The ACT Party’s “three strikes and you’re out” sentencing policy is in a bill the Government intends introducing to Parliament on Thursday.
ACT campaigned on the policy and it is a condition of its support agreement with National that the Government will support it through its first reading so it goes to a parliamentary committee for public submissions.
I suspect it will attract a lot of submissions!
Mr Hide said a “strike offence” was defined in the legislation as the most serious violent and sexual offences, including murder, attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, serious firearms offences, rape and a range of sexual offences on children and young people.
While I think the policy is probably too inflexible, I do have to say I don’t think anyone should be allowed out after they have committed multiple homicides or rapes. But when you extend that to include GBH, firearms offences then the risk of a sentence that is disproportionate to the offence increases.
Under its provisions, on the first strike an offender will receive a warning from the sentencing judge.
On the second conviction, the result will be a jail term with no eligibility for parole and the offender will receive a second warning pointing out the consequences of a further conviction.
On the third strike the offender will received mandatory life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 25 years.
I wonder if an alternative might be that on the third strike you receive the maximum sentence for that offence? That way you don’t have someone going away for life, merely for a firearms offence where no one was harmed?
Mr Hide said it would not mean an immediate rise in the prison population because it was expected to take more than a decade for any offender to reach the three strikes limit.
“The intention is that, as the number of `two strikers’ increases, violent offenders will modify their behaviour after realising they are a single violent or sexual offence away from a 25 years-to-life prison sentence,” Mr Hide said.
I would be most interested to read any research on how effective this has been in countries or states that have implemented a similar policy.