The history of Life Without Parole in NZ

Many people may not know that the ability to sentence someone to Life WIthout Parole is very new in New Zealand. It has existed for just a decade.

The genesis is that National in 2008 campaigned on bringing in a Life Without Parole sentence for the worst murders. ACT has a similar policy and also a three strikes policy.

On 18 February 2009 the National/ACT Government introduced the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill which amended the Sentencing Act 2002. This had a clause which said:

If the court that sentences an offender convicted of murder to imprisonment for life is satisfied that no minimum term of imprisonment would be sufficient to satisfy 1 or more of the purposes stated in subsection (2), the court may order that the offender serve the sentence without parole.

This was separate to the three strikes provisions which got most of the focus, and was in the same bill. The provision is restricted to offenders aged 18 or older.

It passed first reading 64 votes to 58.

The select committee made significant changes to the three strikes provisions, but left the LWOP for the worst murders unchanged. It then passed second reading on 4 May 2010 by 63 votes to 59.

The committee stage was on 18 May 2010 and the third reading on 25 May 2010 by 63 votes to 58.

I’m glad Parliament did pass the bill and brought in the sentence of Life Without Parole, as no lesser sentence would have been appropriate in the case of the Christchurch terrorist.

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