David Garrett on Three Strikes law

July 30th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post by :

Court of Appeal rejects appeal and confirms “second strike” sentence.

When the “” law was making its way through parliament a great deal of misinformation was spread about  by those opposing it. Among the more outrageous claims was that the law would result in the prison population tripling within two years, and  that there would be a sharp rise in attacks on police by “strike” offenders desperate to avoid arrest. Two years on, seven offenders have received their second “strike”.  Far from tripling,  the prison population is falling, and there is no evidence of an increase in attacks on police.

Another claim – that the Judges would oppose the law, and find ways to avoid imposing it – has now also proven to be nonsense. The Court of Appeal has just released its decision on an appeal by Brock Robert Norton, who appealed against his conviction and sentence for a “second “strike”. The appeal was rejected, and Norton’s three year sentence for aggravated robbery was confirmed.

Norton – just like the other six second strikers – is just the kind of thug the “three strikes” law was intended to target. While still on parole from his “first strike” sentence, Norton and an accomplice invaded the victim’s home and cornered him in his bedroom, robbing him of a cellphone. The victim was injured in the fracas.  Norton first “strike” offence was very similar to his second – robbery and demanding with menaces.

These two are clearly not his only convictions. In rejecting his appeal, a three Judge bench of the Court of Appeal noted that  with his record, and the seriousness of the offending, a further prison term was inevitable despite his lawyer’s plea for a sentence of supervision. So much for “three strikes” targeting poor lads who had stolen chocolate bars from dairies – another piece of misinformation promulgated  at the time by the likes of Kim Workman.

For lawyers – and their violent criminal clients – this decision is very significant. It puts the lie to the claim that “the Judges all hate it”; we now know that at least one District Court Judge is happy to impose a three year sentence on second strike, knowing the offender will serve the whole sentence, and at least three Court of Appeal Judges are quite comfortable with such a sentence.

The real test will of course come at third strike stage – perhaps Mr Norton will be the first to test whether the Court of Appeal is happy with a 14 year sentence for aggravated robbery. That is what awaits Norton if he fails to take the rehabilitative opportunities offered to him in jail – which the Judges strongly recommended he do – and instead re-offends violently on release in three years time.

It will be interesting to hear the bleating of Kim Workman and his ilk when the inevitable happens, and someone goes away for a record holiday courtesy of Her Majesty and “three strikes”. If the first third striker isn’t Mr Norton, it will be a thug just like him.

I regard it as a good thing that Norton will have to serve his three year sentence without parole – especially as he did his second strike on parole. Hopefully the fact that if he offends again, he will get 14 years without parole will act as an disincentive. If it doesn’t, then he’ll not be doing a fourth strike for at least 14 years!

Always happy to run guest posts, including from Mr Workman.

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62 Responses to “David Garrett on Three Strikes law”

  1. scrubone (2,971 comments) says:

    Bit of a silly comment – no one is arguing that the law won’t affect hardened criminals, it’s the people who get a strike on a technicality. Just because the law has caught one very bad egg, doesn’t mean it won’t catch someone less worth of it’s attention.

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  2. Wayne91 (142 comments) says:

    Scrubone – how would you get a strike on a technicality? – and besides that would still mean they have committed at least 2 other very serious offences, Doesn’t mean they are less worthy to me.

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  3. kowtow (6,684 comments) says:

    Once upon a time we could trust judges to send scum away for a long time.

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  4. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Wayne: Yes…I was going to point that out myself, but thought I would leave it to someone else…

    Perhaps the kind of “technicality” the gentleman has in mind is going out burgling having “forgotten” you have a knife on you, thus coverting burglary (not a strike offence) to aggravated burglary, which is. There is of course a very easy antidote to finding yourself in that position…

    But no doubt Graeme E and others will be along shortly to give us any number of ingenious potential “technicalities”…

    Incidentally, at least three of the second strikers committed the same offence to earn their second strike as their first, and committed them while on parole.

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  5. mikenmild (8,715 comments) says:

    David
    Did anyone actually make any of those ‘predictions’ referred to in your post? I had thought the main objection to three strikes was that it would unduly fetter juducual discretion to deal with offenders in the way that best meets the circumstances.

