Franks on abolishing parole

September 5th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

writes:

ACT and the Conservatives are making excellent criminal justice policy announcements. If both are in Parliament we might see an end to the cosy major party consensus that has fostered our high rates of serious violent and youth crime.

Garth McVicar’s announcement on is more straightforward than I had expected. Most criminals come up for at one third of their Judge-given sentence. Garth says:

“The Conservative Party will overhaul the parole system so that a Judge given sentence means what it says, 9 years will mean 9 years. Life will mean Life. The only function of the parole board will be to apply release conditions and ensure they are enforced”

So how would no parole work?

It seems that they would introduce the US Federal system introduced after 1996, when Bill Clinton reached across party lines and took the Republicans policy and ended federal parole. Instead, there is a period of mandatory supervision at the end of most sentences. 

Great! There is no evidence that parole works any better to reduce reoffending than supervision at the end of the judge-given sentence. 

I’d be interested to see data on this.

People worry that prison populations will explode. That has not been the inevitable experience elsewhere after parole has been cut back. Prison musters would likely drop after an initial rise while offenders worked out that a new sheriff had come to town. 

Some attribute the long drop in crime rates in the US, for example, at least partially to the increased deterrence of sentencing certainty. There is a good research consensus that severity of sentencing has much less deterrent power than speed and certainty of detection, conviction and punishment. Ending criminal expectation of parole dramatically increases certainty, and judges could afford to reduce sentence lengths.  

It would be logical to reduce a sentence length to take account of no parole.

But there is another reason why prison musters will not escalate nearly as much as some would theorise. Because much of the serious crime is committed by a relatively small population of career criminals, the change would  merely cancel for  those serious offenders, who accumulate records of hundreds of crimes, their brief parole excursions from prison to add to their tally. Instead they stay much longer where they cannot prey on fresh victims. 

I think this is right. A small core of criminals commit a huge amount of the crimes.

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92 Responses to “Franks on abolishing parole”

  1. redqueen (567 comments) says:

    I would vote for that, but will National actually back it? Having certainty in sentencing would be sensible, along with not having a revolving door for some in our prisons.

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  2. georgebolwing (869 comments) says:

    Won’t this change simply mean that judges will sentence people to far shorter terms? So rather than nine years, with parole after three, the sentence will just be three years.

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  3. xy (187 comments) says:

    ‘Prison musters would likely drop after an initial rise while offenders worked out that a new sheriff had come to town. ‘

    Policy by cowboy movie analogy.

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  4. Scott Chris (6,150 comments) says:

    Behaviour modification involves practice of that desired behaviour. Parole provides an incentive for prisoners to practice good behaviour.

    Just make sentences longer if you think that’s what society needs. No need to piss around with bullshit like 3 strikes and abolishing parole.

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  5. NK (1,244 comments) says:

    Won’t this change simply mean that judges will sentence people to far shorter terms? So rather than nine years, with parole after three, the sentence will just be three years.

    Essentially, yes. I think that is what will happen in practice.

    Abolishing parole is great, but it just means those violent nutters who commit further crimes will do so after their release of their full sentence, rather than upon their release on parole. Sadly, it’s just delaying the inevitable.

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  6. Distilled essence of NZ (85 comments) says:

    Has this been costed? It will mean a blow-out in the corrections budget, and will punish all those who have made a one-off error of judgement, or have been wrongfully convicted. Very bad law.

    Another point is, the reason re-offending rates are so high is that most people who get out of jail struggle to get a job because of their conviction, and see no hope in trying to better themselves so go straight back to offending. It’s nearly impossible to survive on a benefit, so they’ll find criminal means to supplement their income. If we had a policy of full employment like we used to, crime levels might go back down to the low levels we had (i.e. 1970s)

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  7. Ross12 (1,432 comments) says:

    geoirgebolwing & NK

    I’m not so sure the Judges would drop the sentence length back. Firstly don’t certain crimes have minimum sentence lengths and secondly if they did it so blatantly –ie. reduce it to a third , I think the public would be” up in arms”. I can see where they could reduce them a bit but I cannot see it happening across the board.

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  8. nasska (11,579 comments) says:

    ….”Just make sentences longer if you think that’s what society needs. No need to piss around with bullshit like 3 strikes and abolishing parole”….

    Parliament can set whatever sentences it sees fit but if the judges refuse point blank to increase the tariff it is all fairy dust to the victims, current & future. If confirmation of this is ever required witness the wailing over three strikes which was the only way to push the judiciary into the real world.

    LWOP has been available as a sentence for a while now yet still unused.

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  9. duggledog (1,559 comments) says:

    Stephen Franks, the greatest PM New Zealand never had.

    Whatever it costs to incarcerate these rock apes for longer, the savings to the public purse would far far higher. Fewer illegitimate children, fewer lawyers, police to chase them around, court costs, welfare payments etc etc etc.

    Career criminals commit the vast majority of the crime and cost the soft liberal taxpayers a fortune.

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  10. Harriet (4,975 comments) says:

    The prison union and prison management will want to keep parole — as it gets the prisoners to do their job for them – maintaining the order in a prison. Good behaviour gets them parole.

    But the maintaining of order in a prison is the responsability of the prison management — and not the role of court judges or prisoners.

    They don’t have an arguement.

    There are a lot of misconceptions about prisons.

