

    A problem with the circumstantial evidence is unreliable theme that wreck seems to think it that it isn’t so.

    a) I am seen entering a building with a shotgun.
    b) I leave the building after a couple of load bangs are heard.
    c) Two people previously known to be alive before I entered the building are found dead after I left the building.

    That’s circumstantial evidence that I killed those people and most people wouldn’t be in any doubt.

    Secondly what get’s most criminals done is not the circumstantial evidence against them but the bullshit stories they put up to explain away the evidence. (David Tamihere, Scott’s Watson’s statements to the police etc). If David had simply told a story about how he stole the key from the Swede’s possession and left them alive, he wouldn’t have been convicted of murder.

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  26. BeaB (2,074 comments) says:

    Just lock the buggers up. I am quite happy for my taxes to foot the bill to keep them off the streets forever. Just let them live a long, boring life in captivity.
    Much our problem lies with persistent Christian daftness that everyone can be redeemed and saved. They can’t.

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  27. grumpy (249 comments) says:

    Mary Rose @ 9.56,

    It’s entirely consistent to support Capital Punishment and not Abortion on demand – it’s called protecting the innocent.

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  28. ciaron (1,358 comments) says:

    Much our problem lies with persistent Christian daftness that everyone can be redeemed and saved. They can’t.

    Well, no. Salvation and Redemption require repentance. And it think you will find in most cases like these it is indeed the repentance that is absent.

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  29. annie (540 comments) says:

    3 good reasons to not reintroduce capital punishment:

    - the possibility of wrongful conviction
    - brutalising effect on society as a whole
    - juries refusing to convict if capital punishment is a risk.

    However, some crimes do merit permanent incarceration whether a first or a third strike – as an example Rufus Marsh is someone who should never see the outside of a prison again, and he is up for parole.

    I see no reason for our prisons to be as vile as they are though – the punishment should be loss of liberty, not loss of liberty + living in miserable conditions for the rest of your life.

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  30. wreck1080 (3,787 comments) says:

    @metcalf –

    In the Clayton Wetherstons case, the evidence was circumstantial too – however, it is very strong evidence and beyond doubt IMHO.

    We could allow for juries to reach ‘dual ‘ conclusions for capital punishment crimes – “beyond all reasonable doubt” for life imprisonment, or ‘beyond doubt’ for the death penalty.

    I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable with handing out death penalties for ‘weak’ convictions. Weak convictions include cases like David Bain, Scott Watson, and David Tamahere.

    You have to listen to the defendants “Bullshit stories”, or would you take away the right for the defendant to give their side of the story? When you’re talking about taking someones life you want to be absolutely certain.

    Google “death penalty mistakes”

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  31. ciaron (1,358 comments) says:

    I see no reason for our prisons to be as vile as they are though – the punishment should be loss of liberty, not loss of liberty + living in miserable conditions for the rest of your life.

    access to education
    underfloor heating
    full catering
    plasm tellys & playstations

    Yep, really miserable conditions.

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  32. RRM (9,606 comments) says:

    What slightlyrighty said, x2. And almost what wreck1080 said…

    Annie –
    Well said although I disagree with your last point. Some hideous concrete block dungeon on a freezing sub-antarctic island seems like a perfectly fit place for secure long-term storage of our toxic waste. After 5 years inside you become eligible for a lid for your shit bucket, if you’ve behaved yourself. We don’t just lock people up for swimming against the political tide, you have to do something pretty vile to your fellow man to be imprisoned. It needs to be safe and sanitary, and that is all.

    Grumpy –
    It’s entirely consistent to support abortion but not capital punishment. Abortion no more kills a person than a condom does – there is no person. Capital punishment most definitely does kill a person, maybe the wrong one.

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  33. metcalph (1,397 comments) says:

    Wreck,

    There’s nothing weak about David Tamihere’s, Scott Watson’s or David Bain’s convictions.

    I did not say the the defendant should not have the right to tell bullshit stories, I simply pointed out their own bullshit helps them get convicted. Why would I want to stop defendants telling bullshit stories in such a case?

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  34. F E Smith (3,314 comments) says:

    Wreck1080: the Weatherston case is most certainly not circumstantial. Sophie Elliott’s mother was not only in the house at the time, but saw the attack while in was in progress.

    Metcalph: the Watson case is generally considered to be quite weak. The Tamihere case is definitely weak. In the first Bain case the convictions were obtained through a miscarriage of justice and a subsequent jury acquitted him, but the evidence against Bain is stronger than that against Tamihere. David Garrett: could you please explain how ‘a couple of dickheads on the jury’ could lead to an acquittal? Or do you mean instead that it could lead to a hung jury? And everybody, don’t forget that A A Thomas was convicted twice before his innocence was established.

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  35. annie (540 comments) says:

    FE – since when does a jury decision of not guilty equate to innocence? In the above cases, it could just mean the charges weren’t proven, even after repeat trials in some cases.

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  36. F E Smith (3,314 comments) says:

    Annie, it doesn’t. But then, I never said it did.

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

    @ciaron:

    access to education

    Unless we’re talking about someone who’s never going to get out (and those serving lengthy sentences for horrific crimes are in the minority) then the idea is that they don’t offend again. A proven indicator in reducing recidivism is improved education. Besides, in many cases “education” = “learning to read and write”. When I was inside I offered to tutor, thinking it’d give my brain a workout. I was ushered into a room where three blokes were using computer programs that, literally, were telling them C-A-T spelled “cat” and asking them to type it in.

    Release them back into the community and what the hell do you expect they’re going to do? Get jobs? Fill out forms at WINZ? Or break into your house?

    underfloor heating

    Which is (apparently, I haven’t done the sums personally) the most cost effective. It’s certainly the safest. Oh… you’re hinting at no heating at all. So then there’s medical bills to pay. And possibly, like the old fellow who’d slipped and fallen in the mould that grew on his floor in Rimutaka, an ACC claim to pay as well. Or we just let him lay there?

    full catering

    While it’s not too bad at minimum security joints where you can cook for yourself, have you eaten the slop they serve up at maximum security prisons?! Just because there’s a picture once a year at Christmas of a Minister eating chicken don’t imagine for a moment that’s typical of the menu. The smell alone was enough to make me nauseous… I lost so much weight in matter of months that, even with new holes poked in my belt, my pants wouldn’t stay up. And there was so little calcium my teeth went to hell.

