Killing on bail

Anna Leask at NZ Herald reports:

Twenty-three people were convicted of murders committed while free on bail over a five-year period, say Ministry of Justice figures obtained by the Herald.

A further 21 were convicted of “homicide-related” offences committed while on bail.

These included manslaughter, attempted murder and driving causing death.

So 44 people were killed by criminals out on bail, over just five years. Tragic and preventable deaths.

Someone out on bail often is at their most dangerous. They know they are likely to go to jail when their case gets to court, and any crimes they commit during the bail period will not necessarily result in a longer sentence. Hence we have a perverse incentive.

Labour changed the law to make bail easier. That was reversed by National, but I think there is still more to be done.

People are innocent until convicted, but when they already have a criminal record, we can’t allow them to kill 44 people while awaiting trial. I wonder how many of those 44 deaths on bail were done by someone who already had criminal convictions? I suspect almost all or all.

The Bail Amendment Bill aims to change bail laws to improve public safety. One of its changes would reverse the burden of proof for serious violent and sexual offenders.

This means defendants would have to prove to the court that they would not be a threat to public safety if released on bail.

Under the present law, the police must show why defendants should remain locked up.

44 preventable deaths. We can do better.

Between 2006 and 2010, 69,087 people were convicted of at least one offence committed while on bail.

Of those, 7146 were convicted of acts intended to cause injury – mainly assault – 1132 of abduction, kidnapping, false imprisonment, harassment, nuisance or threatening behaviour, and 763 of sexual assaults or offending.

Also far too high.

I wonder what the stats are for people not given bail, who get found innocent – ie spend time in jail they shouldn’t have? Anyone know?

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