    1. They were never invented as a last resort.

    2. First resorts are known to work.

    3. Prisoner to prisoner communication is not vital. Jailer to prisoner communication is vital. Japan’s prisons operate like this.

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  11. Distilled essence of NZ (85 comments) says:

    “Prisoner to prisoner communication is not vital. Jailer to prisoner communication is vital.”

    Wow, so solitary confinement for all. Hello psychosis and suicide. Fact – most prisoners have a mental health disorder of one form or another. Also, most when they go to jail will be suffering withdrawals from one substance or another. The combination of that with solitary confinement would be disastrous.

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  12. GJKiwi (175 comments) says:

    Interesting that, the statistics show something is very sadly wrong in the US. In 1970, the US population was of the order of 200 million and the prison population was 300,000. Now, the US population is just over 300 million and the prison population is 2.3 million! Are you trying to tell me that the rate of offending in the US is now 7.6 times greater than it was in 1970? I find that very hard to believe. So, let us ask, considering the Association of Criminals and Thieves has many criminals in its ranks, does this apply to them as well? Should we be tougher on John Banks, David Garrett and the others in the ACT party who have committed crimes? Interestingly, the Judges set sentences based on past sentencing. How is it that a crime committed by one person is suddenly receives three times the punishment that it did previously? In line with what Parliament might mandate, the judge might increase it slightly, or even significantly more, but then for some reason people think that it should be 10 times as long. Once again, at election, someone plays the crime card. Oh dear. Seriously, a person’s previous offending or lack there of should be examined at both sentencing time and when they become eligible for parole, and then that will mean that they stay put, based on clear cut rules. If someone has a history of a certain type of offending, provide a clear set of rules that make further confinement mandatory, and have a review panel for very serious offending above the normal Parole board. That would make much more sense.
    Also, according to ACT’s previous policy, John Banks, on his third conviction, should be put away for quite a while, considering the seriousness of his latest conviction. Is Stephen Franks in favour of this? Probably not.

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  13. Harriet (4,975 comments) says:

    “…..“Prisoner to prisoner communication is not vital. Jailer to prisoner communication is vital.”

    Wow, so solitary confinement for all. Hello psychosis and suicide……”

    Not in short stay prisons.

    NSW has weekend detention -in friday at 6pm and out sunday at 9pm. You can get out at 6pm if you do prison work. Most are released at 6pm as they want ‘those 3 hrs’ to themselves before they go back to their jobs on Monday.

    No one will kill themselves if they can’t talk to others for a matter of just a few days or weeks.

    People should be going to jail for their annual holidays – with one week off for good behaviour. 17 people can then be jailed each year for the price of 1 prisoner being jailed for one whole year.

    Most minor crimes by working people would soon stop.

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  14. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    I still support the concept of Parole, but after 1/3 of a sentence seems awfully short.

    We need to incentivise good behavior and genuine efforts to reform while in lock-up, and perhaps additional disincentives to bad behavior. Without some form of early release there is really no reason for a “crim” to steer towards the right path.

    Good behavior: Completing drug & alcohol programs, joining ‘at work’ schemes like gorse clearing, menial labour tasks, extramural education programs, job training schemes.

    Bad behavior: Violence towards other prisoners, prison staff or visitors, disobedience, possession of contraband, etc.

    This needs to be coupled with much better post-release conditions as well, better monitoring to reduce re-offending, and also genuine opportunities for those that wish to reform (like subsidies to employers to take on ex-cons in low risk working environments).

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  15. Harriet (4,975 comments) says:

    Edit:

    “…People should be going to jail for their annual holidays – with one week off for good behaviour….”

    It should have been “People should be going to jail for their annual holidays – with one week off for doing prison work.”

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  16. Harriet (4,975 comments) says:

    “….Bad behavior: Violence towards other prisoners, prison staff or visitors,……possession of contraband,s…”

    All are criminal offences.

    They are not soley matters of parole or matters for prison management and parole boards – but seperate charges.

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  17. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    “All are criminal offences.

    They are not soley matters of parole – but seperate charges.”

    Yes but the severity of these types of incidents is quite different. Imagine demerit points for having cigarettes found in your cell, or mouthing off at a guard, or spitting at another inmate. These would not normally mean any additional charges for an inmate surely!

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  18. Nigel Kearney (1,019 comments) says:

    It is just semantics whether the supervision period is treated as part of the sentence or added on after the sentence is served. What is not semantics is whether the actual length of incarceration depends only on the court sentence or also depends on behaviour while in prison.

    The people who have the unpleasant job of working in our prisons would prefer there be some incentive to behave well while inside. It’s even possible that in some cases behaviour in prison becomes a habit that continues outside. Of course this all relies on the parole board making wise decisions about who to release and who to keep in, and it may be too much to hope they will ever start doing that.

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  19. YesWeDid (1,048 comments) says:

    ‘the cosy major party consensus that has fostered our high rates of serious violent and youth crime.’

    So despite the fact both of our major parties keep trying to out do each other to ‘get tough on crime’ with ever increasing sentences and more prisons being built somehow Stephen Franks thinks there is a ‘cosy consensus’ that actually helps create crime.

    Reducing crime is a complex issue that requires complex solutions, not just the standard knee-jerk response of ‘let’s lock them up longer’.

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  20. nasska (11,579 comments) says:

    ….”Reducing crime is a complex issue that requires complex solutions, not just the standard knee-jerk response of ‘let’s lock them up longer’.”….

