Maybe three strikes for burglaries isn’t a bad idea

March 6th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A reader sent me a link to this 2012 story:

One of New Zealand’s most prolific burglars – with 388 convictions to his name – has been sent back to jail, but is hopeful he can change his ways.

Allan Tremain Adams, 41, added two more burglaries to his bulging list on April 17 when he broke into Autocraft in Tremaine Ave, Palmerston North.

He got away with nothing after activating the alarm but then broke into the Willard Rest Home in Russell St and stole $1200 of petty cash.

Blood stains found at the two premises led police to Adams, who was released from his previous prison sentence late last year.

In Palmerston District Court yesterday, he was sent back for two years and nine months on two charges of burglary and one of breaching parole.

Adams has 439 convictions in total and began offending when he was 12 years old and committed arson.

439 convictions and a sentence of under three years!

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87 Responses to “Maybe three strikes for burglaries isn’t a bad idea”

  1. Manolo (14,184 comments) says:

    It’s an excellent idea! Scum like this criminal should be locked up permanently.

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  2. MPH (18 comments) says:

    Yes. The big issue of today is that we should increase this guys sentence by 3 months. That will make a difference.

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  3. David Garrett (7,702 comments) says:

    MPH: That comment is nonsensical…who is suggesting that?

    DPF: this article was debated here a few days ago … “Judith” that supposed great defender of victims stoutly maintained that the article DOESNT say he has 388 convictions for burglary, so I’m glad you have cut and pasted the actual article…it’s pretty clear to any objective reader than he as 388 convictions for burglary and 439 in total.

    Given the maximum sentence for burglary is seven years – and he has got less than half that for his latest addition to what the Judge describes as “his bulging list”, one wonders how many he would have to rack up to get the maximum or something near it?

    As DPF says, a good example of why extending 3S to burglary is a good idea, although I remain of the view that other offences – such as P manufacture and/or sale – are better candidates.

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  4. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    Given the maximum sentence for burglary is seven years – and he has got less than half that for his latest addition to what the Judge describes as “his bulging list”, one wonders how many he would have to rack up to get the maximum or something near it?

    DG – The maximum for burglary is 10 years.

    DPF – you ask “what does it take to get the maximum?” In short, private dwellings. Well, closer to the maximum, anyway. These two offences were in respect of commercial premises: Autocraft, and the part of a rest home which has petty cash. I think you will find that if the burglaries had been of dwellings (especially at night), then the penalties would have been higher, above the three years that the 3S burglary proposal directs.

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  5. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Of course, because making policy based upon one person’s criminal history makes such good sense… Oh, wait, the Nats have already done that after Weatherston. Never mind, carry on.

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  6. OneTrack (3,376 comments) says:

    “I think you will find that if the burglaries had been of dwellings (especially at night), then the penalties would have been higher, above the three years that the 3S burglary proposal directs.”

    If he was serving multiple 3 year sentences, how did he have the time to do all those burglaries.

    I am confident that the revolving door justice system that we have in New Zealand waved the wet bus ticket and sent him on his way.

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  7. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    If he was serving multiple 3 year sentences, how did he have the time to do all those burglaries.

    Because sentences are not generally made consecutive in NZ.

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  8. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    Anyone getting fired for failing to rehabilitate him? How many strikes are we up to for the person who’s responsible for that task?

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  9. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    What about a new sentencing rule called “It’s time to write this guy off”…?

    To get the ball rolling, I imagine the wording of it might be something like:

    15.4.2 It’s time to write this guy off

    Any person having 199 previous convictions, who is convicted under the crimes Act, shall receive a sentence of preventative detention, without eligibility to apply for parole.

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  10. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    David Garrett (4,829 comments) says:
    March 6th, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    I have actually had that clarified and they are NOT all for burglary. Whilst the majority are burglary related, not all are. I think you need to get that clarified yourself – I presume you are able to do that, instead of continuing to claim something that is not true.

    However, it is worth pointing out that this guy is probably as bad as it gets here – there are a number of offenders with 200+ and that is far too many – I do not oppose the three strikes rule for Burgs – I oppose exaggeration. I would actually support a law for preventative detention for anyone with more than 5-10 separate burglary offences.

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  11. kowtow (8,945 comments) says:

    What’s the point of the cops going after these guys ,which clearly they do,439 convictions ,if the courts don’t do anything about it,which clearly they don’t ?

    I’d love to see a few judges being sued by the victims of crime where the sentence was bollocks……it might remind them about whose side they’re meant to be on.

    And they should be on our side ,not the fucken’ crims’.

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  12. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Anyone getting fired for failing to rehabilitate him?

    Stupid comment.  A prisoner can only be rehabilitated if they want to be.

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  13. Elaycee (4,425 comments) says:

    David Garrett: …one wonders how many he would have to rack up to get the maximum or something near it?

