Little wants shorter sentences for criminals

The Herald reports:

Minister of Justice Andrew Little has laid out a vision for criminal justice reform which sees sentencing law relaxed and a rejection of “tough on crime”-style politics.

His comments during an interview with the NZ Herald have been likened by one leading academic as the boldest political move in criminal justice since former Minister of Justice Ralph Hanan, who saw the death penalty abolished in 1961.

Little said “so-called law-and-order” policies have been a 30-year failure and locking up more people with longer sentences hasn’t made New Zealand safer.

Actually NZ has become much safer over the last 30 years and if Little thinks letting out recividist rapists and bashers early will make NZ safer he is going to get a nasty shock.

“One of the major challenges is to turn around public attitudes – to say that what we have been doing for the last 30 years in criminal justice reform actually isn’t working. Our violent criminal offending is going up.”

Only in the last two years. It is still much lower than the high of 2009. The trend has been down.

The proposed upgrade of Waikeria Prison is due to be decided next months by Cabinet and poses a huge challenge when it came in promising to reduce prison numbers by 30 per cent in 15 years.

There are two ways to reduce prison numbers – a very good way and a very bad way.

The very good way is to reduce offending and reoffending. Every Government tries to do this, and some programmes do work to reduce reoffending. However some criminals are recividist and nothing works.

The very bad way to reduce prison numbers is to simply let the recividist criminals out early so they can keep offending and bash and rape more New Zealanders. If that is your policy then it is very easy to reduce prison numbers.

He said other possible changes being considered were to the Parole Act 2002 and the Bail Amendment Act 2013 – considered two of the main drivers behind the prison population boom.

Changes to bail laws rapidly inflated the prison population by locking more people up to await trial, while the parole changes 15 years ago kept people inside longer.

A huge number of criminals commit further offences on bail. Those without a history of breaching bail conditions still tend to get bail. But giving bail to people with a history of offending on bail will again lead to more killings, bashings and rapes.

And the parole changes stopped serious violent and sexual offenders from getting parole after just one third of their sentence.

If anything will cause this Government to be a one term Government, it would be changing the bail and parole laws so convicted recividist criminals get to commit more crimes and create more victims.

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