    Meals are “catered” because a) there’s too many prisoners to provide kitchen facilities for all of them and b) some maximum security prisoners + sharp and hot things = trouble for everyone, including the Prison Officers.

    plasm tellys & playstations

    Have you tried buying a TV that isn’t a flat screen? I’m not sure of the rules in NZ currently but in Australia a prisoner earns the right to a TV through good behaviour. It must be supplied by relatives or purchased through the prison by the prisoner using the nominal money they earn working (during my time that was less than $20 a week, which also pays for your phone calls and any canteen food). And they have to be no bigger than 14 inches (which is actually damned hard to find in a flat screen!).

    Playstations are no longer allowed here but when they were they were restricted to prisoners on very, very high levels of privilege – usually peer support (trustees) and that level. Prison officers will tell you they want prisoners to have TVs… if you’re locking people up for 13 hours a day you want them to have something to do other than foment trouble… and you want a simple method of control – loss of TV privileges – for minor misbehaviour.

    Try spending some time in a prison before you flap your gums. Aside from all the wonderful catering and your tiny TV, you get to spend every waking and sleeping hour wondering whether one of the handful of real animals you’re locked up with is going to stab, burn, punch or throttle you, and working at some menial task or another. Mine was folding other men’s underpants.

    Yeah, I can hardly wait to get back.

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  38. alex Masterley (1,495 comments) says:

    Well said Rex.

    Most people who comment on how well off prisoners are have never set foot in a jail. If they did visit they would be terrified.

    In my early days as a lawyer I regularly visited clients in the remand centre in the old Mt Eden prison. It was a depressing just to walk through the gates . Calling it dirty dark and depressing was an understatement. In my idealistic early years i occaisionaly visited “Pare” as part of the visiting lawyer scheme which is and remains a scary place for a little white boy like me.

    Clients of mine work in one of the regional facilities and they say that while it is new, it is unmistakeably a prison with rubbish food and neighbours from hell.

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  39. lofty (1,304 comments) says:

    Well said Rex, but it is not that hardship that puts me off wanting to go to prison, it is the thought of sharing a cell with Bubba and his mates.
    Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

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  40. backster (2,109 comments) says:

    WRECK……..I think you would find that if 3 strikes had been in then neither Tamahere or Watson would have been in a position to kill their victims.
    DAVID GARRETT……..It seems to me that Juries these days often bring in flawed decisions due to evidence which is relevant being witheld from them by the Judge and evidence which should be witheld being admitted. The Bain retrial and the /’Uncle George case being particulary stark examples.

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  41. F E Smith (3,314 comments) says:

    Backster: I am not sure that Watson would have been subject to the three strikes sentencing approach. From memory (and I could be wrong), Watson’s list isn’t overly serious. With regards the ‘Uncle George’ case, the circumstance are the exact opposite of your point- the judge allowed in evidence that the Supreme Court said he shouldn’t have allowed in.

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  42. Sarkozygroupie (197 comments) says:

    Another reason for flawed decisions…

    I was a juror on a rape case. The judge asked those potential jurors who felt they had a conflict of interest to step aside, I subsequently found one of my fellow jurors had not done so. This juror acquitted the defendant. He was quite strongly influenced by the fact that his mate who had been accused of rape some years before, had to go through an arduous legal process, but was eventually found not guilty. He was quite sure the law was weighted against men finding themselves as defendants in this circumstance and he said he felt like he had avenged his friend, as a juror.

    He made the most appalling comments about the weight and looks of the complainant at the time of the incident, then commenting on how she was quite ‘hot’ now. He was supported by one other male in the room. The rest of us were very uncomfortable (men and women), but the head juror (a woman) refrained from bringing the matter to the attention of the Court.

    It wasn’t until after the case concluded that he admitted he had a conflict of interst regarding his friend, and was quite proud of the fact. In my opinion there needs to be a higher test employed to weed out potential conflicts.

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  43. F E Smith (3,314 comments) says:

    Sarkozygroupie: one juror cannot acquit a defendant. It takes 12 (generally, sometimes 11) to acquit a defendant. At worst, the juror you describe could only, at worst, hung a jury (under the old rules). If he convinced all 12 of you to acquit, well, that is all a valid part of the jury process.

    Moreover, he had no conflict if interest unless he knew or had some connection to the case you were hearing a jurors. What you describe is instead a strongly opinionated and potentially closed minded person. Those sorts of people are just a fact of life. But I am interested what solution you propose? It would seem you might prefer to abolish juries completely?

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  44. Brian Harmer (686 comments) says:

    Now can someone please explain this decision to me? http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/4905288/Cop-stabber-John-Gillies-to-be-paroled

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  45. starboard (2,489 comments) says:

    Its simple Rex. Dont rape , murder , rob and you stay out of prison. Murder someone you forfeit your life.

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

    Right starboard. Brilliant rebuttal to the bit where I said “rapists, murderers and robbers shouldn’t go to prison”.

    Except I didn’t.

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

    @Brian Harmer:

    That decisions worries me greatly, though with only a year to go on his full sentence the Board didn’t have much choice. The report says he “shows insight into his offending” which is what you look for before considering an offender for release, but also says:

    It was also concerned that Gillies had been unmotivated to complete drug rehabilitation programmes, and was in one case removed from a programme after he was found possessing a quantity of cannabis.

    To me that shows a complete lack of any insight. While cannabis isn’t necessarily a contributor to violence (indeed it can have a calming effect) I very much doubt that’s his only drug of choice.

    If he hasn’t overcome his addiction to methamphetamines then his risk of reoffending is incredibly high, regardless of whatever other insights he may have achieved.

    My experience working with prisoners makes me think more and more that we should imprison them for a flexible term based on their drug use. So, for instance, for every fortnight in which you return clear urinalysis you earn a week off your sentence. And for every fortnight in which you fail urinalysis, you get a week added on.

    We can equip prisoners with all the cognitive behavioural tools in the world but they count for nothing if their system is full of P the next time the circumstances arise in which they’re likely to offend.

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  48. Graeme Edgeler (3,274 comments) says:

    Now can someone please explain this decision to me?

    Yes. The offender got seven years. He’s done six. Research shows that the community is safer if an offender is released on parole, with conditions, and a parole officer, and the threat that if the person doesn’t behave themselves, they can be recalled to prison or charged with breach of parole, than if they are just released when they’ve done all their time.