    Exactly. Why we would allow a moron with 388 burglaries against his name see the light of day again in anything less than 10 years, defies logic.

    And do we really believe the copious amounts of ‘counselling’ he’ll receive inside prison, will somehow lead to him ‘going straight’??? Of course not…. it hasn’t worked so far, has it?

    Some criminals just don’t get it…. and, it appears, neither did the Judge in this instance.

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  14. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ Ryan Sproull (6,306 comments) says:
    March 6th, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    How can anyone be rehabilitated that doesn’t want to be? Just how are you meant to achieve such a rehabilitation?

    Let’s not forget that probably for every one of the times these guys are caught, they have made money from offences they haven’t been caught for. For many of them it is a way of life, and income earner, and the time spent in prison is just ‘time off’.

    In my experience many of them are not required to pay reparation and a lot use the excuse of ‘gambling problem’ for explaining they have no money to pay back. To be a burglar you have to cunning – these guys know how to play the system. PD them, and you might make a difference. They will be too old when they get out …

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  15. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    Stupid comment. A prisoner can only be rehabilitated if they want to be.

    Stupid comment. Changing people’s wants, and their consequent actions, is what rehabilitation is all about.

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  16. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    How can anyone be rehabilitated that doesn’t want to be? Just how are you meant to achieve such a rehabilitation?

    Not my job. That’s what I’m paying someone else to figure out, through my taxes.

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  17. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    and, it appears, neither did the Judge in this instance.

    So obviously the Police/Crown will be appealing the sentence.  Won’t they?  Surely a failure to appeal it would be an indication that the prosecuting authorities are also not doing their job properly?

    EDIT:

    What’s the point of the cops going after these guys ,which clearly they do,439 convictions ,if the courts don’t do anything about it,which clearly they don’t ?

    Again, the cops can appeal the sentence.  Why aren’t they doing so?

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  18. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Changing people’s wants, and their consequent actions, is what rehabilitation is all about.

    Another stupid comment.  Rehabilitation cannot be forced. Well, it can, but that is probably illegal under all sorts of torture laws.  If a prisoner does not want to be rehabilitated then no amount of attempts to change their ‘wants’ will succeed.

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  19. OneTrack (3,376 comments) says:

    “Because sentences are not generally made consecutive in NZ.”

    Another failing of the NZ legal system. Justice (sic) with a bulk discount.

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  20. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ Ryan Sproull (6,308 comments) says:
    March 6th, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    As long as the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, there is little likelihood that rehabilitation would succeed. It doesn’t matter how much energy you put into it.

    These people wouldn’t make money, and it wouldn’t be profitable if there wasn’t a market for what they steal. Any in roads need to come from a multi-pronged attack, that addresses all aspects of theft.

    The insurance industry doesn’t help much either – many people get lazy and complacent knowing they can just collect for what is taken.

    Make people lock their stuff up better, take better care, sting those that purchase stolen stuff, and hit the habitual burglars with a preventative sentence, and maybe the whole thing will change but as it is, its an easy game.

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  21. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    Another stupid comment. Rehabilitation cannot be forced. Well, it can, but that is probably illegal under all sorts of torture laws. If a prisoner does not want to be rehabilitated then no amount of attempts to change their ‘wants’ will succeed.

    That these guys want to behave the way they do is the problem. You can’t change behaviour without changing motivations. If criminals wanted to be rehabilitated – in other words, if criminals wanted to not be criminals – they wouldn’t be criminals in the first place.

    And changes of motivations absolutely can be forced, if by “forced” you mean “affected by other people”. You don’t need to torture someone to change their desires and motivations, but you do need to change their desires and motivations to change their behaviour.

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  22. OneTrack (3,376 comments) says:

    “If a prisoner does not want to be rehabilitated then no amount of attempts to change their ‘wants’ will succeed.”

    Which is exactly where three strikes comes in.

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  23. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    Okay, Judith, fair enough. You’re talking about making the action of burglary less appealing by making it take more effort of less pay-off. That makes sense. But once people are in prison, there have to be other ways to alter their motivations other than telling them “when you’re set free again, it’s going to be more of a hassle to steal stuff”.

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  24. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    If criminals wanted to be rehabilitated – in other words, if criminals wanted to not be criminals – they wouldn’t be criminals in the first place.

    That ain’t necessarily true; it tends to show a very naive view of people. 

    Perhaps explains why you are a lefty!

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  25. Harriet (5,201 comments) says:

    “…..there are a number of offenders with 200+ and that is far too many…”

    Judith: 41yrs -12yrs = 29

    388 divided by 29 is about 13 offences every year for 29 whole years – 3 decades.

