First ‘third strike’ maximum sentence

A man has been sentenced to a maximum term (for the charge) of seven years in prison with no parole, for stabbing someone in the leg. If it hadn’t been a third strike offence it would have qualified for a prison sentence in the 2-3 year range.

It is the first time the ‘manifestly unjust’ out clause has not been invoked.

Two previous third strike sentences were not applied because the third convictions were both low end indecent assaults that would not on their own have justified prison sentences (indecent assaults can range in severity a lot).

This explanation of the sentencing gives an idea of the procedure judges go through to arrive at an appropriate sentence. This also shows how the judge has considered the intent of Parliament for three strikes.


Summary of offending

[3] On 4 January 2018, you were drinking alcohol with several associates at the Marton Hotel, where you were living while on bail. There is evidence you had been drinking for seven to eight hours. An argument broke out between you and the victim,
who believed you had stolen his phone. The victim was sitting next to you on a couch. You produced a knife with a retractable blade and stabbed the victim in the leg about 20 cm below his knee. This happened without any warning and produced a wound
approximately 2 cm in length, and 0.5 cm deep, into the victim’s calf muscle, which required medical attention including three sutures.

You were described by police who arrived at the scene as being belligerent, aggressive and intoxicated.

Appropriate sentence but for s 86D

[9] I begin by addressing the sentence I would have given you, if this were not your third-strike offence.

[10] The Court of Appeal’s decision in R v Nuku is the leading sentencing guideline judgment for offences such as wounding with intent to injure. Your offending falls on the cusp of sentencing bands two and three, which means that a starting point between two and three years’ imprisonment is warranted for your offending.

[13] Mr Mallalieu, for the Crown, and Mr Crowley, your counsel, agree that a starting point of around two and a half years’ imprisonment would have been warranted. I am also satisfied that a starting point of two years and six months’ imprisonment would have been appropriate.

[14] You have several previous convictions for violent offending. Most seriously, you were given a sentence of home detention for another instance of wounding with intent to injure in 2012. However, your violent offending has continued, and earlier this year you were sentenced to imprisonment for assault. Mr Crowley accepts that an uplift would have been necessary to reflect your previous convictions. You were also on bail at the time of your offending. I would have considered an uplift of six months appropriate in the circumstances.

[19] As you pleaded guilty, I would have been willing to give you the full 25 per cent discount for entering an early guilty plea.

[20] This would have resulted in an end sentence of two years and three months’ imprisonment. This means that you would have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, regardless of the three strikes regime.

[21] I will now consider whether it would be manifestly unjust to order that you serve your sentence without parole. I am not convinced that it would be grossly disproportionate to make such an order in your circumstances. Your offending sits in the mid-range of wounding with intent to injure. This is not a case where your offending is insignificant compared to a maximum sentence that was designed to cover a wide variety of behaviour, as was the case in R v Campbell and R v Fitzgerald, both of which concerned indecent assaults that otherwise would not have attracted sentences of imprisonment at all. As I have already noted, absent the three strikes regime, you would have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of two years.

[22] I acknowledge that your sentence will be much harsher than I would otherwise have imposed, however, that will invariably be the case for a third-strike offence. Parliament deliberately designed a harsh response to offenders who persistently commit serious offences despite clear warnings. I have not been presented with any evidence that would suggest you were incapable of understanding the two warning previous given to you in 2012 and 2014.

[23] The Court of Appeal has emphasised that the manifestly unjust exception will only be engaged in clear and convincing cases.
While such cases might not be rare, as many offences encompass a wide variety of behaviour, it would be contrary to Parliament’s intent for the courts to routinely invoke the exception as a matter of course. Some regard must be given to the fact that Parliament anticipated that some degree of disproportion would inevitably be involved in a regime such as this.

[25] I have reached the conclusion that this is not a clear and convincing case to depart from the full effects of the three strikes regime. This conclusion is based in part because I consider that you are at a high-risk of reoffending and there is a need for
community protection. Your previous three strike offences, and the pattern of behaviour they demonstrate, are very telling.