    Do you want their next crime to be on your head? If we wait a year, and then release this guy, it is more likely that he will commit further serious offences.

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  49. starboard (2,489 comments) says:

    Rex..in starboards prison there will be no individual cells…just one big room where all the scum sleep on the floor. One sack per shitbag. In the corner there is a hole to shit and piss..no privacy. A garden hose to shower with. No supplied food Rex…you grow your own vegetables , wheat , livestock . Visitors only on Christmas day. All guards supplied with shotguns.
    Utopia.

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  50. Brian Harmer (686 comments) says:

    @Graeme … you may be right, but I am always worried by claims that begin “research shows …” As one who is obliged to publish research myself, I am painfully aware of the strong probability that, for every research finding, there is an equal and opposite finding somewhere.

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  51. Graeme Edgeler (3,274 comments) says:

    @Brian – would you accept “common sense suggests…”? Because surely it does.

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  52. Diziet Sma (109 comments) says:

    kill it – move on

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  53. dime (9,611 comments) says:

    to those that think prison is easy and they have it sweet – youre listening to too much talk back.

    i spent 11 years visiting my buddy. from mt eden (just horrible) to maxi, to medium to minimum security. none of it is fun.

    maybe he was in the wrong place, but he never had access to sky tv, play stations, decent food.

    he attemoted to do some 6th form papers but the prison had no one that could mark them or submit them for marking.

    he did learn some skills, wood working, gardening etc. but real education with qualifications was hard to come by.

    dont get me wrong, hes a convicted murderer and should have been in 30 years. BUT we should be trying to do more with these guys.

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  54. starboard (2,489 comments) says:

    “dont get me wrong, hes a convicted murderer and should have been in 30 years. BUT we should be trying to do more with these guys”

    how about we start with a bullet in the head? He’s a fuckin murderer !! What should we do..give him a hug?

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  55. David Garrett (6,668 comments) says:

    FE Smith: Quite right…I should have said that the two dickheads can cause a hung jury rather than an acquittal..one of the good things about Kiwiblog: if you are intellectually loose, someone [quite rightly] picks you up for it…

    On a different tack…I notice no lefty apologists for violent crims on this thread…could this possibly mean we “rednecks” have it right on this one??

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  56. dime (9,611 comments) says:

    starboard – didnt really want to see my best friend executed. sue me.

    besides, all of my friends get one :P

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

    starboard:

    you grow your own vegetables, wheat, livestock.

    At last, a prison policy on which we can agree! Prisons should be self-sufficient, which would mean prisoners would get decent food and not the stomach turning slop they get now.

    All guards supplied with shotguns.

    Have you thought of asking the people you’re so keen to arm? There’s a reason prison guards are unarmed, starboard – so their guns don’t get taken off them and used against them. In Australia, the perimeter guards in the towers of maximum security prisons are armed with rifles, so it’s not that they’re too namby-pamby to shoot, but there’s no way the guards want to be targets for any con looking for a weapon to use on them, or another prisoner.

    So I take it from your description of prison that the only people sent to one would be violent offenders? Or do you propose hurling into your pit the many young, elderly and mentally unwell prisoners currently unnecessarily incarcerated for non-violent offences. And of course no one on remand – who’s innocent in the eyes of the law and quite often in fact – would merit such treatment.

    So if what you’re proposing is that we keep prison solely for the worst of the worst and then make them very unpleasant places indeed, we might be able to agree even further!

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  58. RRM (9,606 comments) says:

    On a different tack…I notice no lefty apologists for violent crims on this thread…could this possibly mean we “rednecks” have it right on this one??

    You’re better than that, don’t be a fuckwit.

    It is pathetic the way the right continuously smears (a) opposition to the death penalty and (b) anyone asking whether what we are currently doing is producing the right outcomes, as being “the left wants to be soft on criminals”. It also accomplishes nothing.

    All these smears prove is that fuckwits don’t understand (a) and can’t be bothered researching (b).

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  59. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    So I take it from your description of prison that the only people sent to one would be violent offenders? Or do you propose hurling into your pit the many young, elderly and mentally unwell prisoners currently unnecessarily incarcerated for non-violent offences. And of course no one on remand – who’s innocent in the eyes of the law and quite often in fact – would merit such treatment.

    Rex, why are you talking about prison as if there can only be one type? They would be in minimum or medium security.

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  60. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    A nasty evil individual who deserves 20 years ,remember he also got preventive detention so there is a chance that he will never be released.

    But calling for the death penalty is something totally different.
    Firstly, most here will have not even killed a pig or any large animal so they will be relying on someone else to do the business. Talk is very cheap when it comes to hurting a human being. Most people can’t handle violence.

    Three strikes is probably not even the answer, every statute on our books has a substantive sentence, burglary actually has a max. of 10 years. Rape is 20 years on its own I think, but we get politicians continually thinking they are helping society by adding things like home invasion and this sort of shit and make out they are making a difference.

    Every offence in the Crimes Act carries a sentence that would satisfy any here but no one is ever given close to a maximum and the public dont really know whats is available to a sentencing Judge

    The trick is is to have the sentences available used properly. Chaston’s sentence for the 1989 rape was outrageous and shows a weak Judicary. ( 3 hour knife point rape, his justification was that his victim was only 24 and would get over it.

    But putting the hammer down is not needed – build more jails and forget about them, that way there’s punishment and humanity

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  61. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    grumpy>It’s entirely consistent to support Capital Punishment and not Abortion on demand

    Not if your basis for claiming the moral high ground is the Bible. (Unless you cherry-pick verses when it suits, and claim every line is the Word of God when it doesn’t.) (and I’ve no idea if that’s your personal basis: the point is a general one).

    However, that’s off-topic.

    Way too many miscarriages of justice occur: Aaron Farmer being a recent example talked about here. I know that wasn’t murder. But it took long enough to get his conviction overturned – and it’s a bit late to do that when someone’s been executed.

    The idea that sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes is isn’t and we should only kill the obvious offenders is a wonderfully black/white view.

    The US system of people languishing on Death Row for years, while the legal system tries to work out if they are guilty or not, is downright cruel.

    The death penalty is revenge, not justice. Two wrongs never make a right.

    I couldn’t, on a jury, send a man/woman to their cold-blooded execution even if they were clearly guilty as hell (and guilt isn’t always THAT clear). If I was prepared to do that, to my mind it would make me little better than a murderer myself.

