David Farrar at Kiwiblog writes in A third strike on the recent sentencing where a man who grabbed a female prison guard by the bum was given a maximum seven year sentence but the judge used the ‘manifestly unjust’ provision to remove the ‘no parole’ requirement.
I have no problem with this sentence. A third strike is not just about the most recent offence but also the previous offences. He seems an unrepentant criminal and we’re safer with him in prison – even if the prison officers are not.
The purpose of three strikes is a deterrent, and this case should act as one.
But in comments the architect of the 3 strikes law, David Garrett, says that victim protection was the primary purpose.
The PRIMARY purpose of 3S was always to protect victims – deterrence was and remains a secondary purpose…if it occurs, that’s a bonus.
This guy is now in jail for about three times as long as he otherwise would have been but for 3S…the public is therefore protected from him for at least three times longer.
If his lawyer (who I know well) is correct in his view, this sentence is a real game changer for him and he will not reoffend when he is released. If he does, and it is his preferred crime of robbery or aggravated robbery, it is back to jail for him for seven or 14 years respectively.
The 3 strikes law was also supposed to keep ‘the worst of the worst’ criminals off the street, but that is not the case here.
When he committed his third strike offence while in prison Campbell had been serving a 3 year, 5 month sentence for an aggravated robbery, after being convicted in April 2014 and getting his second strike warning. His first strike conviction was for robbery and demanding to steal in 2013.
Garrett also said he was “quite comfortable” with the judge using the ‘manifestly unjust’ provision.
But let me put on record that I am quite comfortable with the Judge’s exercise of the “manifestly unjust” proviso in this case: this is exactly the kind of case it was designed for. No-one – least of all me – would be comfortable about seven years for what is unquestionably a low level indecent assault.
So Garrett agrees that in this case a maximum sentence with no parole for a low level indecent assault would have been manifestly unjust.
This is the first time a third strike sentence has been given. Time will tell whether ‘manifestly unjust’ is the except or the norm.
All of that said, the following must also be taken into account – things the MSM strangely didn’t mention: Campbell has a number of non strike violent offences to his name, including being found with a knife in a public place without lawful purpose; his first two strikes were robbery and aggravated robbery respectively, the second committed while he was on parole for the first; a probation officer assessed him as a person whose violence is growing worse, and portrays him as a real risk to society.
Lastly, as I said on Nat Rad yesterday, the Judge’s remarks actually neatly underline why the law was necessary in the first place. The Judge said that absent 3S, Campbell would have got 12 months at most. The Sentencing Act automatically reduces that sentence to six months, with parole at one third, i.e two months.
I believe the public were and remain sick of violent offenders getting two months in jail; the proverbial slap on the hand with as wet bus ticket. Most people – when they know the full facts of this case – will be quite happy with the sentence.
I don’t know about ‘most people’ but the judge was obviously quite unhappy with the sentence he was required to give. The legal fraternity in general seems to be unhappy with the law and with this sentence.
Law professor Andrew Geddis wrote in Three strikes and you still get out at Pundit:
New Zealand has had a “three strikes” sentencing regime in place for some six years now. It was controversial when introduced. It’s effectiveness is the subject of some debate (I urge people to read Warren Brookbanks’ excellent Greg King Memorial Lecture Paper here). But what is indisputable, I think, is that the judiciary really, really doesn’t like it.
The Brookbanks lecture is worth reading.
But Garrett took a swipe at Geddis:
Geddis’ piece is disingenuous as usual: Unless Campbell really acts up in jail, he won’t serve anything like seven years – he is eligible for parole in two years three months, so is likely to be out in three years at most.
Secondly, Geddis seems to think no-one can be a victim of a crime committed inside jail (read the piece)…The victim in this case was a lowly paid female Corrections Officer who remains badly affected by what happened, and had time off work as a result of it.
The victim said she hoped that the court would rule non-parole as manifestly unjust. From the victim impact statement:
 About three weeks after the assault, the victim provided a victim impact statement. She said she felt angry, frustrated and totally degraded by the offending. She had been left feeling vulnerable and uneasy when performing her work duties.
 When speaking to the pre-sentence report writer recently, the victim stated that she hoped the Court would allow you the opportunity for parole as you are young and need help. She said you do not grasp appropriate relationship boundaries and she would like to see you offered assistance.
It will probably some time before we get a number of third strike sentences on which we can judge how the 3 strikes law works out in practice – it can be presumed that the worst of the worst criminals will have lengthy first and second strike sentences so unless the offending happens in prison (as in this case) the worst won’t be out and able to offend again quickly.
So it is likely to remain a contentious and unproven law for some time.
Key points from the sentencing on this case: Third strike sentence “grossly disproportionate”
Full decision: http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/cases/r-v-campbell/@@images/fileDecision