    The minister is just another fucken clown in a long line of clowns who play at seeing that Justice is done in NZ. :cool:

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  26. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ Ryan Sproull (6,309 comments) says:
    March 6th, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    An offender comes out of prison on a burglary rap. He can’t get a job because he’s a thief, and no one wants a dishonest person working for them, so what does he do? Usually he struggles for a while, trying to do the right thing, but it becomes too hard, and he reverts back to what he knows from the past has worked.

    How do you rehabilitate that? How do you motivate someone to take the harder road, despite it being the honest one?
    Motivation works by reward, and perhaps if they could be assured a job etc at the end of their sentence their might be a chance, but then you have to fight the environment they live in, where if they are working, they are probably the ‘odd one out’.

    In theory what you say should work, in practice, it doesn’t work very often.

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  27. Elaycee (4,425 comments) says:

    F E Smith: So obviously the Police/Crown will be appealing the sentence. Won’t they?

    Whilst I’d love to see it, I doubt they would appeal… because it would probably be a waste of time and money. IMO, the Judiciary (generalisation) is piss weak in NZ and it seems they (generalisation again) have a cavalier approach to Law and Order and to punishment fitting the crime.

    This case is classic: if the reports are correct, Judge Atkins actually said he needed to consider whether Adams could be rehabilitated, noting that prison sentences on their own had not been working. Rehabilitated? Do you really believe that a moron with 388 burglary convictions against his name, will suddenly mend his ways because he has had counselling inside the prison?

    Of course not – and I’m confident you’ll acknowledge the chances of this moron changing course, are slim at best.

    IMO, he should have been sentenced to 10 years.

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  28. kowtow (8,945 comments) says:

    judith says ….they are cunning. So cunning this guy keeps getting caught!

    judith says lock up your stuff ie it’s your fault.

    judith says it’s insurances’ fault ,oh yeah we love paying the excess !

    judith says anything that comes to mind.

    Kowtow says if judges locked these fuckers up for long enough there wouldn’t be such a big problem.Simple.

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  29. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ Harriet (3,753 comments) says:
    March 6th, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    That’s one a month – that he has been caught for – chances are he’s doing one a week – and hasn’t been caught.
    Although, the police are pretty good at identifying signature actions of habitual burglars.

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  30. kowtow (8,945 comments) says:

    Fes

    You are the oracle ,you tell us why they aren’t appealling?

    Do they know it would be a waste of time.

    Perhaps Crown lawyers are soft cocks too……don’t rock the boat and all that.You’ll get to the bench faster ,nudge nudge wink wink.

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  31. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    That ain’t necessarily true; it tends to show a very naive view of people.

    I consider yours to be the naive view – that people just randomly choose to change without being given any reason to do so. Convenient, but naive.

    It is certainly possible that a criminal could want to be rehabilitated – want to stop committing crimes – as a result of how being in prison sucks and they don’t want that consequence any more. But the facts of recidivism rates show that this is demonstratively not the case for many criminals.

    Certainly there are some people who would like to address this by making prison sentences even less desirable by making prison suck even more, and while I don’t agree with them, there is at least some rational thinking behind it – addressing motivations behind behaviour.

    But to sit back and say you’re waiting for criminals to “want to be rehabilitated” is irrational and will never yield results. Or, if you must think about it in those terms, you should be asking the question: “Why don’t criminals want to be rehabilitated? What can we do to encourage their desire for rehabilitation?” Because answering those questions will yield results.

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  32. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ kowtow (6,462 comments) says:
    March 6th, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Obviously if there was no benefit to what he was doing he would have ceased a long time ago, unless he is one of those people that actually prefers to be in prison than in the community.

    I once dealt with a very very clever burglar. He had 23 convictions for burglary and had spent 10 years in prison. Overall his weekly income (profit from theft) over the 15 year period he had been ‘active’ was $1700, and that was 15 years ago. That was how much he had stolen over those years. He specialised in hotels and businesses – a talented safe cracker.

    Why would he want to give that income up, although I believe he eventually did when technology got the better of him.

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  33. Harriet (5,201 comments) says:

    “…….An offender comes out of prison on a burglary rap. He can’t get a job because he’s a thief, and no one wants a dishonest person working for them, so what does he do? Usually he struggles for a while, trying to do the right thing, but it becomes too hard, and he reverts back to what he knows from the past has worked. ……How do you rehabilitate that?…”

    Stop talking rubbish Judith. You are saying that every burglar who is released from jail doesn’t reform.

    Or if some do reform – it then invalidates all the excuses you have just listed!

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  34. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ Harriet (3,755 comments) says:
    March 6th, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    I didn’t say none reform, I gave an example of something that does happen quite a lot.

    The issue was why don’t all of them get rehabilitated – that was an example of what often happens – and why some of them don’t. Please stop adding words like ‘all’ when I haven’t used them.

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  35. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    that people just randomly choose to change without being given any reason to do so

    I never said that.  Don’t make things up and pretend they are my opinions.

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  36. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    I never said that. Don’t make things up and pretend they are my opinions.