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  6. tvb (3,937 comments) says:

    Three years for an aggravated robbery is not out of line. And parole for repeat offenders is not that easy to get so the sentence stands. The real test for this law is when a maximum sentence gets imposed on a third strike for say for an aggravated robbery where a small amount of property is taken and minimal violence is threatened.

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  7. big bruv (12,317 comments) says:

    DG

    I remember at the time you were debating this bill in the house you used a statistic that resonated with me. You mentioned a figure, a number of Kiwis would would have been alive today if we had had the three strikes law in place years ago. That stayed with me (although I cannot remember the number)

    It shows just how morally bankrupt the left are that they will ignore such a glaring statistic just to push their own fucked up views upon the rest of us.

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  8. Graeme Edgeler (3,215 comments) says:

    Perhaps the kind of “technicality” the gentleman has in mind is going out burgling having “forgotten” you have a knife on you, thus coverting burglary (not a strike offence) to aggravated burglary, which is. There is of course a very easy antidote to finding yourself in that position…

    Not wanting to disappoint, the technicality I usually used was the getaway driver who was convicted as a party to the offending when their mate who’d just done a robbery or ag. burglary happened upon them and said “give us a lift”.

    That or the drunken grope at a party.

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  9. mikenmild (8,715 comments) says:

    bb
    I’m not sure that is actually all that great an argument. I assume that it goes along the lines of ‘if offender X had been serving a full sentence of Y years for a second or third strike offence, he would still have been in jail at the time he was free to murder victim Z’.
    That might make some superficial sense, but if a harsher policy actually leads to more violence, one might be able to argue the reverse. So, more offenders in prison for longer (there is no evidence that longer sentences improve the likelihood of reform) and no parole (no restrictions on behaviour after release/no incentive to earn parole) may not lead to the outcomes sought by the promoters of this law.

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  10. Graeme Edgeler (3,215 comments) says:

    you mentioned a figure, a number of Kiwis would would have been alive today if we had had the three strikes law in place years ago.

    I believe the number was zero.

    There was a higher number for the ACT/SST version of the bill, but we didn’t actually enact that.

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  11. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Mikey: Sigh….Yes, Workman said the prison poplulation would triple in two years if the law was passed; several submitters to the Law and Order Select Committee which dealt with it said “the Judges” would find ways to get around it. Various “pundits” said the same thing.

    The Law Society – presumably thinking they had a mandate from at least a majority of lawyers – made a strident submission against the Bill. It is perfectly legitimate for the Law Society to make submissions on Bills, but such submissions are almost always on technical aspects, pointing out how this or that aspect of a Bill will be problematic in a practical sense.

    On this occasion, almost the entire submission was about how the law was a bad IDEA rather than criticising how it would work in practice.

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  12. Nostalgia-NZ (4,671 comments) says:

    An interesting aspect here is that 3 years is a pretty modest sentence for a second offence of aggravated robbery, which I think carries a maximum of 14 years. This robbery also included a home invasion. Overall, it seems like a very light sentence and it makes me wonder that the 2nd strike aspect, and the inferred deterrent of that, is giving Judges an option to lighten sentences which might otherwise be considerably longer.

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  13. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Graeme: I am not being sarcastic when I ask if you have ever come across a case such as you suggest: the getaway driver who became a party to an agg rob when his mate – who had just done one – asked him for a lift? Has there ever been such a case to your knowledge?

    I remember that fellow Ekins came up with a number of ingenious but highly unlikely scenarios where the law might create injustice – as academics are wont to do. Perhaps PROFESSOR Geddis would like to give us some others….

    Nostalgia: the first offence was not agg rob but demanding with menaces….but I think there may well be something in what you say… but remember a three year “true” sentence is probably equivalent to a six year sentence if three strikes didnt apply…

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  14. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Nostalgia: I ran out of time to respond to your point properly. Grame E will correct me if I am wrong, but a second time Agg robber would probably have got a sentence of about six years for a second offence pre 3S. But the Parole Act – which is overridden in applicable cases by “three strikes” – means he could not be held longer than four years, and would probably be out on parole sooner than that.

