The three strikes bail issue

The Herald reports:

Victim advocates are calling for changes to the three-strikes law to ensure offenders receive a warning for each crime they commit that is eligible under the law.

They say a “loophole” in the legislation means those who offend while on bail are avoiding strike warnings, and have asked Justice Minister Judith Collins to consider making changes.

I have blogged on this in the past and think a law change is very sensible, and in keeping with the intentions of the legislation.

Under the law, violent and sexual offenders receive a normal sentence and a warning for strike one, a sentence without parole for strike two, and the maximum sentence for that offence, without parole, for strike three.

A warning can be given only when someone is convicted. If they go on to commit further strike offences, they will receive further warnings.

But if they commit other strike offences between their arrest and sentencing, they do not receive a warning for it.

And there are already perverse incentives to commit further crimes on bail, as they may not lead to a longer sentence. If someone is charged with say rape, they should be told when given bail that if convicted of rape it will be a (say) first strike, and if they commite any other strikes offences while on bail, that will get them a second strike if also convicted.

If the charge does not result in a conviction, the provisional warning would be wiped.

As it should be.

By August, 1892 people had been given first strike warnings after being convicted for qualifying offending such as sexual or violent crime. Eleven offenders have been given a second strike.

We should get some fascinating data over time about the re-offending rates of those who get strikes, as compared to before the regime.

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