(1) Your first-strike offence was for the same charge as the present offence. You jointly assaulted a victim, along with your father, by repeatedly punching his head and body with closed fists. The victim was also kicked in the face. You also used pieces of wood to strike the victim. The victim suffered a fractured nose, lacerations to his forehead, scalp and one of his fingers, and a fracture to that finger. The victim experienced on-going problems relating to his nose and finger. The
pre-sentence reports for this offence described you as having little insight into the implications of your offending. The sentencing Judge described them as disturbing to read.

(2) Your second-strike offence, while for a different kind of offending, was more serious than your first-strike offence. You followed a 17-year-old girl as she was walking home. She either tripped or was pushed to the ground. You indecently assaulted her and forcibly pulled down her underwear while telling her to calm down. You then forcefully penetrated her genitalia with your finger. She screamed and yelled for help, begging you not to hurt her further. You also threw her cell phone away during the attack. You attempted to remove your pants with one hand while holding her with the other. At this stage, the victim managed to bite your forearm and fortunately, she managed to escape. Your offending had major negative emotional impacts on the victim. The pre-sentence report for this offence described you as reluctant to even discuss the incident. It also concluded there was no evidence of remorse and that you displayed no emotion.

[26] While your previous three strike offences were for different charges, they both share a common feature with your present offending; that is the fact that in every case you instigated the offending without warning. It is equally disturbing that the presentence reports for both of your previous “strike” offences record your lack of remorse and insight into your actions. Thankfully, you now appear to be beginning to understand that you have a problem. Nevertheless, your continued resort to violence while in custody demonstrates that you have not yet fully come to grips with your violent tendencies.

[27] All three of these offences occurred within a period of approximately six and half years. You continued to offend on each occasion shortly after the end of your previous sentence. You did this even after you were warned about the consequences.

[28] In those circumstances, it is fair to say you are at a high-risk of re-offending, which is confirmed by the assessment in the pre-sentence report. There is a clear need to protect the community from you; one of the central purposes of the three strikes regime. For that reason, I do not consider that it would be manifestly unjust to order that you serve your sentence without parole.

[30] I am sentencing you to seven years’ imprisonment.

[31] That sentence will be served without parole.

R v Waitokia 
21 August 2018
[2018] NZHC 2146

Suicide surge in increasingly crowded prisons

It has been well known for some time that prison space has been under pressure due to increasing prisoner numbers, but the Government does not seem to have acted with urgency. There may be a cost.

NZH: The number of people trying – and succeeding – in taking their lives while in prison has surged during the inmate boom

KEY POINTS:

    • The prison population went from 9273 prisoners in March 2016 to 10,712 in March 2018;
    • There was one suicide from March 2016 to August 2017 then six suicides in the next six months;
    • Over that same time period, there were 20 suicide attempts in the first 18 months and then 19 in the next six months;
    • Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says more is being done for mentally unwell inmates;
    • Barrister calls for inquests into deaths to examine management and mental health support.

There has been a surge in prison suicides and attempted suicides by inmates over the months in which Corrections struggled to contain a ballooning prison population.

It has raised concerns that the unforeseen blowout in prison muster numbers after years of “tough on crime” policies is extracting a human cost beyond that elsewhere in our communities.

The new data comes as Minister of Justice Andrew Little prepares to ask Cabinet to back the removal of the Three Strikes law, leading to National reviving its “tough on crime” call and a promise to bring back the law if it’s scrapped.

Details of the suicides and attempted suicides, revealed through the Official Information Act, show one suicide occurred in 18 months from March 2016.

There were then six suicides in the next six months.

Over that same time period, there were 20 suicide attempts in the first 18 months and then 19 in the next six months.

Of those, eight were female prisoners even though women form just 7.4 per cent of the prison population.

The prison population grew from 9273 prisoners in March 2016 to 10,712 at the beginning of March this year. The rapid rise forced Corrections to expand capacity by introducing double-bunking across the network and reopening old prison units.

Victoria University criminologist Dr Liam Martin cautioned against concrete conclusions from the data because of the small time frame but “the up-tick is clear”.

He said prison had much higher rates of suicide because of mental health issues, social isolation and violence – and was known to be exacerbated by crowding.