    So you think that people can be given reasons to want to rehabilitate?

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  37. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    because it would probably be a waste of time and money

    How do they know that?  If they don’t appeal then they are saying that the sentence is correct.  Appealing the sentence can work if the sentence was too low, so just taking a bloody-minded “all judges are the same” approach is silly.  In fact, it isn’t just silly, but also very wrong.

    The only conclusion that can be drawn if the Police do not appeal is that the sentence was correct.

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  38. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    So you think that people can be given reasons to want to rehabilitate?

    Of course, but you cannot force them to accept those reasons.  Or to adhere to those reasons.  Or to resist temptation once on the outside.  And so on and so forth.

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  39. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    Of course, but you cannot force them to accept those reasons. Or to adhere to those reasons. Or to resist temptation once on the outside. And so on and so forth.

    By reasons, I mean motivating desires, not reasoned arguments.

    But either way, you are describing a situation where if we have 100 criminals who don’t want to rehabilitate, you can give them all a reason to want to rehabilitate, and some number (not all) of those 100 will subsequently want to rehabilitate. Am I understanding you correctly?

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  40. Harriet (5,201 comments) says:

    “Why don’t criminals want to be rehabilitated?

    They probably all ‘want’ at some level to be rehabilitated, but if you keep your ‘horizons’ low in prison then prison is a very good place to be. None of life’s worries at all. You just have to control your ‘wants’ – like the thought of a women or a beer or the beach.

    Prison is a relatively ordered social place while life outside is not, outside can also be very cruel at times too.

    A rather serious criminal in Sydney told me something like this – In our line of business we look at prison the same way as a businessman looks at tax – you do have to pay it at times, so it is best to minimise it and put that cost out further into the future.

    They all play the game – and the lawyers do all the work.

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  41. Grizz (613 comments) says:

    388 convictions. He clearly is a bad thief if he gets caught all the time. He should consider an alternative profession.

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  42. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ Harriet (3,756 comments) says:
    March 6th, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Ain’t that the truth – well said Harry!

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  43. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Am I understanding you correctly?

    No.

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  44. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    Okay. F E Smith.

    You say that criminals can be given reasons to want to rehabilitate.

    If you took a population of criminals who had not been given a reason to want to rehabilitate, and gave them a reason to rehabilitate, would that result in an increase in the number of criminals who wanted to rehabilitate?

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  45. David Garrett (7,702 comments) says:

    It’s really very simple…If a 3S regime of the same kind which now applies to violent offences applied to burglary, a person in this guy’s position simply couldn’t rack up 388 convictions or anything like it…After his third burg – lets say at age 19 or 20 – he gets the maximum 10 years (thanks Graeme E; I should have checked)..he comes out aged 30 and after a year or two – because he’s not entirely stupid – he commits another…another sentence of ten years…repeat age 42, and 52 released aged 62…Too old to climb in windows or over fences = burglary career over having committed 7 or 8 burgs instead of 388 – or if Judith insists – 378…

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  46. Harriet (5,201 comments) says:

    Of course Ryan -but you are working off a very low base. And you’ll find that since it is all new to them, you’ll end up having something like 90% taking a look. But that’s not reality is it.

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  47. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    You say that criminals can be given reasons to want to rehabilitate.

    Actually, I was just repeating yourself back to you to show that I don’t agree, is all. 

    By reasons, I mean motivating desires, not reasoned arguments.

    You are still trying to put words in my mouth.

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  48. Harriet (5,201 comments) says:

    “….Please stop adding words like ‘all’ when I haven’t used them….”

    You said that NO ONE employs a dishonest person – a known thief.

    So clearly -ALL- must not then be employed.

    You are the one Judith who says something, and when others question it you then twist it.

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  49. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:
    By reasons, I mean motivating desires, not reasoned arguments.

    You are still trying to put words in my mouth.

    I was clarifying words in my mouth. That’s why I said “I mean”.

    You say that criminals can be given reasons to want to rehabilitate.

    Actually, I was just repeating yourself back to you to show that I don’t agree, is all.

    At 1.21, I asked you: “So you think that people can be given reasons to want to rehabilitate?”

    At 1.25, you replied, “Of course.”

    This was you repeating myself back to me to show that you don’t agree? Saying “of course” to a direct question? Are you drinking?

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  50. David Garrett (7,702 comments) says:

    According to the latest Listener, criminal behaviour is all down to lead from paint and petrol…that’s apparently why crime is falling sharply, 20 odd years after lead was removed from gas…so we don’t have to worry any more…Give it a few years, and we can start leaving our houses open again when we go out…

    To be fair, the crimes of burglary and murder are two which the promoters of this particular theory say show the weakest correlation between lead levels and offending…

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  51. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    According to the latest Listener, criminal behaviour is all down to lead from paint and petrol…that’s apparently why crime is falling sharply, 20 odd years after lead was removed from gas…so we don’t have to worry any more…Give it a few years, and we can start leaving our houses open again when we go out…

    To be fair, the crimes of burglary and murder are two which the promoters of this particular theory say show the weakest correlation between lead levels and offending…

    This has been expected for years, David. It’s a predictable pattern. I even recall university conversations with student politicians 10 years ago saying that being in Government about now would reap the benefits of a dipping crime rate.