    Could those calling for the noose/injection/bullet for people, however vile, who’ve done them no personal harm actually pull the trigger themselves? Are you capable of killing someone?

    It’s certainly no deterrent. Even Albert Pierrepoint agreed that.

    Anyone who thinks prisons are soft REALLY should try visiting one.
    It’s not the facilities, it’s who you have to share them with.

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

    Put it away :

    Rex, why are you talking about prison as if there can only be one type? They would be in minimum or medium security.

    Given I visit prisons of all those classifications regularly I’m aware there are… I’m just wondering whether starboard is, and whether he makes allowance for that in his “utopian” vision of prisons which sound like a mix of Bedlam and the Black Hole of Calcutta.

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  63. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    I can’t speak for starboard, but given the topic and the fact that we’ve been talking about rapists, murderers and general unreformable lifelong serial scumbags, I’d assume that that’s the type he had in mind for his prison. We haven’t been talking about unpaid parking fines.

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  64. David Garrett (6,668 comments) says:

    PauleastBy: clearly you are not the person whose name you incorporate into your “nick” here…That person has a law degree so by definition has an IQ over 100..

    The whole point of 3S is that Judges DONT USE the sentences available to them…

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  65. David Garrett (6,668 comments) says:

    Mary Rose: Just in the interests of getting things right…Pierrepoint said cp wasnt a deterrent in his autobiography published in 1980 (??) when the profile of murderers was very different from what it is today – both in the UK and here…shortly before he died, he said he had changed his mind…

    And in saying this, I dont resile from the fact that I have changed my mind on the efficacy of cp …

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  66. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    We dont need three strikes and never have. If the Judicary had used the sentences available to them as per statute none of this would be necessary.

    Parliament bestowed 20 years for rape on the Courts and 10 years for burglary. If maximums or close were used there is no need for further intervention. What I particualry do not like about 3S is the direct dictating of sentencing to Judges.

    We have seen knee jerk reaction with Power taking Provacation away as a defence because of a loathsome toad like Wetherston , we are having our Courts taken over and being used as a popularity contest. Our judicial system is not perfect but its not bad.

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  67. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    PS David

    My IQ’s fine – managed to last nearly 51 years without amassing any convictions in the New Zealand or overseas Courts.

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  68. weizguy (120 comments) says:

    Oh please DPF… We don’t NEED three strikes. It’s pure populism.

    To confirm this, all we need is to get David Garrett to explain exactly how the select committee came to construct NZ’s three strike law. If we’d gone with David’s original construction (the one that ACT used to calculate 75 less murders and continued to use – at best misleadingly – after the criteria had been changed significantly) we would be on track to tripling the prison population over a relatively short period. That’s without any other changes to justice sector policy (an additional 14,000 prisoners at any one time). Based on today’s prison estate, that’s 40 new prisons, £7,000,000,000 in capital costs, £1,344,000,000 in operating costs each year. Let’s also not forget that the select committee chose to stop the Ministry of Justice from providing advice to the select committee, because MoJ was always going to provide advice that the evidence doesn’t support three strikes.

    In any criminal justice system, unless you’ve gone ultra-draconian, there will be situations where people commit horrific offences, and that if a different sentencing or parole decision had been made, a life would have been saved. I just have more faith in Judges and the Parole Board (who deal with this all the time) to make these decisions.

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  69. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    Uhhh weizguy, we stopped using pounds for currency in 1967. And I’ll also ask the same thing I always ask when the “cost of prison” argument is trotted out – what is the cost of the crimes those offenders would have been commiting if they were on the loose? Have you subtracted all the welfare benefits they would have been receiving if they had been on the loose?

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  70. weizguy (120 comments) says:

    Sorry – stupid excel. That should be $NZD.

    “what is the cost of the crimes those offenders would have been commiting if they were on the loose?”
    I’m fairly confident it would be less. Care to suggest a situation where it would be more?
    “Have you subtracted all the welfare benefits they would have been receiving if they had been on the loose?”
    Even if you assume they would all be on the dole, what’s the benefit these days? I’m pretty sure it isn’t $96,000 per year.

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  71. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    weizguy did I say it would be more? Can you please not make things up as if I said them. I just wonder why whenever the crimcuddlers tell us how much it costs the taxpayer to keep scum in prison, they never subtract how much the taxpayer saves. Is there an honest reason for leaving that out of the calculations? It would make the figure substantially less. For example what was the cost to the taxpayer of Chaston’s crimes? What does the cost of the police investigation, high court trial, support for the victim’s family ( assuming they got any), the inevitable legal aid etc, all add up to? What is the loss to the tax base from what the victim would be contributing if she hadn’t been murdered? Add all those up, and they’d take a mighty whack off the cost of just keeping the guy where he belongs.

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  72. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    I’m curious, has anyone ever researched the cost of *NOT* keeping crims in jail? You could pick a random sample of cases where the crim was let out early, and estimate the cost to the taxpayer of what they did during the period between their release and their full sentence. If they got a job, great, add the tax they paid as a plus. If they went on a benefit, count the amount as a minus. If they did further crimes, add up all the costs ( police, courts, legal aid, victims etc) and count as a minus. Give us the average annual cost to the taxpayer of having a serious crim *NOT* in jail, so we can talk sensibly about the cost of keeping them in.

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  73. weizguy (120 comments) says:

    “crimcuddlers”

    Drop the ad homs, will you? Can you point out where I said that this guy shouldn’t be in jail? Disagreeing with the mechanism for sentencing doesn’t make me want to set everyone free. I’m simply telling you the cost of what it would have cost to introduce the three strikes law that ACT proposed and campaigned on.

    “Is there an honest reason for leaving that out of the calculations?”
    Yes. It’s extremely complicated. I’m sure MoJ could have been asked to do so by the select committee, had they not been “excused”. My calculations were very much back of an envelope. I also didn’t include the costs of borrowing to pay for prisons.

    I suspect the reason the select committe chose to tinker with the criteria is that they didn’t think that level of expenditure was justified. I’ll grant you that the cost of incarceration would be offset in some part by the savings to the community in cost of further crime. I suspect it’s unlikely that we’re talking a zero sum game.