    So the sentences in terms of actual time served are pretty much the same with or without three strikes. There are two crucial differences: 1) this guy now knows exactly how long he will serve; and 2) he also knows that if he does it again – and these same three CA Judges decide his inevitable taxpayer funded appeal – next time it will be 14 years.

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  15. Graeme Edgeler (3,215 comments) says:

    On this occasion, almost the entire submission was about how the law was a bad IDEA rather than criticising how it would work in practice.

    That was left up to me :-)
    But then you changed the law so this wasn’t really a problem.

    Nostalgia: the first offence was not agg rob but demanding with menaces

    Demanding with menaces isn’t a three strike offence.

    a second time Agg robber would probably have got a sentence of about six years for a second offence pre 3S. But the Parole Act – which is overridden in applicable cases by “three strikes” – means he could not be held longer than four years, and would probably be out on parole sooner than that.

    You are mistaken. The law as it stood in the past (e.g. the Beast of Blenheim) required release for long-term prisoners before the “end” of their sentence. It no longer does. Offenders can be, and sometimes are, detained right up until the end of their sentences.

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  16. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Graeme: The news report (appeared on the Dom Post but nowhere else) says his first strike offence(s) was “robbery and demanding with menaces”…When the actual judgment is available no doubt it will become clearer. The real point of my post is that this decision at Court of Appeal level gives the lie to the claim that “the Judges will find a way round it.” Clearly at least these three Judges didn’t.

    So what would your average villain have got for a second agg robb pre 3S ? Is Nostalgia making a valid point, i.e that this sentence is lighter than it would have been because the Judge knows he will serve all of it?

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  17. mikenmild (8,715 comments) says:

    David
    Sorry to be a pedant – but I couldn’t find that prediction in Kim Workman’s submission to the Law and Order Committee. It seems such an extravagant claim.

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  18. Graeme Edgeler (3,215 comments) says:

    The real point of my post is that this decision at Court of Appeal level gives the lie to the claim that “the Judges will find a way round it.” Clearly at least these three Judges didn’t.

    I think most of the arguments about how the judges would “get around it” were in respect of the ACT draft that would have involved mandatory lift sentences, with 25 year non-parole periods, for all third strikers.

    ACT’s bill which included smacking as a three strike offence subject to life imprisonment was another reason to consider it might have been a little harsh.

    So what would your average villain have got for a second agg robb pre 3S ? Is Nostalgia making a valid point, i.e that this sentence is lighter than it would have been because the Judge knows he will serve all of it?

    I’d have thought more than three years would be usual, but I believe I know some of the facts of this case, so it seems within the realms of what would be reasonable in the circumstances.

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  19. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Mikey: No, It was not in Workman’s submission; from memory it was one of his press releases…if he ever calls me on it (he hasn’t so far) I will have to go back through old press releases of his to find the exact date the claim was made…I have quoted him on this very blog as having said that, and he has never denied it….perhaps this post will be the time he proves himself definitely to be a person who, to quote the unlamented phool, “makes shit up”…

    Workman was certainly involved in the tour around this country by one Rev. Ron Givens, who told blatant lies about the California version, refused to debate me, and then once he was safely back in California, told National Radio it was I who had avoided HIM !

    Graeme: I cant find the judgment in Norton on the Justice Dept website…but then I am not the greatest online searcher. Is it available do you know?

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  20. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Mikey: Found it – or at least my response to him. The claim was made in a press release Workman put out in February 2009. He also said “three stikes” would cost $7.5 billion over 25 years to implement; a futher $1 billion a year to operate, and see the prison population rise to 22,000.

    I have asked him publicly to tell us when this anticipated rise will begin (prisoner numbers are currently falling) but he doesn’t seem interested in discussing what he said back then. His response is a version of Helen Clark’s famous line that it was “time to move on”.

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  21. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    So you still can’t see the irony David?

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  22. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Since I have never been an aggravated robber, a killer, or a rapist Joana, no…I am assuming you are accusing me of hypocrisy?

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  23. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    The decline in prison numbers and in the crime rate is because of the aging population not because of anything anyone has done.

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  24. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    Perhaps indeed joana. Have the prison numbers and the crime rate dropping steadily as long as the population has been aging? Just seems to me our population has been aging for about 20 years, but our crime rate hasn’t been falling that long.