This adds the pressure on plans (or lack of) to build more prison beds, and also suggested changes to bail and three strikes laws.

 

Garrett condemns ‘manifestly unjust’, others condemn 3 strikes

In a guest post at Kiwiblog the person largely behind the three strikes legislation, David Garrett, condemns the way the legislation has been used in practice – Guest Post: David Garrett on manifestly unjust

The “unless it is manifestly unjust” out clause was insisted on by National as its price for agreeing to support the 3S law in the first place – without that, we would not have a 3S law at all. That notwithstanding, I now feel something of a dupe for recommending to the ACT caucus that we agree to it.

It was intended to be something that was very rarely used; we never envisaged it being applied in every case  of murder – all eight of them – which have now  come before the court as a second or third strike.

I spoke at every stage of  3S  passing through parliament, and numerous times during the Committee of the Whole stage.  The issue of the “disproportionality” of 3S sentences was raised numerous times by the Labour Party; it was raised and responded to  so often I wondered if they were simpletons.

I made it clear that disproportionality was the whole point of the 3S regime; it was intended  that consequences get exponentially worse for repeat offenders.  At no stage did any of the National Party speakers on the  Bill  suggest that “…or grossly disproportionate” ought to be explicitly added to, or implicitly understood to be included in, the “manifestly unjust” proviso.

The Judges of the Court of Appeal have  not only thwarted the clear will of parliament, but have inserted words into a definition that are not there, and were never intended to be there. In my view, this is nothing less than a constitutional outrage, and if it were occurring regarding a law passed by a government of  the left, there would be loud protests in the street.

Our constitution is very clear: the laws are made on one side of Molesworth Street, in parliament, and ultimately applied on the other side of the street in the Court of Appeal. Because the Judges of the Court of Appeal don’t like the 3S regime, they have rewritten it. That is nothing short of a disgrace.

Is it that the Judges of the Court of Appeal ‘don’t like the 3S regime, or that they don’t like it when use of three strikes is manifestly unjust?

I have seen in sentence appeal judgments that judges go to great lengths to ensure sentences are similar in like crimes with like criminals.

Perhaps the 3 strikes law is too prescriptive and doesn’t take into account the many factors that determine sentences.

Greg Newbold at Newstalk ZB: Three strike rule unfair – expert

Canterbury University professor Greg Newbold says when the law was introduced it was thought this provision would be used sparingly, not in every case.

“The judges are interpreting the law very liberally. The judges effectively are saying the law itself is manifestly unjust and they are refusing to apply it.”

He says judges’ refusal to apply the three strikes law proves it should never have been introduced in the first place.

“It was a ridiculous rule to start off with it. It made no sense, it’s full of flaws, it’s completely inconsistent with the principles of justice.”

Meanwhile National promises to bring back three strikes and reverse any bail or sentencing changes

National says it will reinstate the three-strikes rule if it gets into power and reverse any changes the Government makes to bail or sentencing laws.

National’s justice spokesman Mark Mitchell said today that if his party was in Government in 2020 it would reverse the repeal of the three-strikes regime.

It would also reverse any changes to sentencing and bail laws “which will see more serious, violent offenders on the street”.

And in social media National MPs and supporters are trying to blame Little and the Government in advance for any crime committed by someone on bail or released from prison on parole.

It looks like crime and punishment will continue to be a populist political football.

ODT: Law changes a risk and challenge

The rapid rise in prison numbers follows 30 years of public policy-making and the public calling for tougher sentences, which Mr Little believes has criminalised behaviour.

One of the major challenges is to change public attitudes, saying what has been happening for 30 years in criminal justice reform is not working. Violent offending is increasing.

Fortunately, Mr Little is proving to be one of the more successful ministers in the Labour-led Government and he will not be bowed by the criticism already coming his way from many angles.

However, the minister needs to allay public concerns when it comes to easing bail laws and sentencing options. Law and order always features highly on any poll of public concerns, despite being part of a society based on fairness and equality.

No-one wants sexual offenders and murderers running around their suburbs and that is the issue Mr Little will have to address. It will only take one serious crime by someone on home detention or on bail for his opponents to start howling at the moon.