    It’s possible. Still, locking them up for longer will at least protect the public they prey on until the experts come up with their next load of touchy-feely crap.

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  21. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    Frank’s comment is simply about a philosophical view rather than whether the policy provides better outcomes. Incarceration of more and more people for longer periods is populist policy but whether it is effective is debatable.

    I would much prefer a greater focus on restitution and compensation of victims being incorporated into the sentencing process. I would like to see look through provisions on family trusts for white collar criminals rather than longer prison sentences.

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  22. SGA (1,069 comments) says:

    Some attribute the long drop in crime rates in the US, for example, at least partially to the increased deterrence of sentencing certainty.

    Some attribute….at least partially …
    Likely translation – there are no convincing data to support the idea that an increased deterrence of sentencing certainty has, of itself, been an important factor. Maybe, maybe not.

    There is a good research consensus that severity of sentencing has much less deterrent power than speed and certainty of detection, conviction and punishment.

    Of those three, certainty of detection and conviction would seem the most important, wouldn’t you think?

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  23. ObligatoryMarxist (37 comments) says:

    Why not just shoot anyone who’s committed any crime, anywhere? Oh, you’ve stolen a car? *BLAM* Ran a red light? *BLAM* Kid steals some pic-n-mix from the supermarket? *BLAM*. Yep, that’ll certainly solve all our crime problems. After all, when someone smokes dope or gets involved in a fight, that’s because they’re evil right? Criminal down to the bone! Nothing to do with social pressures atall, we’re all just floating islands with no social influence whatsoever!

    Or, y’know, crime is a result of economic desperation and the destruction of communal ideals. But no, just easier to shoot/lock up all the poor people. After all, McVicar’s the ‘Sheriff’, right? the Sheriff’s always the good guy!

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  24. Berend de Boer (1,711 comments) says:

    The biggest problem in the US is locking people up for things like possessing illegal molecules, and government fees they cannot pay. So we need to be very careful to what categories we apply harsh sentences, else people get into a downward spiral very quickly. I.e. from traffic infringement, to can’t pay, to being locked up, upon release, find out you have been fired from your job, and descending into criminality.

    And instead of just locking people up, can we put them in a place where they have to work for a living? I.e. farm their own food? If you don’t, you die?

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  25. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    The first flaw in Franks thinking is this.

    A 4 year prison sentence with no parole is the same as 6 years with parole. So ending parole AND reducing sentences does not reduce recidivism.

    And the second is in the management of prisoners. If there is no parole as a carrot for good behaviour the only tool left is the stick – of laying further charges against prisoners – and add time to their sentence. Thus longer prison sentences and the associated cost.

    As has been noted – in 1970, the US population was of the order of 200 million and the prison population was 300,000. Now, the US population is just over 300 million and the prison population is 2.3 million.

    It is not a policy to emulate.

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  26. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    The current policy emphasis is in line with the investment approach in welfare and is preferable.

    If prisoners know having a job lined up is a credit when seeking parole – they will do work training. Then they can do work release from prison to qualify for parole.

    I would also make home detention with work release while on parole more common.

    For some prisoners, as it is on welfare, there are drug and alcohol issues that inhibit work readiness – so successful completion of treatment programmes would/should be (some already are) provided along with work training.

    The most important thing on prisoner release is work and housing. A reinforcement of this is developing a savings regime (something home detention would develop).

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  27. Ross12 (1,432 comments) says:

    No SPC — A person with a 6 year sentence can come up for parole after 2years ( 1/3 rd of the sentence)

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

    We have attracted a lot of very dumb trolls over the past wee while… Where to start?

    Franks is quite right: certainty of detection and arrest is the best deterrent…while rehabilitation is one of the goals of prison, its primary function is to keep society protected from the inmates, and that certainly is the major purpose of 3S…if it deters as well – as it seems to be doing- (5000 odd first strikers but only 40 second strikers) so much the better..”short sharp shock” sentences sound great in theory, but don’t actually work very well.

    Some newbie above raised the old chestnut about poverty causing crime…not only is there no evidence at all to support that theory, there is a wealth of evidence – in different countries and over different eras – which shows there is no connection at all between unemployment and violent crime.

    Here is some: in 1932, in the depths of the depression, we had food riots in Auckland. People were literally starving. The crime rate was completely static. In the last years of Helen Clarks rule we had what is considered to be full employment (about 4.5%). Rather than falling – as it should have been if the theory was correct – violent crime was still rising.

    In 2009, in the depths of the global financial crisis in the US, unemployment rose sharply (16% in California, at its worst) but crime rates stayed the same, despite confident predictions from the pundits that it would soar.

    Post sentence supervision instead of parole sounds like a good idea…but best of luck getting it past the Nats, particularly without Collins as Justice Minister or in the cabinet.

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  29. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    Ross12, so is Franks proposing to reduce a 6 year sentence to a 2 year sentence? If not then it is a major increase in prison population numbers.

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  30. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    DG, certainty of detection and arrest as the best deterrent is not a point of contention – and never has been in any law and order debate.

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

    I tend to avoid sentencing debates so much because that isn’t really an area that interests me.  So long as the process is fair the debate over how long they serve isn’t so important to me.

    As always, though, I do like to chime in with corrections or additions!

    Firstly don’t certain crimes have minimum sentence lengths

    No, they don’t in NZ.  And that is one sentencing policy that I would oppose.