    Again. Criminal justice policy isn’t black and white. If it was easy, we wouldn’t be debating it. It’s the attempt to simplify that debases the debate. Which is why the SST is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

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  74. weizguy (120 comments) says:

    “I’m curious, has anyone ever researched the cost of *NOT* keeping crims in jail?”
    Sounds like a really interesting piece of work. Who are you proposing undertakes the work? (One thought, can we not limit this to tax – there are a wide range of things that benefit society at least as much as paying tax – how would you calculate child raising? Do you include working for families?)

    “You could pick a random sample of cases where the crim was let out early, and estimate the cost to the taxpayer of what they did during the period between their release and their full sentence.”
    I assume by “let out early”, you mean let out before full term. I can advise that prisoners released on parole are likely to have better outcomes than those released at the end of their sentence.

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  75. reid (16,074 comments) says:

    What we need to do is not incentivise or disincentivise the criminals. We need to do that, to the incarcerators.

    You can’t do it in public prisons but what if you had a prison where there were not only massive incentives for reducing recidivism but also massive disincentives for anyone who did it?

    You can’t tell me that we collectively in the world know precisely how to nail this problem. I don’t care about lefty poverty vs crime arguments, cause once you get to prison, it’s a different issue, so I’m not talking about tackling poverty. But I’m saying, look at tackling crime the same way lefties would have us attack poverty or so they proclaim, were they to have constant power for the next thousand years.

    I know with them it would be a disaster, I’m saying, let’s look at an overall solution applied to all people in prison for say the next fifty years. Now what say you did what PIA suggests and offered a company the total cost you have calculated, of having any given class of criminal re-offend. Add up the total cost of Arsonists, Burglars, Rapists, all of that. I know you can’t put a $ cost on say a rape or a murder, but actuaries do it all the time, for insurance, so you can do it, actually.

    Classify them. Say, this guy’s a drug dealer/burglar. Age 28 when he gets out. Could become a rapist. Total potential cost = $x.

    So offer said company a certain [has to be really generous to work] % of x if he doesn’t re-offend. Payable say a year after release. Say he does re-offend, you pay us [has to be really massive] a penalty % of y.

    You could play with those proportions but the more you make them attractive the better it would work and the more you water them down and make them more or less equal, the less it wouldn’t work.

    But key is, you can’t do that in the public sector, because the incentive/disincentive has to be personal (and when you’re a corporate exec, it is personal but when you’re a public employee, it isn’t) so what other tool do you have, in the public sector, other than good intentions and hope for the best?

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  76. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    “Yes. It’s extremely complicated”

    But is that a justification for never mentioning it? Countless times I’ve heard the soft-on-crime types ( left wingers suddenly discovering a concern for spending the taxpayer’s money…) trying to frighten people with estimates of the cost of keeping crims inside, and never ONCE have I heard them say anything like “but of course this would be offset to some degree by some savings”. Not once.

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  77. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    Absolutely reid. Performance bonuses for the companies if the crims keep their nose clean on release.

    weizguy – “Sounds like a really interesting piece of work. Who are you proposing undertakes the work? ”

    I would assume some stats gnome in a government dept would be able to pull most of the information from government databases ( crimes, welfare, IRD), just a data matching exercise really.

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  78. weizguy (120 comments) says:

    “just a data matching exercise really”
    I can assure you it’s not. But I agree that it’s a valid piece of work.

    “Countless times I’ve heard the soft-on-crime types ( left wingers suddenly discovering a concern for spending the taxpayer’s money…)”
    Again with the ad-homs (and the stereotypes). I didn’t “suddenly” discover a concern for spending taxpayer money. You know nothing about me. I simply told you what the select committee was presented with, and explained that the proposal was significantly altered so that it wouldn’t cost that much. I didn’t make the decision, or try to scare you, I just provided you with facts that (I assume) you didn’t have before.

    reid

    100% with you. I think it would be a great idea to incentivise private prisons to reduce reoffending as part of their contract. I worry that any attempts that are currently being made in NZ will be too toothless. I also worry about the potential to send the worst prisoners to state run prisons, while claiming the best for themselves. I’d also want to push it out to at least two years, perhaps with instalments to be paid out over a period of 5 years.

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  79. reid (16,074 comments) says:

    The new commercial prison Collins opened is being incentivised for reducing recidivism but I don’t know how it’s calculated and I doubt specifically, but even if it was being calculated specifically then IMO, that’s not enough.

    People run away from pain a lot more vigorously than they amble toward pleasure. They just do. Corporations are the same. Look at how much they spend on risk management which hardly ever happens, for only one small example.

    I think the key to doing this successfully is to make success massive but most importantly make failure utterly calamitous, not in the sense of one failure breaking the company, but of perhaps say, wiping 10% off that year’s profit margin.

    That’s what hasn’t been tried.

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  80. reid (16,074 comments) says:

    “…wiping 10% off that year’s profit margin for that prison” is what I meant to say, sorry.

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  81. slijmbal (1,223 comments) says:

    Sorry this is long but hopefully relevant

    Was dragged up in poor neighbourhood of Liverpool many years ago. It had all the factors euphemistically called negative outcomes; high crime, unemployment, underage pregnancies etc The stereotypes about thieving scousers are based on fact; crime was pretty endemic. Frankly, a fair proportion of my acquaintances were scumbags; likeable scumbags with a bit of charm but thieving, nasty, selfish little s**ts who couldn’t be trusted. A very high proportion of the scumbags ended up with criminal records. In contrast a lot were great, fair, honest etc. Typically, the scumbags came from scumbag families and the great ones from good families. Mum and dad spent a lot of effort to make sure we didn’t play with the wrong kids. Typically, these kids did have it hard. Mum and/or dad gambled/drank away the wages, they often had dirty clothes, smelled vaguely of piss, no lunch money, had the occasional boot mark on their body from dad (or mum) etc – we’ve heard the stories. Many were true from what I saw.

    However, by the time they hit about 14 they generally went from wrong to bad. They got in to more and more and worse crime. They also did not give a damn about anyone else. If they were caught they knew how to game the system, pretend to be remorseful etc. They also thought social workers, lawyers and judges were complete and utter fools who were easy to mislead. The police they were wary of as Liverpool police tended to apply some rough justice when they thought the system wasn’t working. You got cheeky with a copper from Huyton (Harold Wilson’s seat) at your own risk for instance. Anyway, I digress, they spent most of their time working through the progression of punishments in a pretty organised fashion. The system was well understood and they knew exactly what would happen and what they could get away with. They were also masters at (ab)using the welfare system. Many took prison as a badge of honour when it finally hit them.