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  52. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Of course people can be given reasons for rehabilitation. No one is stopping anyone from giving anyone reaons for anything.

    When it comes to rehab my views do not encompass ‘reasons’.

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  53. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ David Garrett

    The listener needs to get the facts straight. Lead in paint and petrol has mostly been attributed to violent offending, which the majority of burglaries aren’t. Where burglary gets tied into the research is when it is used to convict people who have entered another property and then committed a violent act, or had the intention of committing a violent act. Hence a sort of ‘false positive’ reading, – a type of burglary that doesn’t involve theft.

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  54. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    Of course people can be given reasons for rehabilitation. No one is stopping anyone from giving anyone reaons for anything.

    When it comes to rehab my views do not encompass ‘reasons’.

    Okay. Let’s leave that in the realm of definitions for now.

    You think people can be given reasons to want to rehabilitate.

    Do you think that a population of criminals who do not want to rehabilitate, upon being given reasons to want to rehabilitate, may result in some of those criminals converting from “criminals who do not want to rehabilitate” to “criminals who do want to rehabilitate”?

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  55. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    You think people can be given reasons to want to rehabilitate.

    You don’t get it, do you? I wasn’t agreeing with you.  I accept that people can be given reasons to rehabilitate.  I personally don’t think that approach will work.  But you can give anybody reasons for anything.  For example, you can give me as many reasons as you want for why I should eat brussels sprouts, but you will never convince me that I should eat the evil little things.

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  56. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    You don’t get it, do you? I wasn’t agreeing with you.

    I’m not asking if you are agreeing with me. I am asking if you are telling the truth when you say: “I accept that people can be given reasons to rehabilitate.”

    But you can give anybody reasons for anything. For example, you can give me as many reasons as you want for why I should eat brussels sprouts, but you will never convince me that I should eat the evil little things.

    Thus my clarification at 1.29 of what I meant by “reasons”.

    I’ll repeat it, but remember, the words “I mean” refer to me explaining something about what I mean. They denote a sentence that is not putting words in your mouth.

    By reasons, I mean motivating desires, not reasoned arguments.

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  57. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Yes and no. One can try to help them come to that point, but I believe the process has to be primarily internal. It has to be their own motivation, a conclusion that they have arrived at themself. They can be assisted in getting to the position where they will achieve that, but it cannot be not forced or simply given to them by an external agent. Hence my initial comment.

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  58. Elaycee (4,425 comments) says:

    FES: The only conclusion that can be drawn if the Police do not appeal is that the sentence was correct.

    No, no, no…. Not the only conclusion at all.

    Perhaps the Police also recognise that appealing is a complete waste of time. One such example is this case…. what are the chances this moron would receive a longer sentence than 2 years 9 months (the maximum possible sentence is 10 years) if the Police appealed the sentence? Indeed, given our wonderful ‘parole system’, this recidivist will be back on the streets in no time.

    I’d suggest the chances [of him getting a longer sentence] are not good.

    And given your experience dealing with the beak, I suspect you already know that… :P

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  59. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    Yes and no. One can try to help them come to that point, but I believe the process has to be primarily internal. It has to be their own motivation, a conclusion that they have arrived at themself. They can be assisted in getting to the position where they will achieve that, but it cannot be not forced or simply given to them by an external agent. Hence my initial comment.

    Perhaps it’s just a question of definition, then: my definition of rehabilitation extends to those external factors which can have a measurable impact on increasing the likelihood of that internal process resulting in a change of behaviour.

    In other words, if there are things that Public Servant A can say or do that will increase the likelihood of Criminal B wanting to rehabilitate (the prerequisite for rehabilitation in your description), then saying or doing those things should be considered.

    And if saying or doing some things are more effective than others at increasing the likelihood of Criminal B wanting to rehabilitate, then we can refine and improve those methods over time.

    This effectiveness at increasing the likelihood of criminals wanting to rehabilitate would have to be measured statistically, of course, because as you point out, a sample size of 1 is too unpredictable to be useful.

    And if rehabilitation is a stated objective of our justice system and someone is accountable for the performance of the justice system, their professional performance should in part be judged by the success or failure of these means of increasing the likelihood of criminals wanting to rehabilitate.

    Which is why I made my slightly glib point originally (three strikes for the public servant in charge of rehabilitation), that responsibility for reoffending criminals’ behaviour in part lies with those whose job is to affect that behaviour.

