A win for victims

Stuff reports:

A bill to give victims of the criminally insane the same rights as other victims of violent crimes has been passed through Parliament.

Advocates of the Rights for Victims of Insane Offenders Bill had been pushing for the law to change for a number of years. Wendy Hamer, a survivor of a horrific attack, said it was “great news” after having so many people backing the change.

The Nelson woman said now it was about making the bill “not just words but actual action”.

The new law changes the wording of the insanity verdict from “not guilty on account of insanity” to “act proven but not criminally responsible on account of insanity” and gives victims rights, including being informed of what has happened to the offender, having a say on the offender’s leave and release, and making a victim impact statement.

This is an excellent law change. Can you imagine the pain it must cause to have someone slaughter one of your relatives, and then hear the words not guilty in court. The change in phrasing is important, but more important is that victims of the criminally insane now get rights.

More than 10 years later in Nelson, Hamer and then Nelson National MP Dr Nick Smith, launched a petition in 2018 to create a “double pronged attack” to get the Government to see sense “and to see that what they were doing was causing unnecessary harm”, Hamer said. …

Well done Nick Smith and Louise Upston for getting this law change through Parliament. An excellent example of a members’ bill which has a simple solution to a real problem. It was supported by every party in Parliament, which is also excellent.

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