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  25. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Well at least that’s a better explanation for a falling crime rate than “because we removed lead in fuel about 20 years ago”

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  26. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    David,
    I don’t really accuse you of hypocrisy..more of a lack of personal insight. I know of at least one very high profile Judge who does not agree with you and McVicar. He travels widely overseas including in the US so is probably better informed than either of you.

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  27. Mr_Blobby (91 comments) says:

    Good result. But still a piss poor law. Class A drug offences should be included.

    “The inevitable appeal” Surely there should be a reason for an appeal other than the convicted person is not happy.

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  28. big bruv (12,317 comments) says:

    How little time I have for the middle class wankers who think that giving William Bell a big cuddle might have stopped him butchering those people at the Panmure RSA.

    I would wager that most of them retreat back to their leafy suburbs of an evening and partake in a glass or two of whatever is the latest trendy wine.
    While those of us who grew up among the criminal scum go back to dealing with them on a daily basis.

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  29. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    joana: not sure what you’re getting at there with DG. Is this back to the old saw of bad things he did when he was younger? I find it moderately amusing how those who believe most strongly in rehabilitation are also those who are first to throw DG’s past at him.

    I haven’t yet seen much evidence of bad things that the current 3 strikes law is doing. I have seen some evidence that it does good things. I have a belief it will probably do more good things in future – for a few bad bastards who really cannot get the hang of consequences for actions. On that basis, it seems like reasonable law to me. Is there a reason you seem to oppose it?

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  30. mikenmild (8,715 comments) says:

    David
    I’ve found Mr Workman’s story on this. It doesn’t appear to be quite the same as what you claim:
    http://www.rethinking.org.nz/assets/GeneralPDF/The_Three_Strikes_Sting.pdf

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  31. Nostalgia-NZ (4,671 comments) says:

    We seem to have several conversations going on here at once.

    1:The predictions of what would follow the introduction of 3S.
    2:Whether the crime rate falling is the result of 3S.
    3:Whether the law might be being used in a manner that gives Judges the opportunity to give lighter sentences on the basis of the strike warning.
    4:Chest thumping.

    My Response.
    1:It doesn’t matter because it is now law and time will tell how it works.
    2:Statistics posted on here within the last couple of months show that the crime rate was falling pre-3S.
    3:Highly probable, and probably very logical.
    4:zzzzzzzzzzzz.

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  32. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Mr Blobby: Well, I suggest you get yourself selected for a political party, get elected, then try and persuade the leader of the major party to support an improvement on this “piss poor law”…Best of luck with that…

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  33. wat dabney (3,422 comments) says:

    Class A drug offences should be included.

    I’ve got a better idea: let’s put all the drug warriors in prison.

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  34. Mr_Blobby (91 comments) says:

    Don’t be getting all precious on me David. You know my views and I do understand that compromises had to be made. That doesn’t mean like most thing we should not work to improve it.

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  35. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Mr B: Sorry,…but to have something I worked so hard to get called “a piss poor law” is a little annoying….I have said here in the past I tried to get P manufacture included…I lost that fight…

    There are only a very small number of people who know just how hard it was to get what we got…

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  36. jims_whare (389 comments) says:

    I actually hope that a few third strikers do get hammered on technicalities.

    Then when the judges are sentencing 2nd strikers they should make them stand and listen in the dock and read to them the 3rd strikers that have gone down for full sentences and tell them if you commit any of these crimes after you’ve done this time you will get the maximum sentence next time.

    It MIGHT make a few of them sit up and listen and walk the straight and narrow when they get out.

    They should also broadcast them around prisons so all the crims know what is going to hit them.

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  37. mikenmild (8,715 comments) says:

    Yeah that’ll work. Crooks always pay close attention to warnings from judges, don’t they?

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  38. wat dabney (3,422 comments) says:

    I actually hope that a few third strikers do get hammered on technicalities.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    In Iowa, a man with an old felony conviction found a bullet, put it on his dresser and forgot about it. A police officer, looking for something else, saw the bullet. Felons may not possess any ammunition, and this “crime” made the man a repeat offender. He’s now serving a 15-year mandatory sentence for possession of ammunition.
    http://reason.com/archives/2012/07/25/america-the-law-crazed

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  39. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Mikey: How do you know they wont? We have never before had a law that required Judges to give specified warnings about what WILL – not might – happen to the offender if he returns for sentence on another similar crime.