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  60. cricko (453 comments) says:

    Has anyone ever been handed the maximum sentence for burglary in New Zealand ?

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  61. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Perhaps the Police also recognise that appealing is a complete waste of time.

    That is not a valid consideration.  If they consider the sentence to be inappropriate then they should appeal.  Moreover, your reasoning as to why it might be waste of time is incorrect.  

    I’d suggest the chances [of him getting a longer sentence] are not good.

    I take it you have made that observation after a careful review of the sentencing digest?

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  62. DJP6-25 (1,390 comments) says:

    Removing concurrent sentencing as an option would help lower the crime rate too. Consecutive should be the only option.

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  63. wreck1080 (4,001 comments) says:

    Murdering another person does not get much time behind bars, so a petty crime like burglary gets comparatively less.

    Someone who has not learned the errors of their ways at 40 never will .

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  64. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    In other words, if there are things that Public Servant A can say or do that will increase the likelihood of Criminal B wanting to rehabilitate (the prerequisite for rehabilitation in your description), then saying or doing those things should be considered.

    Agreed.

    And if saying or doing some things are more effective than others at increasing the likelihood of Criminal B wanting to rehabilitate, then we can refine and improve those methods over time.

    Also agreed.

    This effectiveness at increasing the likelihood of criminals wanting to rehabilitate would have to be measured statistically, of course, because as you point out, a sample size of 1 is too unpredictable to be useful.

    Yes.

    And if rehabilitation is a stated objective of our justice system and someone is accountable for the performance of the justice system, their professional performance should in part be judged by the success or failure of these means of increasing the likelihood of criminals wanting to rehabilitate.

    Well, it is a stated objective of the penal system, rather than the justice system, but ok.  However, I agree with the ‘in part’ qulaification that you make.  When it comes to working with criminals, there has to be an allowance that trying to get them to do anything constructive can be a lot like herding cats.  When stated as an absolute, then I will disagree.

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  65. Elaycee (4,425 comments) says:

    FES: You’ve totally missed the point. So I’ll let your latest go through to the ‘keeper.

    LAC – out.

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  66. nasska (12,111 comments) says:

    F E Smith

    The layman is obviously at odds with the experts when it comes to sentencing. In the case of the slow learner from Palmerston North 30% of a maximum sentence for his umpteenth conviction(s) sets a challenge for us to get our heads around.

    Can you give us any insight as to why sentencing usually makes a mockery of the intentions of parliament. In the absence of any 3S add ons (which I agree is a blunt instrument) is there no way that the judiciary can be influenced by common opinion?

    Additionally the old chestnut of concurrent as opposed to cumulative sentencing seems to me to be worth looking at. As by the time the police catch up with burglars they have usually committed scores of previously unsolved crimes surely this is an area worth tightening up on. Presently it doesn’t seem to make a great deal of difference to the sentence if the convictions total one, ten or twenty.

    Any thoughts?

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  67. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    Well, it is a stated objective of the penal system, rather than the justice system, but ok. However, I agree with the ‘in part’ qulaification that you make. When it comes to working with criminals, there has to be an allowance that trying to get them to do anything constructive can be a lot like herding cats. When stated as an absolute, then I will disagree.

    Put it this way. I wouldn’t fire a teacher for having one student who doesn’t learn anything, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t judge a teacher against the overall improvement of their students’ abilities.

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  68. David Garrett (7,702 comments) says:

    Ryan S: I am assuming you have read the Listener article…you had obviously heard of the lead/crime theory, which I had also…along with all the other bizarre explanations to explain the precipitate drop in US crime after the 90’s…

    Given the supposed 20 year time lag between exposure to lead and criminal offending, perhaps you could explain to me why there wasnt an epidemic of violent crime in the 1950’s, 20 years after exposure to truly heroic amounts of lead in the 1930’s?

    In the 1930’s there was no other kind of paint than leaded; lead had been used in petrol since the begining of the motoring age, which really took off here in the 30’s…lead was in all sorts of other ubiquitous products such as home garden – and market garden – pesticides…People routinely burnt the old paint off their villas – the best way to release lead into the environment according to the article – before applying a generous new coat(s) of leaded paint…and protective equipment was something you only used in the cricket season to protect the family jewels..

    Why then was the 1950’s – 20 years later – a period of extremely low crime of all types, particularly violent crime? (Of course it will have nothing at all to do with the fact that at that time we had both corporal and capital punishment; prison sentences for just about anything, and with hard labour if you had been really naughty…)

    I await your learned explanation with considerable anticipation…

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  69. Ryan Sproull (7,361 comments) says:

    Why then was the 1950′s a period of extremely low crime of all types, particularly violent crime? (Of course it will have nothing at all to do with the fact that at that time we had both corporal and capital punishment; prison sentences for just about anything, and with hard labour if you had been really naughty…)

    It may well have had to do with those factors. Why would it not?