    I left Liverpool and only saw some of these guys on occasional visits home and frankly I learnt to avoid them in my teens anyway. A lot of what I heard about some of these guys came from old school mates and is anecdotal but …. Most were still crims and didn’t give a s**t. A fair number gave up crime if they met the right woman but more often than not this was temporary and they left behind a single parent family through leaving them or by spending half their time in prison. Once these guys hit their late 30s and 40s quite a few got tired of prison and gave up crime but even then many had the odd lapse. Some had been found to have mental problems and would be surprisingly model citizens on their medication but of course too often wouldn’t stay on the meds. It seemed likely many had their medical problems as a result of drugs but not sure it matters. Quite a few were, at best, dypsomaniacs and often particularly evil drunks too and knew what they were like when they were drunk. You were very polite around them after a few drinks.

    Things that I remember about Liverpool. My dad got robbed when he got run over by taxi (ironic as he later became a taxi driver), he got mugged walking home from the pub – only 300 yards but they obviously lay in wait for him, women were never left to walk alone at night, our house was so much a fortress that we couldn’t get in if we were accidentally locked out (we still got robbed), being threatened by a 6 year old with a knife to buy him fags (I was 5 – he had an evil b*****d father and ended up in prison), I watched a guy getting bottled outside a chip shop as he talked to the wrong girl in a pub…. the list is very long

    One other thing struck me though. These guys knew exactly what they were doing, knew it was wrong, did not care about anyone else and had no empathy whatever. They often thought it was funny, the nasty consequences to others. Prison might not be a major deterrent and blame their families or genetics or social circumstances but I don’t really care about that. Locking them up at least reduced their crime. From what I could see the chances of reforming most of these were slim to none. They’re a bit like addicts. They have to want to change and even then it takes, on average, five attempts before that sticks for most addicts. They did not want to change. So, if a proper progressive incarceration system locks these guys up longer and longer and that then reduces crime great. The cost is worth it. I have some sympathy for how they got there but am not stupid enough to let that get it in the way of pragmatism. This theory that we can somehow fix some criminals looks like wishful thinking from what I’ve seen. This is not about deterrence it is about protecting the rest of us.

    That’s what the 3 strikes law poorly attempts to do and so I support it.

    It’s worth noting that I saw plenty of young idiots also get caught doing crime (I used to shoplift myself as my own young idiot as everybody did and we thought it was a great laugh – I didn’t get caught – lucky). Quite a few got caught and some prosecuted but they had one thing in common, they didn’t embark on an entire career in crime. So before we mix up the true scumbags and the misguided, drunk, stupid etc I am talking about the evil ones. They are quite easily discernible by the sheer volume and type of their crimes.

    For those who blame their drink or drug problems as the cause – I don’t think so. Most addicts do not commit violent or personal offense crimes, many commit crimes of theft or fraud. There is an underlying problem with these people that the drugs or drink excacerbates. In the case of P, it is well known that one possible side effect is paranoia but the people taking the drugs know that and choose to take them. This is a consequence of a deliberate decision but even then being paranoid does not mean you have to commit crime. It only makes you more likely to commit crime. If we are to believe the volumes of P consumed in NZ and if P was such a direct driver for violence then we should expect much more violent crime with a linear correlation to the amount of P consumed. That does not match any crime stats I remember. I think cause and effect are being switched here. I personally believe that their drug or drink problems are as a consequence of who they are and not the cause of who they are. It makes who they are worse but it is still who they are. I also don’t care if they have a drink or drug problem (I do but not that much) I really care about the consequences because I care more about their behaviour and likely victims than their problems being blunt. It also appears unlikely that fixing them of their addictions will stick or fix their behaviour if it did stick. It might lessen the amount of crime they commit but does not really address the underlying problem. So I am happy to lock them up to protect the rest of us. Once again I am referring to the inveterate criminals not the occasional. We should try and help them get off their addiction but need to be realistic about the poor success rate of such attempts.

    For those who say prison is not a deterrent. Prison is a poor deterrent for some people. It works really well for a lot of people and eventually works for some of the worst and for those for whom it does not work just get them off the streets.

    time for bed ……

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  82. weizguy (120 comments) says:

    I think it’s very important to make the distinction. Three strikes is not bad because it incarcerates people. It is bad because it took sentencing decisions away from professionals and put them in the hands of politicians. Why is the argument not the same for doctors, or air traffic controllers, or engineers?

    Why is it that ACT, the “classic liberal” party, who is so upset about government interference, suddenly decides that Government knows best when it comes to individual sentencing decisions?

    In some cases, three strikes would prevent horrific crimes, but it does this by significantly over-identifying future offenders.

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  83. slijmbal (1,223 comments) says:

    @ weiz

    Agreed – 3 strikes is a poor mechanism but I would rather have it than not have it. It seems such blunt mechanisms appear to be the only way get past the current judicial system which won’t protect the rest of us and let’s be honest they could – they don’t believe they should for reasons I do not understand.

    Do I believe it will over identify future offenders? Time will tell. I doubt it – the bar has been set quite high. I think that’s overstated by those who are against the bill. If it does – we can fix it as it will be obvious it does.

    I don’t have the same respect for professionals (I am one myself, I think) you imply we should have. Up until relatively recently many doctors did not behave like they were providing a service for instance. I also watch how professionals get sucked in to their own little world of specialised mindests and rules and end up making ultimately totally stupid decisions because they fit their world model at a micro level.

    I have met a few judges and only ever felt one of them was not a complete and utter tosser with no real connection to the real world. Sad, as they have sufficient power to help fix some of these problems.

    Many lawyers aren’t a lot better – they have an extremely formalised and abstract view of the legal world based on dealing with the huge numbers of “rules” and principles that makes up the law. They are very committed and often very capable but at what they do but that does not necessarily translate in to better outcomes for society.

    playing the man there weiz I see – “ACT” – not that I am an ACT voter. Motivations are irrelevant if we are talking about outcomes

    definitely night now

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  84. James (1,338 comments) says:

    Why is it that ACT, the “classic liberal” party, who is so upset about government interference, suddenly decides that Government knows best when it comes to individual sentencing decisions?