    Or are you one of the “all crims are too stupid to understand cause and effect” brigade?

    Jims: There is good anecdotal evidence that inmates are already well aware of three strikes….but no-one knows how accurate their knowledge is or how widespread, because no-one has done any formal research.

    BTW expect Workman to arrive here late tommorro, when the thread is pretty much dead and no-one is looking. That is his usual modus operandi. He will deny everything, and give a whole pile of links and references…some of which might actually be on point!

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  40. mikenmild (8,715 comments) says:

    Judges warning criminals is nothing new – you can read warnings in many sentencing notes.
    It’s nothing to do with stupidity – the propensity to commit many crimes is only poorly related to the likelihood of apprehension and severity of the likely sentence.

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  41. weizguy (116 comments) says:

    “Mikey: Sigh….Yes, Workman said the prison poplulation would triple in two years if the law was passed”
    To be fair, I remember something to that effect, though I think there’s some exaggeration about the figures. If I recall correctly, the official predictions for effect on the prison population were that it would double, though over a much longer timeframe. As Graeme has pointed out – those were based on the original ACT bill – the one that would have prevented 72 deaths, not the one you passed, which would have prevented zero.

    Despite the fact you knew that your “72 lives would have been saved” rhetoric was no longer accurate at the time of the passage of the bill, you continued with it. Seems that you fooled at least one poster here.

    Oh, and on Workman – heaven forbid someone bring evidence (links and references) to the discussion – that’s not how we run things at Sensible Sentencing.

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  42. peterwn (2,932 comments) says:

    Technicality – I didn’t mean to shoot Paul Miet the jeweller. The gun just sort of went off. The appeal judges were real mean for not swapping life imprisonment for a wet bus ticket. I just hate cruddy prison food.

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  43. Nostalgia-NZ (4,671 comments) says:

    David Garrett 7.26

    I think there was a law which required warnings, the original preventative detention. I could be wrong, but a burglar for example could get 14 years after a 1st or 2nd warning. Somebody may know about it. Preventative detention in its present form only relates to sex offences I think.

    Regardless of that, apart from what Graeme has said about this particular case, it still looks like this offender has drawn a light sentence on his 2nd strike by the Court’s interpretation of what a ‘strike’ means in terms of the overall sentence. If that’s true it wasn’t an intended purpose presumably.

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  44. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Weizguy: Mr Workman and others like him are only interested in “evidence” which supports their view…and are perfectly happy to “make shit up” – or be complicit in others doing so – as well. Just one example…the Rev Ron Givens, who Workman and the Howard League paraded around the country, said that crime did not in fact fall dramatically in California after their 3S law was passed in 1994… they said it began declining almost a decade earlier, in 1986. You go and look for the figures for yourself..or if you are genuinely interested, contact me on d.garrett@xtra.co.nz and I will send you a publication called “Three Strikes – a primer…”..No, not something produced by some American version of SST, but the California Legislative Support Office, which is completely independent. But I don’t expect to hear from you.

    Nostalgia: Graeme has alluded to “circumstances” of which he is aware regarding Mr Norton but I am not, which may explain what appears to be a lightish sentence. I remain of the view that in actual time to be served, there is not much difference. And in one sense I am quite comfortable with three years: all the sooner for Norton to be released, commit another violent offence, and become the test case for the third strike sentence of 14 years which awaits him.

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  45. duggledog (1,097 comments) says:

    Mikenmild: ‘Yeah that’ll work. Crooks always pay close attention to warnings from judges, don’t they?’

    Two year old kids don’t pay attention to empty threats either.

    Look why do you lefties, without exception, think those naughty lower class poor people are stupid?

    I don’t reckon they are, I think they are street-smart, know how to navigate the systems but can actually learn to be good pretty damn quick, given the right incentives. I mean I can teach a dog not to shit on the floor in no time at all.

    So I’m sort of on their side, but not your side of their side.