     A person with a 6 year sentence can come up for parole after 2years ( 1/3 rd of the sentence)

    Yes, but the odds of getting it at one third are not great.  Many serve 50-70% of their sentence, and quite a number serve the entire sentence (or only a few months short).

    Also, sentences under two years are an automatic release at one-half of the sentence served, and from memory the large majority of sentences are under two years.

    Personally I do think that an abolition of parole would see a reduction in sentences, but probably only by a third, not two-thirds.  Also, I wonder if the prison officers would support such a policy?

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

    SPC: You would be surprised what the lefties try and portray as “fact” in the law and order debate!

    Obviously I watch the progress of 3S very closely…one of my biggest surprises is the small number of second strikers…although the Corrections Dept doesn’t keep these stats, I would wager that most of the 4,400 first strikers have served their sentences and are back “on the street”…the reason is simple: most of the sentences will have been shortish, and all first strikers are eligible for parole..Only the very worst will still be inside 3-4 years after sentence (the law came into force on 1 June 2010)

    I would have expected perhaps 25% to have reoffended similarly – meaning we would now have around 1000 second strikers – but instead there are only 41. As any criminologist will tell you, it is impossible to measure deterrence – more particularly, WHY prisoners don’t reoffend. One answer – and I have no evidence that it is the right one – is that the majority of first strikers have taken the warning on board: offend again and it’s no parole, offend a third time and its jail for a very long time, without parole. My colleagues who practise criminal law tell me that their clients are very well aware of the 3S law.

    No doubt one of our new commenters will have some alternative explanation…I’d be thrilled to hear it.

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

    And like DG, I also don’t accept the ‘proverty causes crime’ trope. It doesn’t.

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  34. OTGO (557 comments) says:

    If my hard earned taxes have to go somewhere let it be to keep more baddies in prison for longer. It’ll make society safer for me and my family.
    Reduce our parliament to 70 and use the savings to fund no parole.

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

    FES: Glad you can join this debate…the Prison Officers…what a useless bunch their union is! One of the reasons they opposed 3S is that it means they would have more bad bastards to deal with!! In other words, they’d rather they be running around outside bashing robbing and raping the public!!

    And you of course are the perfect person to ask: do you find your criminal clients have a good knowledge of 3S? What percentage would you say understand at least the basics?

    It’s amazing how the “poverty causes crime” theory keeps getting airplay isn’t it? When all the evidence contradicts the theory…

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  36. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    DG, who keeps the stats as to the number of those on the second strike?

    One factor in the number of those getting a second or third strike is judicial discretion to discharge to prevent this impact.

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

    do you find your criminal clients have a good knowledge of 3S?

    No, it generally doesn’t even register until I bring it to their attention, and then it is often a surprise.  Once they have been sentenced for a strike offence, however, they are definitely aware of it!  That may explain why there hasn’t been a lot of second strikes.

    Of course, it might be that my clients are particularly ignorant, so other counsel on this forum may have other experiences.

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  38. SGA (1,069 comments) says:

    David Garrett at 11:25 am

    I would have expected perhaps 25% to have reoffended similarly – meaning we would now have around 1000 second strikers – but instead there are only 41.

    Agreed, less than 1% does seem low. Without knowing the historical rates, it’s a little hard to know how to assess it. Are such data kept in such a way to make such comparisons impossible? Just curious.

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

    One factor in the number of those getting a second or third strike is judicial discretion to discharge to prevent this impact.

    That is unlikely, spc, as the offences contained within the 3 Strikes section are sufficiently serious as to have discharges (either without conviction or from a strike) very rarely. 

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  40. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    DG, it is not poverty itself that causes higher crime rates. But FBI research on comparative crime stats indicated that it was the correlation of two factors – inequality in the society related to ethnic disadvantage. Mono-cultural societies that were more egalitarian had lower crime rates.

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

    SPC: the Justice Ministry does…on an appallingly bad website which is the opposite of user friendly…just google “three strikes New Zealand” and it will pop up for you…You really have to work to get the most basic of answers from it…

    There is a whole lot of stuff it doesn’t record…such as what the offences are, and who went to prison…SST released a paper – David posted it here the other day – which breaks them down more…Those stats are the result of patient OIA requests by me and others.

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  42. soundhill1 (241 comments) says:

    @David Garrett: “In the last years of Helen Clarks rule we had what is considered to be full employment (about 4.5%).”

    Full employment is when the Minister of Labour knows the names of all the 29 or so people unemployed, which had been the case in better days when we did not have to lock our houses.

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

    on an appallingly bad website which is the opposite of user friendly

    It is an awful website, and what is worse is that they know it is awful and are doing nothing about it!

    Try getting a staff member to use their website and watch the air turn blue!

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  44. OneTrack (3,114 comments) says:

    George – “Won’t this change simply mean that judges will sentence people to far shorter terms? So rather than nine years, with parole after three, the sentence will just be three years.”

    Maybe. But then we would see exactly what these judges are sentencing people to, rather than now you always have to do a mental calculation “ten years, ok he will be out in 3, etc., etc.”

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

    FES: It is a mystery to me why they wont improve the website…I lobbied Judith Collins hard – pointed out that being able to get answers like “how long did the average first/second striker serve?” would aid the cause of deterrence…She just kept repeating that it was perfectly adequate…The information in the SST paper that DPF posted should be readily available surely?

    SPC: surely you don’t accept what the FBI says? Surely every idea and piece of data from the Great Satan is suspect, if not automatically bogus? Or am I confusing you with another leftie?