    Because that’s the states legitimate role to carry out as a classic liberal party like ACT would see it.The state exists to protect individual rights…and to do nothing else.Liberty is no license… those who violate the rights of others should be,and deserve to be punished firmly for doing so.

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  85. David Garrett (6,668 comments) says:

    slijmbal; [God knows why you choose a nick like that!] I read your story with great interest…I dont know what you do for a living, but that is as good an analysis as I have seen of how crime is allowed to flourish. My own “backstory” is a wee bit like yours, although by and large the “Stout Street Block” I grew up in was far less violent. But the principle was the same: everyone knew who the ratbag families were, and theirs produced the kids who ended up in jail.. The Maori family next to us [ their Dad was a grader driver for the MOW] produced a school teacher and a nurse. To the best of my knowledge, no-one ended up in a gang although its over 40 years since I lived there.

    Only thing I would argue with you is the claim that 3S is a”blunt mechanism”. People still do not seem to realise – the lefties deliberately of course – that to get the maximum sentence (being not the 25 years to life that we proposed, but the maximum prescribed by the Crimes Act for the offence in question) an offender must FIRST have committed not one but TWO serious violent offences; been warned formally by two Judges of the consequences of continued offending; because of the nature of the offences served at least one, but almost certainly two prison sentences, the second of them lengthy; and only after all that, come before Judge a third time to receive a mandatory sentence.

    When I still had a reputation to stake, I would have staken(?) it on there being NOONE locked up on third strike who had not, in the opinion of anyone other than the Green caucus and half of Labour’s, been just the sort of person all sensible people wish to be locked away for a long time. By the time of the next election after this, there will almost certainly be some third strikers inside. I dont think 3S will be seen as “a blunt instrument” then, and I wager the critics will have become strangely muted.

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  86. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    “Why is the argument not the same for doctors, or air traffic controllers, or engineers? ”

    Well, if doctors stop prescribing vital surgery because they’re squeamish, we’ll have a look at them too. If engineers stop requiring reinforced concrete because they feel sorry for the rebar, we’ll step in. If air traffic controllers think planes should be free to fly where they like, we’ll have a word.

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  87. David Garrett (6,668 comments) says:

    Put it away: F…ing brilliant!

    can I add: “or lawyers who will just accept verbal assurances that the vendors will move out of your new house after they get the purchase money?”

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  88. slijmbal (1,223 comments) says:

    another long one

    @David – slijmbal is old lady cat’s name of ours – still my favourite pet – long gone. Slimey for short – said with affection. Not a lawyer, judge or social worker obviously. I will leave you to guess for now :)

    I think 3S is blunt because it will miss so many that it is blindingly obvious should be locked up for longer periods to protect us. They’re easy to spot but hard to make specific laws for to circumvent the current workings of the judicial system. There are obvious examples – anyone with over 50 offences for instance is exceedingly likely to be worth taking off the streets for an extended period.

    Let’s take a local example. There is an extended crime family on the North Shore who are renowned for their immense contribution to the local crime figures. It includes 3-4 generations of criminals. My wife was robbed by two of the younger girls, aged 13 and 14. Cleverly done it was too. The process was an entire farce. I caught the grandmother using my wife’s stolen credit card to purchase cinema tickets for about 10 kids on the card. Everyone denied any knowledge as the tickets obviously were magically purchased by the Hoyts fairy and one 14 year old took the rap alone despite the grandmother being complicit. They make sure that the child does the actual purchase. She was of course under age and was in practical terms impossible to touch. She also got to play the Maori card. From memory she had over 80 offenses already. We had one of those laughable victim sessions where she would only accept responsibility for any offenses she had been already convicted of in the youth court despite the camera pictures of her using the card and that she had been identified by my wife. I guess she had been coached by the family or lawyers to not admit culpability. Bear in mind that being convicted by the Youth court is not even vaguely the same as being really convicted but strings out the process and the cost. The police were hamstrung and were trying desperately to get the child away from the family and, of course, failed. At the session we had a social worker, Maori something or other social officer, Police youth worker, Police Maori something or other officer, lawyer for the child, grandmother who I caught offending, aunt and mother who both had 100 + offenses each (we were told by 1 police officer) and the baptist minister white sheep of the family petitioning for custody of the child. The child turned up half an late and kept us all waiting. End result of this session nothing. She had to go occasionally to the local Marae, got community service and was not allowed to associate with certain family members and acquaintances. She got to stay in the crime training school that was her family after being taught that crime has minimal consequences. They know how to play the system and use every tool at their disposal. The police were apologetic but were prevented by the system from doing much else. They, after some probing, indicated that it was harder to take Maori kids from family custody than non Maori. This is not a Maori bash before I am accused of racism. But highlights the mock Maori abuse of the system that occurs. Another weapon in their armoury.

    We met a further, maybe, 30 odd victims of that family at a court case where the police arranged for as many of their victims to attend as possible. The court was that full that they had to change the date and the venue as the extended family could not fit in as well. They were all late of course. I was impressed by this as it sent a message to the judge and surprisingly the various aunts and female cousins of the girl received sentences that kept them off the street for a while. The majority were pregnant. This leads to earlier releases and easier treatement in prison, of course. The police indicated they believed it was common to get pregnant for precisely such reasons. They all got to play the mothers away from their children card as well. I specifically asked and all lived off the largesse of the welfare state as far we could tell. The extended family wore quite a lot of what looked like real gold based bling.

    The police told us they felt they had to resort to such activities to influence the sentencing. Why? Why on earth did they have to go such lengths to protect us from obvious predators. The system is clearly broken in this respect is why.

    In a brief couple of hours I heard about ten stories from other victims with the common theme of what I can only call evilness. One little old dear (apologies to all little old dears – she had been fleeced to the tune of $3-4,000 on her stolen credit card) who we met started out at the original session sympathetic for the child’s plight and blamed the family, correctly, but did not believe the child should be taken away from her family. It was interesting to watch her views slowly change over the process and at the end of all this she realised the only hope was to take the child away from the family and that the entire family needed to be locked up pretty much. I, of course, was much more sanguine from the very start having seen similar cases before. I think this lady represents the lack of understanding many in mainstream NZ have about a certain class of criminal. I include my fellow white professionals here. Most have no real exposure to crime and no idea of the attitudes and consequences of some of their fellow citizens.

    An extreme example of course, but it’s the extremes we are talking about here.