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  70. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    … the 1950′s … prison sentences for just about anything

    Except a course, a lot of violent crime, now considered much more serious. Male assaults female: “just a domestic”; marriage as a defence to a charge of rape; sexual and physical abuse in state (and church) care, almost totally ignored. etc.

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  71. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ David Garrett

    I know you didn’t address the question to me, but I’m sure you wouldn’t expect me to hold back either.

    In the period between 1930’s to 1950’s, very few families had vehicles. A large majority of the population was tied up with the War effort and so on. During the 1950’s the number of families with cars doubled in the US – and with that, the amount of people that were exposed to the lead.

    I don’t for one minute advocate that lead is the single factor, but it maybe a contributing factor. One also has to look at the social norms of the times, post WWI and the onset of WWII made offending a lot less as society was restricted by the depression, and a much stricter social order.

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  72. David Garrett (7,702 comments) says:

    Judith: I expect very little of you I can assure you…

    The trouble is this Listener article doesn’t say environmental lead was a contributing factor to crime years later – even I might agree with that – but that there was effectively no other explanation… 95% correlation between blood/lead levels and criminal offending 20 years later supposedly…May I suggest you read the article before you blunder into print further?

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  73. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    Can you give us any insight as to why sentencing usually makes a mockery of the intentions of parliament.

    I don’t agree that it does, nasska.  The public only really become aware of this when the media promotes it, so the public remains totally ignorant of the vast majority of sentences.  Sometimes judges make mistakes; that can be for a number of reasons, most of them unrelated to whether the judge is a bleeding-heart judge or not. I have seen pleas in mitigation of such effectiveness that the judge has been persuaded to take a course completely at odds to his/her initial intentions. I have seen a couple of those instances successfully appealed by Police. 

    The fact is that the judge would have given reasons in open court as to why he gave that sentence.  Unfortunately the media appears to have chosen not to report those reasons in full, which means that we are at a disadvantage when considering whether the sentence was correct or not. Some of the background has been given earlier, I note. 

    But ultimately the justice system is an adversarial system, with judges sitting as the decisionmakers based upon information presented by each side.  If a sentence is too low then it is the responsibility of the Police to appeal it, as they are one of the parties in the case.  The other party, the defendant, certainly ain’t going to appeal a low sentence, after all!

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  74. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ David Garrett (4,834 comments) says:
    March 6th, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I have read it and I wasn’t talking about environmental exposure. I’ve read a lot of the initial research reports as well. I am not convinced it is the entire answer, but a contributing factor. I think we have to look at many aspects which together give us the reasons for the rises and falls in the crime rates.

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  75. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ David Garrett

    P.S. I would love to see some research done on childhood head trauma and violent crime. It was amazing how many violent offenders had been hospitalised for some sort of head injury as a youngster. There is very little done on it.

    Having said that, there are also some weird and funny variables. The name ‘Shane’ seems to be disproportionately represented among violent offenders!!!

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  76. David Garrett (7,702 comments) says:

    Well then Judith…we largely agree…at least on this…

    But returning to the subject of this thread, the one thing we know for certain is that a 3 strike burglar in for “the max” for his third burglary won’t be committing any more for ten years….pretty much zero scope for burglary in prison..,

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  77. nasska (12,111 comments) says:

    F E Smith

    The Manawatu-Standard did give a fair bit of detail.

    ….” Adams was abused as a youngster and the judge urged him not to be weighed down by that.

    “You can decide to allow the person who damaged you to determine the rest of your life, but that’s to give that person more power than any person should ever be given over another human being,” Judge Atkins told Adams.

    “I haven’t seen it like that,” Adams said. He thanked the judge for that perspective and said he hoped to be able to put his past behind him.

    “I know it’s not going to be easy but I’m prepared to make the effort.

    “I did try my hardest this time round,” Adams said.

    “When I commit a crime I don’t consider the hurt I’m causing other people or myself.”

    Mr Flinn asked the judge to impose a sentence that would give the public a break from Adams for a long time.

    “Protection of society has got to be a significant factor in the court’s analysis.”

    But Judge Atkins said he needed to consider whether Adams could be rehabilitated, noting that prison sentences on their own had not been working.

    Defence lawyer Tony Thackery said his client had an addiction to burglaries. “….

    Ref: http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/7871947/Prolific-burglar-sent-back-to-jail

    But I take on board the responsibility of the Police to appeal if they think the sentence is inadequate. Perhaps it was just one of those days when everyone concerned was mellowed out & of good cheer.

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  78. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ David Garrett (4,835 comments) says:
    March 6th, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Yes you are right there, and if he should venture into stealing from the wrong person prison justice will sort him out.

    It would be interesting to know what his actual hit rate was, i.e. how many he got away with. Either he is extremely incompetent or very very good, and those he was caught for, more than made up for the profits of what he wasn’t apprehended for. No doubt someone will write a book someday.