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  46. OneTrack (3,114 comments) says:

    Scott Chris – “No need to piss around with bullshit like 3 strikes and abolishing parole.”

    Except the judges apparently are all left-wing knobs who persist in not reflecting the opinion of the people who pay their salaries – “They know best”

    The elected politicians can only use legislation to get these guys to get their heads out of the butts. Hence proposals like this.

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  47. OneTrack (3,114 comments) says:

    YesWeDid – “Reducing crime is a complex issue that requires complex solutions, not just the standard knee-jerk response of ‘let’s lock them up longer’.”

    But, we never actually do lock them up longer. The pollies talk about “getting tough”, etc. but very little actually changes.

    Three strikes is a positive example and seems to be working exactly as intended. But the lefties still want to roll it back. They obviously think we need more serious crime.

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  48. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    DG, you seem to be confusing lefties with Islamists.

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  49. OneTrack (3,114 comments) says:

    FES – “Also, sentences under two years are an automatic release at one-half of the sentence served, and from memory the large majority of sentences are under two years.”

    And we wonder why crime is so prevalent. Revolving door justice system. High five.

    I know, why don’t we sentence the crims for the amount of time the community think they should serve for the crime they committed, and then make sure they actually serve that time. Crazy concept, I know.

    Alternatively, forget the judges doing sentencing completely and just have a big wheel like they have on Lotto – if found guilty, spin the wheel to see the penalty. Which seems similar to what we have now, but would be much cheaper.

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

    SPC!! My apologies Sir…

    OneTrack: You have put your finger right on it…All the bullshit about our system being much more punitive than it was is just that: bullshit…In my maiden speech I mentioned a case involving Elton John’s manager when he toured here in 1974…He got into an altercation with Judith Baragwanath, and he ended up pushing her over…no damage done, no weapon used…he got a month in Mount Eden, comfirmed on appeal…

    As FES will attest, NO-ONE would get a custodial sentence for such an assault now..I suspect the “penalty” would be a fine which is never paid, or a few hours community work…

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  51. OneTrack (3,114 comments) says:

    SPC – “DG, you seem to be confusing lefties with Islamists.”

    Easily done since lefties seem to love Islamists.

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  52. Tauhei Notts (1,723 comments) says:

    Wine oh at 9.5 is correct.
    We must incentivise the prisoners.
    Those who diligently milk the cows must be rewarded, as distinct from those who, when given a chance to milk the cows, seriously vandalize the milking plant.
    The Corrections Department is one of Fonterra’s largest shareholders.

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  53. Harriet (4,975 comments) says:

    The elephant in the prison yard is that nearly all prisoners in western jails are fatherless. Or spent fuck all time with their fathers while growing up. And nearly all children who do spend their childhoods with their natural fathers don’t go to jail.

    But addressing that matter is not part of the police/justice/prison/lawyer complex — as it won’t keep those people in their jobs. That’s why police never talk about it.

    Feminism pays the wages of policemen and prison officers.

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

    OneTrack: the lefties are desperate to roll back 3S..In my view the reason(s) are pretty simple: They know it is working, and they are desperately afraid that as it begins to bite harder it will be seem to be having a real effect…and they hate that, because the whole philosophy behind it (incapacitation by incarceration, coupled with specific and general deterrence) is anathema to them…

    If it survives this election cycle, it will be nigh on impossible to repeal, and they know that…

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  55. simonway (387 comments) says:

    So instead of serving a period in prison, then being released under certain conditions, with the possibility of being recalled to prison if they break the conditions…

    Criminals would serve a period in prison, then be released under certain conditions, with the possibility of being recalled to prison if they break the conditions.

    Only the period of imprisonment would be a bit longer, and the way the judge wrote down the sentence would be different (i.e. instead of “six years, with possibility of parole after four”, it might be “five years, with a supervision period of two years afterwards”).

    So the proposal isn’t to “abolish parole”, it’s “rename parole, and increase sentences across the board”.

    Why not just call it that?

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

    simonway: Because you have it wrong. The post supervision period would not have anything to do with how you behaved in prison…Now of course, to get parole prisoners have to behave, do all the courses, if possible such find a connection with their whakapapa etc. Post supervision would make that all irrelevant; in other words how well they fooled the Parole Board wouldn’t matter.

    Actually, I am being a bit harsh on the Parole Board…post Graeme Burton they have become much more risk averse…and not before time.

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  57. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    Does anyone know what supervised release after serving a full sentence means? What authority is there over a prisoner that has served their sentence?

    Is there a sentence for non compliance under supervised release?

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

    SPC: It is a new concept, so the detail would all be in the enabling legislation…I know the Californian system reasonably well..”probation” is a fixed time depending on the crime and sentence..it begins with a period of “hard parole” – can be up to five years, when the parolee can be instantly returned to prison – no involvement with the courts – for the most minor infraction, such as being 5 minutes late for an appointment with the parole officer, or a urine sample showing even minor traces of alcohol..then there is a period of “soft parole” which is more like the system we have.