    New Zealand isn’t most of Africa. People don’t have to behave like desperadoes here, but they do because for some reason we just seem to tolerate them because they are ‘damaged’.

    Given the choice between 14 years in the nick or just maybe please not doing ANOTHER aggravated robbery, I’d say 95% won’t. If the remaining 5% just can’t get it, well… bye! See you in 14 years! No-one will care except for Mikenmild who will care, but won’t visit

    DG I for one say good on you. It must have been an absolute shit-fight. I’ll buy you a pint one day for your trouble

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  46. peace (26 comments) says:

    Buried alive under California’s law of ‘three strikes and you’re out’

    Protest marks 10 years of rule that means decades in jail for minor theft

    Dan Glaister in Los Angeles

    The Guardian, Monday 8 March 2004 02.00 GMT

    Brian A Smith didn’t know the two women who were shoplifting. They were caught on security cameras stealing sheets at the Los Cerritos mall in Los Angeles and received a two-year sentence.
    But Smith was seen standing near the shoplifters as they committed their crime. Despite having no stolen goods, he was convicted of aiding and abetting them.

    Under California’s three strikes law, which marked its 10th anniversary on Sunday, the 30 year old received a 25-year-to-life sentence.

    Smith’s crime was to have two previous convictions, one 11 years earlier and the second six years before the shoplifting incident. Those convictions, for purse snatching in 1983 and burglary in 1988, earned him the dubious honour of being one of the first criminals to be sentenced under the California law.

    By September last year, California, the US state with the highest prison population, had 7,234 prisoners held under the three strikes rule.

    Sitting in her Los Angeles home, Smith’s aunt, Dorothy Erskine, a retired schoolteacher, recalls the family’s reaction to his sentence. “We were, like, is this really happening? I’m sure he was in shock when he was sentenced and thought he could get it reduced on appeal.

    “But he was advised not to appeal. And we were told that unless you have about $20,000 (£10,800) or $30,000 to pay for the right type of a lawyer, your chances are very, very slim. I did not have $30,000.”

    Three or four years after he went to prison, Smith suffered a stroke. “They didn’t notify anyone in the family that anything had happened to him,” said his aunt, “but when I went to visit him and they rolled him down in a wheelchair I knew that something had happened. He says it was like a wake-up call, and he has turned his life to the Lord.”

    Ms Erskine keeps a picture of her nephew in her living room. Taken with a Polaroid camera in a prison visiting area, it shows a strong-featured young man in jeans and a blue drill shirt standing next to a Christmas tree. His hands behind his back, he smiles tentatively at the camera.

    On Saturday, that picture was one of almost a hundred displayed on mock gravestones at a vigil held at Leipert Park in south Los Angeles for prisoners incarcerated under the three strikes law. Each “gravestone” bears witness to the haphazard sentencing under the legislation.

    With the slogan Buried Alive! above each name and the case history, the gravestones read like a roll call of the disappeared: Richard Morgan, 25 years for shoplifting a baseball glove; Herman Clifford Smith, 25 years for trying to cash a forged cheque for $193; Gilbert Musgrave, 25 years for possession of a stolen video recorder; George Anderson, 25 years for filing a false driving licence application; Johnny Quirino, 25 years for stealing razor blades; Eric Simmons, 25 years for possessing three stolen ceiling fans.

    Under the three strikes law, 25 years means 25 years: prisoners have no chance of parole. The law was voted for in March 1994, under California’s proposition system, in which the electorate votes directly for specific policy initiatives. But unlike the three strikes laws operating in some other states, California’s version does not restrict the initiative to violent crimes.

    Sixty-five per cent of those imprisoned under three strikes in California were convicted of non-violent crimes; 354 of them received 25-years-to-life sentences for petty theft of less than $250.

    Campaigners for an amendment to the legislation point out that offenders sentenced under the law for drug possession outnumber those serving sentences for second-degree murder, rape and assault with a deadly weapon combined.

    They also point to the cost of the sentencing policy, with the imprisonment of non-violent offenders under the three strikes law estimated to cost the state nearly $1bn a year. With California’s budget deficit the subject of intense political activity, they argue that this would be one easy way to save money. The private operators of California’s prisons might have a different view of the possible removal of a steady source of long-term income.

