Labour will repeal the three strikes legislation if it wins the election as part of the party’s drive to reduce the prison population.
You reduce the prison population by reducing offending, not by letting serious repeat offenders out quickly.
The three strikes law has actually seen a reduction in serious reoffending. The very thing the left often say its vital.
It is likely Labour will have the numbers to repeal it (if they form Govt, as NZ First won’t be there), but they will regret doing so. The reason is because their repeal of the law will be able to be tied to specific violent crimes in future.
Most law changes around parole or bail or sentencing have decisions made by Judges or Parole Board etc and you can’t say with certainty what the sentence would have been under the old regime.
But three strikes is different. It does give certainty. For a second strike you lose parole eligibility. It doesn’t affect the sentence just eligibility for parole.
So let’s take an example of how this would work. Let’s say Andy has a 1st strike offence for violent assault. He gets released in 2021 after Three Strikes has been repealed. A few weeks later he commits another violent assault. He gets sentenced to five years jail.
Under three strikes, he would serve the entire five years. Once they repeal it he will be eligible for parole at some stage after one year and eight months. And if he gets parole and commits a further offence in that period between early release and his full sentence date, then one can fairly and conclusively say the law change allowed that crime to occur. If Andy gets out after three and a half years and six months later kills someone, then the MPs who voted to repeal three strikes will be held responsible for the law change that allowed him to do so.
And there won’t just be one or two Andy’s. There are 12,000 criminals out there with a first strike offence. There will be hundreds who will go onto do a second strike, and who will then get out early on parole and bash, maim, rape or kill someone. And everyone of those victims will find out their crime happened because Labour repealed the law to give parole to repeat serious violent and sexual offenders.
It will take some time, but the backlash when it comes against those MPs who vote to repeal the law will be massive. They will have to confront victims and their families and explain why they thought abolishing a law which had reduced serious reoffending was a good idea.
So Labour and Greens will probably get the votes to repeal the law, if in Govt. But they will pay the price for it electorally down the track. This sort of law change isn’t one where it happens and is forgotten about. It will hurt them, make no mistake.
Remember this is a law only 20% of New Zealanders disapprove of. It is supported by a greater than 3:1 majority. The majority or plurality of Labour and Green voters support it. Now again that won’t stop their MPs from repealing it, but it will hurt them as the consequences become apparent.