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  79. Nostalgia-NZ (5,324 comments) says:

    I doubt the Crown will appeal because of the comments made by the Judge when he sentenced Adams. Somehow I don’t think there are many forty year old burglars that still offend, probably the highest amount of offences are by teens and in relatively large numbers per court appearance. A lot of information needed on this one. There was previously a 0 to 3 years sentence that could be applied to teens for burglary and 3 to 14 for adults which was called Preventive Detention and generally considered to be very harsh. I don’t if there were ‘warnings’ in advance on earlier convictions but, and only from memory, some one could get PD for being in an enclosed yard. At the time the recidivism rate was around 83%, a figure again that would need to be confirmed. The law was aimed a ‘safe breakers’ but included domestic burglary so you could say this has been tried before when recidivism rates were higher.

    As for rehabilitation, ‘inducement’ by potential sentence reduction or the alternative of letting a prisoner just do their time is one option. For all the crap Corrections get they’re getting results despite one off headlines such as that of Adams. Some of the inducements I’ve heard about are releasing particular gang members into cities away from their gang base to help them break ‘away,’ at the same time making them know the alternative if ‘falling back.’

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  80. flash2846 (289 comments) says:

    Why are our law professionals so lenient on burglars like this scum bag you ask?……

    Because judges, politicians and most lawyers have excellent home security and security in their work place; paid for by us. THEY are safe, that’s why! – end-of-story

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  81. David Garrett (7,702 comments) says:

    FES: (Or any other criminal defence lawyer): The “cynic bell” in me always goes off when I see it being offered in mitigation that the offender was sexual abused as a child…almost invariably there has never been any proceedings against said abuser and he is now conveniently dead…Now you fine gentlemen would of course never had done such a thing…but do you ever here of a defence brief suggesting that it might be a good idea for Bill the burglar to claim that conveniently dead Uncle Charlie interfered with him as a lad, and that is why he follows a life of crime?

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  82. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ David Garrett (4,837 comments) says:
    March 6th, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    You didn’t ask for my opinion, but hey! :-)

    Whilst the issue of ‘sexual abuse’ was frequently raised as a ‘reason’ for criminal offending, from males it was extremely rare (no so for females). Often one would try it, but when it comes to questioning on the incidents, very few men can actually sustain their story as the ‘nitty gritty’ details are frequently too hard to spin a story about.

    I found that those who had actually been abused were less likely to raise it as a defense and more likely to dance around the subject. Their reluctance due to the connotations involved with male/male sexual contact and the fear of being labelled a homosexual. Discussions with colleagues revealed the same thing. A fake was easy to spot – and yes they tried it, often.

    I suspect a male would be less likely to pick up a fake because discussing the sexual act with another male is difficult and males are less likely to go into the nitty gritty details. So obviously some would have got through the system with this ‘story’.

    Did it affect sentencing ? Only in so far as the rehabilitation plan and treatment suggestions.

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  83. David Garrett (7,702 comments) says:

    What’s hard to “sustain” if the story was “whenever he stayed at our place Uncle Charlie used to come into my bedroom, put his hand under the blankets and play with my willy”? “And I told Dad but he just said I was bullshitting”…Might go across rather well with some upper middle class Judge who went to a naice school and lived with naice parents in a a naice part of town…

    I have no idea if such false history are common or how often they happen…but with respect Judith, I’d actually like one of our defence lawyer brethren to comment….as riveting as your comments always are…

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  84. cricko (453 comments) says:

    If being sexually abused as a child is a mittigating factor for burglarising then why should I have to
    pay my speeding fine ?

    Everyone could play that silly get out of jail free card.

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  85. GJM (66 comments) says:

    Judith saz
    “That’s one a month – that he has been caught for – chances are he’s doing one a week – and hasn’t been caught.
    Although, the police are pretty good at identifying signature actions of habitual burglars.”

    This comment assumes the police actually bother enough to turn up, let alone apply any more effort than it takes to fill in teh report form for your insurance company. In my experience and that of others, this is a rare thing. A few years ago, as ai recall, the police response rate to burglary was ~30%, with a clearance rate under 5%. I assume it was only htat high as most were dumb enough to leave a signed confession…

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  86. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ GJM (53 comments) says:
    March 7th, 2014 at 8:28 am

    That is a very good point and to add to it GJM, there is the fact that some insurance companies no longer require mandatory police reporting on stolen goods under a certain value. Some thefts never get reported or claimed on. Many people know its just not worth the bother – as the goods are never returned.

    I think the true cost of theft in New Zealand would be a staggering figure if we included everything in the calculation.

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  87. Left Right and Centre (3,016 comments) says:

    Hack off his hands. I don’t give a fuck about cost-benefit, $$ or otherwise.

    That might slow the cunt down a bit.

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