    I assume the Conservatives would do what McVicar and I did for 3S: go to the US and study some different systems, and come up with a version that suited our society…

    But as I say, I very much doubt they will be in a position to implement such a fundamental change…most of the Nats are soft cocks, and Key is probably not much into supporting another “hardline” law and order policy…I could be wrong…once it was fully explained to him he liked 3S! His support was of course vital…all I could do was lobby him…

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  59. georgebolwing (869 comments) says:

    We had a mandatory minimum sentence of life for murder for a short while in New Zealand, until it was realised that this was manifestly unjust in a small number of cases: I recall one poor elder gentleman who had helped his chronically ill wife to die and had been charged with murder and faced the prospect of a life sentence. Not surprisingly, the jury would not convict him when such a disproportionate sentence would have been the result. In that case, the “just” result would have been an early guilty plea, followed by either discharge without conviction or maybe a sentence of to the rising of the court. Instead, there was a not-guilty plea, an expensive trial, and an acquittal.

    Thus, the Sentencing Act now provides that there is a presumption of a life sentence for murder, but judges have a discretion to impose a lesser sentence where that is warranted.

    This seems to be the nub of this debate; do we want judges to do their job, which is to hear the actual evidence, listen to the cases presented to them by counsel and then do their job, which is to dispense justice; or do we want allow the mob to decide.

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  60. Mr_Blobby (178 comments) says:

    Just having my say.

    1. Three strikes should have included class A drugs, because of the links to violence and other Crimes.

    2. We should be using minimum sentences not maximum.So the noddy Dudges have less choice.

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

    GeorgeB: You greatly oversimplify matters…and present only two alteratnives: Judges having absolute discretion, and “justice by the mob.”

    Firstly, I want to make it clear that I agree with there being flexibility enough not to impose a life sentence in cases such as you describe. As far as I know, there have only been two such cases since that amendment to the Sentencing Act, and both were as you describe.

    Under 3S Judges have considerable discretion – at EVERY stage…Stage one of course, it is entirely up to the Judge what sentence to give, although due to the seriousness of the “strike” offences it will usually be prison. The villain is also very likely to have offended similarly before. First strikers are eligible for parole.

    At second strike, how long the villain serves is entirely up to the Judge…if he says four years, four years is what will be served, no parole.

    Only at stage 3 is sentencing discretion curtailed, in that the Judge is required to impose the maximum sentence for the offence in question, to be served in full. There is STILL the possibility of parole being available if the sentencing Judge – or the Court of Appeal – finds it would be “manifestly unjust” to have to serve the full sentence.

    Hardly a system where “the mob decides”

    Mr Blobby: I wanted 3S to include P manufacture, because I learned from the cops that in almost all cases of the worst serious violence, P was involved somewhere. I was overruled. In any case, the Nats probably wouldn’t have gone for it.

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  62. nasska (11,579 comments) says:

    georgebolwing

    ….” or do we want allow the mob to decide.”…..

    Since it is the “mob” who pays for the circus & it’s the “mob” who bears the results of the judges’ cockups perhaps they should have a bit more say so.

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  63. simonway (387 comments) says:

    Because you have it wrong. The post supervision period would not have anything to do with how you behaved in prison…Now of course, to get parole prisoners have to behave

    Sorry, David Garrett, let me see if I’m understanding what you’re saying: under the current system, if a criminal is a threat to the public, he’ll remain locked up; under the system you and Stephen Franks both support, he’d be automatically released, and the police might have to wait for him to hurt somebody before they could recall him to prison?

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  64. Mr_Blobby (178 comments) says:

    How about this

    Serve your entire sentence and if you have behaved you are released if not your sentence is extended until such time as you learn how to behave.

    If some one is locked up they are not in a position to re offend.

    Get rid of the of the 5 star prison mentality, who cares what the rest of the World thinks of our prison system.

    Multiple prisoners in a cell, the only people who get their own box are the ones who are anti social and don’t get along with others. 23 hours in lock down one hour exercise.

    It should not cost $100,000 to lock up one prisoner. The staple diet should be rice and fish head soup unless the Family provide otherwise.

    Sorry but at some point you have to accept that some one is beyond rehabilitation. Drug dealers should just be shot, there would be no shortage of voluntary executioners. Send the invoice to the family.

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  65. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    OneTrack, “easily done since lefties seem to love Islamists”.

    Few lefties actually even like Islamists. The confusion occurs because many lefties don’t have a problem with Moslem immigrants. And some conflate the two.

    Modern lefties are generally multi-cultural secularists.

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  66. soundhill1 (241 comments) says:

    “Easily done since lefties seem to love Islamists.”

    Someone has to love them since they don’t seem to love each other too well. Well I am not sure if by Islamist you include Shia and Sunni or just the warlike ones funded by dubious sources.
    https://www.facebook.com/filmsforaction

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  67. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    soundhill, Islamists don’t do multi-cultural. Nor political plurality either. Then there is the problem that Shia and Sunni Islamist states do not include both groups of Moslems.

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  68. Changeiscoming (190 comments) says:

    DPF said “It would be logical to reduce a sentence length to take account of no parole.”

    Huh? No it wouldn’t. I will never understand the mind of a liberal.

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  69. Ross12 (1,432 comments) says:

    SPC — “Ross12, so is Franks proposing to reduce a 6 year sentence to a 2 year sentence? If not then it is a major increase in prison population numbers.”

    Franks is commenting on Garth McVicar’s proposal which says there is no parole, so in this case 6 years is served for the 6 year sentence.
    Any implementation of this proposal , if it happened, may increase numbers but it may also get some people to stop and think for a few seconds before they commit a crime. I assume it would only apply to new sentences.

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

    simonway: Are you serious??