    Yet there is no indication that the law has decreased crime. Counties in the north of the state which have not used the legislation have seen crime drop by 22% more than the southern Californian counties that have rigidly applied the law. Between 1993 and 2002 New York state, roughly comparable with California, but without a three strikes law, saw its crime rate reduced by 27% more than California’s.

    The three strikes policy has also disproportionately affected blacks and Hispanics. The African-American incarceration rate is 12 times higher than that for whites, while the rate for Hispanics is 45% higher.

    Wearing a black T-shirt bearing the slogan “Let the time fit the crime,” Andre Mohamed cries as he talks about his younger brother, Ronnie, 43, nine years into a 37-years-to-life sentence for burglary. “I don’t want nobody to hurt like I hurt,” said the 48 year old, as the park vigil drew to an end.

    “This is something I feel every day. Right now the most important thing that could happen to me wouldn’t be winning the lottery, it would be having Sunday dinner with the four Mohamed brothers.”

    This November, when the country goes to the polls to elect the next president, voters in California will be given the opportunity to amend the three strikes legislation so that it can be applied only in cases of violent crime. Dorothy Erskine is optimistic.”Ten years from now we will not have this law as it is,” she said.”There will not be a 20th anniversary.”

    But her optimism is laced with fatalism. “I’ll be very honest with you. These are the hopes that I have: maybe I’ll get $1m in the lottery. But I am a believer, and my hope is in the Lord.”

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  47. peace (26 comments) says:

    US violent crime has also fallen in other areas where the Three Strikes law is not enforced. It should also be noted that punishments for homicides are extremely harsh, resulting in extremely long sentences, life sentences without the possibility of parole or even the death penalty, even for the first conviction, overshadowing any deterrent effect of the three strikes law.
    However, there is some evidence that criminals on their last strike are more desperate to escape from police and therefore more likely to attack police

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  48. peace (26 comments) says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/jan/25/california-three-strikes-law

    Jeremy Stewart, with his daughter Heatherly. He is currently serving a 70-year sentence for burglary. She will be 60 before he is eligible for parole

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  49. metcalph (1,292 comments) says:

    Brian Smith was convicted of Grand Theft (California) which is generally taking property worth more than $400.

    Secondly the “I didn’t know these people who were stealing” has the ring of a criminal’s excuse rather than that of an innocent man. It may be that his lack of knowledge only went as far as not knowing their real names.

    Thirdly the first two offences under California’s three strikes law must be felonies. Purse-snatching and burglary look like attempts to play down what he was actually convicted of. For the burglary to have been a felony, he must have been intent on committing a felony on the premises – mere theft won’t quite make the cut.

    Lastly look at an appeal indicates that his first offence was not purse-snatching but according to his appeal team “not a strong-arm robbery but was erroneously elevated to that crime from the original charge of grand theft auto, even though the offense involved no weapon or violence.” Even assuming his lawyer’s summary of the relevant offense is accurate (A fairly large if), there is huge disconnect between that and purse-snatching.

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  50. peace (26 comments) says:

    The NZ three strikes system is similar to the none alcohol drink sold in the late 70′s called “Clayton” it looked and tasted like whiskey and fools brought it at a high price just like the NZ three strikes.
    If they place Norton in jail for his third strike, he gets the lotto winnings of over a million dollars we tax payers fund for his holiday.

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  51. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    There we have it ladies and gents! A long diatribe on the undoubted faults of California’s three strikes law – except ours is nothing like it. Ours was specifically designed to ensure that NONE of the above can happen here.

    Perhaps “Peace” (that’s a lovely nick!) could take us through the cases of the seven second strikers, and try to make our hearts bleed with one of them.

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  52. Elaycee (4,055 comments) says:

    Cry me a river….

    The morons who have faced a Judge and are convicted for crimes that qualify under the 3S legislation, totally deserve everything that is coming their way. And if that means they are off our streets for an extended period… Great!

    But it’s a pity that the druggies and ‘P’ manufacturers were not included in this legislation.

    Agree with duggledog who said of David Garrett: “…I for one say good on you. It must have been an absolute shit-fight. I’ll buy you a pint one day for your trouble..”

    Well said, sir.