    Another reason I say 3S is a blunt instrument is a that runs a slight risk that it catches someone who through some fluke of circumstance really should not be locked up and the key thrown away. This will then be used to attack it.

    I still would like to hear more about the real and potential victims in these discussions rather than the rights of those who, in my perpective, have foresaken many of their rights through their behaviour.

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  89. David Garrett (6,668 comments) says:

    Slimey: What a pity the MSM are not interested in stories like the above, which show what a ridiculous system we have allowed to evolve. I remember an earnest young mate of mine at Uni – private school background, Dad was judge, but a great guy – who went off to a FGG and was astounded to find the “family” were all members of the Mob, and it seemed as if only he could see that the lot of them were laughing at all the others present as they went through the charade of “holding the offender responsible” – pretty difficult when thje kid had almost certainly done the “burg” on Dad’s instructions.

    I agree – and have always acknowledged – that 3S is not some kind of cure all for crime. I frankly dont know what we do about serial burglars who make the lives of their poor (often in the literal sense) victims a misery. But I do agree with those who say prison should be reserved for the seriously violent, and perhaps high end white collar crims who often literally cause the death of their elderly victims when they rip off their life savings.

    I repeat my view that we will never see a third striker who doesnt richly deserve his fate. We may find some whose FIRST strike is at the lower end, but the regime is set up so no-one except those truly vicious offenders will receive the third strike offence penalty. Watch this space…

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  90. nasska (10,841 comments) says:

    slijmbal @ 8.08am

    Thank you for your insightful comments.

    …”Most have no real exposure to crime and no idea of the attitudes and consequences of some of their fellow citizens”….

    Regrettably most Kiwis don’t bother too much about the effects of crime until it happens to them & although it could be argued that the judiciary are completely out of touch with reality they only get away with this because of our apathy.

    Should Rex respond I will be interested to read his take on your revelations.

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  91. slijmbal (1,223 comments) says:

    @David

    having through a student job (interviewing tenants in housing associations – sort of 1/2 way house to council housing) met quite a few elderly people who were victims of non violent crime and who then lived in fear and were pretty much prisoners in their own home I have no problems locking up certain non violent offenders. Make them nice prisons but keep them away from the vulnerable in our society – we have a responsibility to the vulnerable to protect them.

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  92. David Garrett (6,668 comments) says:

    Slimey: I agree with that in principle, but there are so many of the bastards…locking them up cant be the only answer…

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  93. Graeme Edgeler (3,274 comments) says:

    @Brian Harmer – further t our discussion about the release of Gillies, I note an article in the DomPost today:

    “I think the board have said we would rather release him early under control and under conditions than wait until the end and let him out with no conditions. I think their judgment is quite sound.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/4907740/Victim-not-upset-by-Gillies-release

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  94. David Garrett (6,668 comments) says:

    Graeme: You cannot but admire Nigel Hendrikkse eh? A remarkable man.

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  95. Graeme Edgeler (3,274 comments) says:

    David: I’d like to think if I was a victim or family member of a victim of violent crime that I would react as well.

    I do wonder what the victims of violent crime (e.g. the families of murder victims) did in the 60s-80s, when a life sentence carried a minimum non-parole period of I think 7 years, and judges couldn’t impose longer non-parole periods. Without “victims rights” (e.g. to appear at parole hearings), did they just move on?

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  96. David Garrett (6,668 comments) says:

    Graeme: I suspect victims nursed grievances for the rest of their days… which is one of the reasons I am so glad victims like Vannessa Pickering’s family are able to say their piece…but I am strongly of the view they should be able to do that without being censured. You and I (and any experienced lawyer) is aware that whatever is said by the victim will have little if any impact on the Judge’s sentence; he or she will have worked out what the sentence is going to be long before it is passed.

    Some (perhaps even most) members of the profession disagree with the idea that the court should become – even in part – some kind of therapeutic forum. My view is so what if it is? It is the victims one and only chance to say what they want to say to the person who has caused them so much pain. If that’s unpleasant for the prisoner, tough. The prisoner is the only person whose actions have brought all the actors in the courtroom together. In that sense, the victims are the only people who are not there because of decisions they have made.

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  97. slijmbal (1,223 comments) says:

    @David – however, there almost certainly would be less of “the b****ds”, as you say, if we locked more of them up but unfortunately a lot of them would still be left as it is only a partial deterrent – if that’s not too Irish. Let’s be frank they could be locked up if we could afford it and the rights of the vulnerable to a safe life were given greater weight.

    If we could find a way to make home detention stick would be as good. By this stage for a group of these specific criminals it is about prevention rather than deterrence/punishment. Might as well beat a man eating shark for eating people as trying to punish/deter many of these. One might feel better doing it but it’s not going to make a difference.

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  98. weizguy (120 comments) says:

    “playing the man there weiz I see – “ACT” – not that I am an ACT voter.”
    Huh? I was talking about what I see as one of many contradictions between ACT’s classic liberal brand and the reality. You do know they campaigned and were the architects of three strikes right? Criticising a political party is hardly “playing the man.”

    “Well, if doctors stop prescribing vital surgery because they’re squeamish, we’ll have a look at them too. If engineers stop requiring reinforced concrete because they feel sorry for the rebar, we’ll step in. If air traffic controllers think planes should be free to fly where they like, we’ll have a word.”
    If you think Judges are this derelict in their duty, and you seriously think you have a better handle on sentencing, you’re beyond reason.

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  99. penllynboy (8 comments) says:

    Hi all. You lot sound well informed and opinionated.I delivered a paper to the Ministry of Justice this week. It can be downloaded here http://www.drugcourts.co.nz If you have the time I’d like some feedback on it. Regards.

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

    It’s sort of self-evident, Gerald, your conclusions.

    But on this site, hanging is the preferred option.

    About 15 years ago, I compiled an essay for a university paper, a writing paper, and chose conjugal visits for prisoners as my subject. I was opposed to the concept. My research changed my mind.

    I actually went looking for peer reviewed studies that showed rehabilitation does not work.

    I found none.

    But I found heaps that showed rehabilitation did work, to various degrees.

    Kiwiblog is not a fact-finding mission.

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  101. reid (16,074 comments) says:

    But hanging data is hundreds of years old Luc, we need fresh data. How can you simply refute it out of hand? Are you a scientist, or are you a mere non-fact-finding monster?

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

    Sorry, reid, what am I refuting?

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