    Under the current system criminals are almost all released on parole before their sentence end date…a tiny fraction serve the entire sentence.

    Under the proposed system, they would ALL serve the full sentence and after release, have a period of supervision, the length of which would possibly be a judges decision or it may be legislated for.

    Is that really so hard to understand??

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  71. soundhill1 (241 comments) says:

    @SPC

    “soundhill, Islamists don’t do multi-cultural. Nor political plurality either. Then there is the problem that Shia and Sunni Islamist states do not include both groups of Moslems.”

    That is the message of USA as it tries to bring about public support for doing to Iran what it has done to Iraq &c.

    Films for action is saying Gulf money/USA is goading the conflict between Shia/Sunni.

    Iran is largely Shia Muslim/Ishmailis but quite multicultural. It has more women doctors than men and is considering a quota

    https://www.facebook.com/muslims4peace

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

    Mr Blobby: You are quite right that there is no logical reason maintaining a prisoner should cost $100,000 a year…and of course that figure is somewhat artificial: it includes such things as building depreciation. I suspect the real cost would be much lower. I don’t know if anyone has done the “real cost” sums…they should be pretty simple: staff costs plus food plus electricity etc. divided by the number of prisoners…I’ll bet a testicle the real cost is considerably less than $100k a year…

    Although I am not the fan of Sherriff Joe of Arizona that McVicar is, there is much we could learn from him…for example, it costs him about $1 a day to feed his prisoners…he does it by buying supermarket stock which is past it’s “best before” date, but not the “use by” date…and Yes, I have tried the food…and I just took a random tray off the food cart – I wasn’t given a “special” one…

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  73. polemic (460 comments) says:

    Garth McVicar has some very good policies that appeal to a wide variety of voters.

    A vote for the Conservatives = a vote for stable safe Govt

    What we need is stable govt that addresses core issues and crime is a major concern to all Kiwi’s.

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

    Oh, and prisons shouldn’t be central heated…It always makes me furious when you hear stories of pensioners resorting to going to bed early to keep warm and save on the power bill…whereas prisoners enjoy a centrally heated cell…underfloor heating no less…

    Phil Goff once justified that to me by saying it was cheaper than repairing the heaters that the prisoners vandalized…very easy answer to that…

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  75. soundhill1 (241 comments) says:

    @David Garrett

    Whereas I have got through the winter with just a 25watt foot warmer, (though feeling guilty it should just have been hot water bottles) I have not been denied plenty of clothes and hats.

    Prisoners and all need to be more economical. But if we deny prisoners heaters and warm clothes and restrict doctor visits and sunlight and human company I think we are further engendering a philosophy of punishment of the sort that perhaps those prisoners were applying which got them into jail.

    I feel that prison needs to be a place for retraining and activity for the unfortunate which our market society has not offered them previously.

    Your philosophy says that if society is poor on jobs there should be less in prison. If society is poor on teaching reading and arithmetic/money sums there should be even less in prison.

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  76. Honeybadger (215 comments) says:

    Isnt going to prison meant to be punishment? David Garrett has made a very valid point about heating in the prisons, like you David it makes my blood boil the way the prisoners are treated. Take time to take stock of these sort of things…

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

    soundhill: We took a wrong turn about 50 years ago when we decided that “You go to prison as punishment not FOR punishment”..

    And who said anything about denying them doctors visits?

    Where you brought up in a centrally heated house? I certainly wasn’t…Our family was working class poor, but we had better than adequate food and were well clothed..I can remember my mother’s shame at buying some cheap “recycled wool” blankets that were a funny colour…this of course was in the days before everyone had duvets…Why should conditions in prison be any better than a 1960’s state house?

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  78. soundhill1 (241 comments) says:

    @Honeybadger

    “Isnt going to prison meant to be punishment? David Garrett has made a very valid point about heating in the prisons, like you David it makes my blood boil the way the prisoners are treated. Take time to take stock of these sort of things…”

    Solitary confinement is a punishment, but in excess it can take away mental health. Mental health issues are already very over-represented in prisons. Punishments of the mentally ill may only reinforce their illness.

    Please think of a prison more as a hospital. It is happening. Some vindictive types in society will always want to punish and will need mental health treatment, too. Conservatives and smacking.

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

    Well soundhill, you can rest easy…we don’t do solitary confinement any more…May of the worst prisoners – like Burton and Bell – have to have their own cell and exercise separately because they are so dangerous…that’s the closest we get..

    You are correct that solitary can send men mad..it was the principal reason the French abandoned their penal colonies…don’t know why they didn’t just reform them…

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  80. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    soundhill, how many of those not Shia Moslems are allowed to run for positions in the Iranian parliament?

    The Sunni Shia divide in the ME is both historic and modern – the latter as a result of Iranian decision to get involved in the wider region via military support for Shia groups in other states.

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  81. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    Ross12, Franks wrote that with no parole “judges could afford to reduce sentence lengths”.

    Apparently for sentences under 2 years parole at completion of half the sentence is normal, for others after 1/3rd of a sentence it is possible but for most unlikely to be a possibility until over 1/2 to 2/3rd of a sentence have been served.

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  82. deadrightkev (472 comments) says:

    “If both are in Parliament we might see an end to the cosy major party consensus that has fostered our high rates of serious violent and youth crime.”