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  53. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    I am actually very pleased that “Peace” has to resort to Californian examples to supposedly demonstrate the “draconian” (the left love that word!) nature of our 3S law. I am well aware of the kind of sentences that have arisen under their system – I have a whole file full of cases. That’s the reason our law is so different. It was deliberately drafted so the above examples could not happen.

    I see in the second last paragraph of “Peace’s” cut and paste a reference to an attempt to modify the California 3S law so it only applies to violent offences. I wonder if he/she actually knows that that is exactly what we have here? Or that our law actually specifies WHICH violent offences are strike offences, and excludes everything else?

    Perhaps (s)he was too busy to do a little research before leaping into print – or rather cut and paste – here.

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  54. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    Pure drug offences have no place under 3S…or any decent law in general….because they are not actual criminal acts…..they do not violate the rights of an un-consenting other. Nor does consenting adult incest…ikky as we might find it. Only acts that do have a actual victim should be included.

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  55. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Scorned: In principle I agree with that. The point about meth manufacture is that by its very nature, it creates innocent victims – other than those who buy it. Senior policemen I spoke to during my time in parliament said that in almost every particularly brutal case since the advent of P, it was involved somewhere.

    The best example is James Te Aute, who was shot by Antonie Dixon while the latter was on a P fueled rampage that had begun with the mutilation of two of his former girlfriends with a samurai sword. Te Aute was the classic “innocent bystander”, at a gas station in South Auckland when Dixon arrived with his homemade machine gun.

    My friends in SST would disagree with me, but I would not support making – say – LSD importation and sale a strike offence. Although there may be some, I am unaware of any cases in which LSD users have harmed anyone other than themselves. So long as they are adults, that is their business.

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  56. mikenmild (8,715 comments) says:

    There is no rationale for making involvement with P manufacture and distribution a criminal offence just because some people who take P commit violent offences. If that were the logic, then we should ban alcohol. I’m with The Scorned – leave consenting adults alone.
    But could we bring this thread back to the actual three strikes law though, and set aside drug use and the red herring of the California example?
    It seems to me the the flaws with this approach are much as what has been pointed to by the likes of Graeme Edgeler – there is potential for markedly unequal treatment of similar offending. We have very long sentences available to punish serious violent offending, and some offenders need to be put away for a very long time indeed. I wonder though, whether the lack of discretion imposed by the 3S approach will inevitably hamper judges in their ability to sentence criminals on the facts before them.

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  57. nasska (9,462 comments) says:

    …”there is potential for markedly unequal treatment of similar offending”…..

    Now you are making assumptions without having the full facts in front of you. You couldn’t know that the defendant given the lenient sentence may have not been breast fed.

    Your sickly white liberal reasoning is being watered down by the amount of time you spend here. :)

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  58. David Garrett (5,102 comments) says:

    Mikey: Regarding “disporportionate sentencing” you, along with all the other liberals, entirely miss the point. The 3S regime is DESIGNED to create disprorptionate sentences – for those who keep offending.

    I will spell it out. The first time you commit a strike offence, you get treated as if there was no 3S law; you get a sentence with parole as usual. But you receive an explicit warning of the consequences of similar offending in the future. The second time you commit a violent offence you lose the right to parole – and get a final warning. If you do it again, you get the maximum penalty prescribed for that offence – a vastly “disproportionate” sentence from that you received the first time for what may be the same offence.

    That is the whole point! Is is SUPPOSED to get more severe if you don’t, or won’t, get the message that society will not tolerate your behaviour. Do you get me?

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  59. mikenmild (8,715 comments) says:

    I simply prefer a regime where a judge has more discretion to impose an appropriate sentence based on the facts of the case and the circumstances of the offender.

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  60. peace (26 comments) says:

    This third strike debate is on its second day with only 59 responses to date, 16 responses so far are from a criminal “Garrett’s”
    Boring

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  61. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    I am surprised DPF gives a low life like Garrett this type of platform.

    Garrett’s blog is the new definition of irony.

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  62. peace (26 comments) says:

    Circuses one time used freaks to grab peoples curiosity (excuse the expression) such as the “beared lady” similar to Garrett who is a freak with the low life end of criminal offending.

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