The Dom Post editorial:
A man who groped a prison guard’s bottom has been sentenced to seven years in prison.
This absurd situation has come about because of a harsh and misguided piece of legislation – the “three-strikes” law passed in 2010.
The law says that anyone who commits three crimes from a long list of 40 must be sentenced to the maximum possible penalty for the final offence.
Raven Casey Campbell is the first person to reach a third strike. His offence was plainly an indecent assault – and one that caused distress and humiliation to his victim. Yet equally plainly, it was far less serious than many crimes that bear the same name, and entirely undeserving of a seven-year jail term.
Three strikes is deliberately about the consequences of repeated offending, not about just the third strike in isolation to the previous two.
Against this, the law’s supporters argue that its escalating warnings deter criminals. In fact, this is hotly disputed. The Court of Appeal calls the evidence for such deterrence “equivocal at best”.
Well a 62% reduction in strike reoffending rates is pretty impressive. That’s hundreds of fewer victims of violent and sexual offending.
A final warning certainly did not deter Campbell from his offensive, brief and highly consequential act.
No but the consequences may deter others and overall the level of second and third strikes is massively below what was the case before the passing of the law.