    I have been saying this for months. I think their commonality can/will extend beyond crime as well. Its time for those in Act to stop firing pointless shots at the Conservatives for outpolling them and get together over the real enemy – National – Labour and all the others on the left.

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

    SPC: sort of right…All sentences of under two years are automatically cut in half – thanks to Labour’s Sentencing Act 2002..there is no parole application, they are just released at the halfway point… sorta the polar opposite of “truth in sentencing”…

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

    there is no parole application, they are just released..

    Although they are on release conditions, either standard or special, and can be prosecuted for not adhering to those conditions.

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  85. Ross12 (1,432 comments) says:

    SPC & DG

    So the question is –why play around and just the person a 1 year sentence ?

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

    Ross: Because under the Sentencing Act, that one year automatically becomes six months!! don’t ask me why they passed such a nonsensical law…

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  87. nasska (11,579 comments) says:

    F E Smith

    …..” release conditions, either standard or special”…..

    Can you give us an idea of what these conditions involve? Are they actually enforced?

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

    Standard Conditions are set out in section 14 of the Parole Act, nasska:

    (1) An offender who is subject to the standard release conditions must comply with the following conditions:

    (a) the offender must report in person to a probation officer in the probation area in which the offender resides as soon as practicable, and not later than 72 hours, after release:

    (b) the offender must report to a probation officer as and when required to do so by a probation officer, and must notify the probation officer of his or her residential address and the nature and place of his or her employment when asked to do so:

    (c) the offender must not move to a new residential address in another probation area without the prior written consent of the probation officer:

    (d) if consent is given under paragraph (c), the offender must report in person to a probation officer in the new probation area in which the offender is to reside as soon as practicable, and not later than 72 hours, after the offender’s arrival in the new area:

    (e) if an offender intends to change his or her residential address within a probation area, the offender must give the probation officer reasonable notice before moving from his or her residential address (unless notification is impossible in the circumstances) and must advise the probation officer of the new address:

    (f) the offender must not reside at any address at which a probation officer has directed the offender not to reside:

    (g) the offender must not engage, or continue to engage, in any employment or occupation in which the probation officer has directed the offender not to engage or continue to engage:

    (h) the offender must not associate with any specified person, or with persons of any specified class, with whom the probation officer has, in writing, directed the offender not to associate:

    (i) the offender must take part in a rehabilitative and reintegrative needs assessment if and when directed to do so by a probation officer.

    Special conditions are set out in section 15, but are not exhaustive:

     The kinds of conditions that may be imposed as a special condition include, without limitation,—

    (a) conditions relating to the offender’s place of residence (which may include a condition that the offender reside at a particular place), or his or her finances or earnings:

    (ab) residential restrictions:

    (b) conditions requiring the offender to participate in a programme (as defined in section 16) to reduce the risk of further offending by the offender through the rehabilitation and reintegration of the offender:

    (c) conditions that the offender not associate with any person, persons, or class of persons:

    (d) conditions requiring the offender to take prescription medication:

    (e) conditions prohibiting the offender from entering or remaining in specified places or areas, at specified times, or at all times:

    (f) conditions requiring the offender to submit to the electronic monitoring of compliance with any release conditions, or conditions of an extended supervision order, that relate to the whereabouts of the offender.

    The penalty is

    Every offender commits an offence, and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 year or to a fine not exceeding $2,000, who breaches, without reasonable excuse, any conditions

    and yes, they do prosecute for breaching of conditions.  Some probation officers are stricter than others, though.  Also, it is an aggravating factor if a person offends whilst on release conditions.

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  89. nasska (11,579 comments) says:

    F E Smith

    Thank you.

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  90. Slipster (175 comments) says:

    What’s so surprising about the fact that longer times actually spent behind bars lead to decrease in crime? After all, the confirmed violent criminals stay off the streets for longer. Ergo: they have less time to commit their crimes.

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  91. soundhill1 (241 comments) says:

    @SPC (5,508 comments) says:
    “soundhill, how many of those not Shia Moslems are allowed to run for positions in the Iranian parliament?”

    Here is how many are voted in:

    “Most of the Iranian Parliament is made of Shiites. There are roughly 20 or so Sunni Parliamentarians compared with the roughly 250 Shiite Parliamentarians. There are also roughly 20 or so minority religious members (Armenians, Jews, Zoroastrians, etc.). ”

    Reasonably in proportion to the 9% of Sunnis.
    http://www.answers.com/Q/How_many_sunni_muslim_and_shia_muslim_member_of_parliament_in_Iran

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  92. soundhill1 (241 comments) says:

    @David Garrett:

    >soundhill: We took a wrong turn about 50 years ago when we decided that “You go to prison as punishment not FOR punishment”..

    Should the punishment include what prisoners do to one another when there is too little supervision, e.g. a private prison?

    >And who said anything about denying them doctors visits?

    If you want to make it as bad as what happens to lots of people, heating &c, and can’t afford doctor/dentist.

    >Where you brought up in a centrally heated house? I certainly wasn’t…

    No, used a coat on top of the blankets.

    >Our family was working class poor, but we had better than
    >adequate food and were well clothed..I can remember my mother’s shame at buying some cheap “recycled wool” blankets that >were a funny colour…this of course was in the days before everyone had duvets…Why should conditions in prison be any better >than a 1960’s state house?

    It’s very cheap to get duvets and coats these days from op shops. Would you want prisoners’ families to have to supply the clothing and the food? I heard that in China the family even have to pay for the bullet when they are executed.

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