Denials the Government is going soft on crime will sound empty at that time.

Little is going to manage any changes carefully. There will always be horrific crimes committed that could have been prevented if criminals and alleged criminals remained locked up. And there will always be people prepared to use crime and punishment as a political weapon.

Three strikes to be struck out in two weeks

The three strikes law will be repealed in two weeks, according to Newshub.

This was signalled last November: Justice Minister Andrew Little to repeal three strikes law

“Three strikes – that thing’s gone. You do get this picture of things that are quite cosmetic or things that were big things that can be unpicked pretty much straight away.”

“After eight years of being in effect it hasn’t made a blind bit of difference to serious offending rates which continue to climb,” he says. We have one of the fastest growing prison populations in the Western world. Simply put, it’s not working. We have to find a better way to reduce offending and keep communities safer.”

Today: Govt to repeal three strikes law in two weeks

The three strikes law will be repealed in two weeks, and Justice Minister will also push for sentences shorter than two years to be served as home detention.

The Government is preparing to soften bail, sentencing and parole laws, and Newshub can reveal it’s already discussing how to reassure the public in the event of a high-profile crime.

The Government documents also highlight the extent of the prison overcrowding crisis, saying if big improvements aren’t made in a year, there will be “a failure of the prison system.”

At the next Cabinet meeting in twelve days the Justice Minister will seek approval to repeal three strikes, and push for shorter sentences to be served on home detention.

Andrew Little:

“Repeal of the three strikes, because I think there’s an acceptance now that actually it just doesn’t work.

“If you have a sentence of two years or less you’re at the lower end of the offending, you might have offended before but you’re at the lower end. We can still do something with you. So it’s better that you’re out in the community.

Tova O’Brien:

He’s also planning to revive the last Labour Government’s sentencing council which National scrapped. It provides guidance to judges to prevent tougher sentences.

And people bailed on electronic monitoring will be able to count their bail time as part of their sentence.

Little:

“We’ve had thirty years of this, the only way to deal with crime, get tough on crime, get really hard, lock them up for longer.

Actually it’s not working.

He is also talking about a transition type prison in which prisoners with good records nearing the end of their sentences can live in a flat-like facility where they shop and cook for themselves.

“All it could take though is one person on bail murdering someone to unravel your reforms”. Little:

“Yeah and look, that’s always a possibility. It’s a possibility right now. We know there are people on bail who are offending right now.”

The Government is aware that their changes will need to be seen to be an improvement. They plan on preparing PR strategies for when things go wrong, as they inevitably will with some prisoners or people on bail.

 

 

 

Third strike punishment avoided, law to be scrapped

Not long after he started in the job Justice and Courts Minister Andrew Little indicated that the three strikes law would be scrapped. He has reiterated this after a judge has worked around third strike requirement in a case that would have resulted in an assault of kissing would have meant a compulsory seven year sentence.

Last November: Andrew Little says three strikes law will be repealed

The controversial “three strikes” law will be repealed next year, Justice and Courts Minister Andrew Little says.

Little said the law, which mandates escalating punishments for repeat violent or sexual offenders, had not reduced crime rates and failed to act as an effective deterrent.

“It’s been eight years since this got onto the statute books and it’s not making a blind bit of difference. It’s time to find something new, something different.”

Yesterday: Third strike offender avoids non-parole part of punishment

A mentally ill man who kissed a stranger has joined a select group to earn a third strike under a law that is marked for repeal.

Daniel Clinton Fitzgerald had to be sentenced to the maximum term of seven years’ jail for indecent assault, but at the High Court in Wellington on Thursday Justice Simon France said he would allow Fitzgerald the normal possibility of parole after one-third of the sentence.

Without the judge making the exception Fitzgerald, 45, would have served the full seven years without parole.

The assaults happened on December 3, 2016, and he has been in custody since then, so he should be considered for parole in early 2019.

The Crown did not argue against Fitzgerald having the chance of parole.

Without the three strikes law he would have got a non-custodial sentence, the judge said.

Fitzgerald’s mental health contributed to his propensity to carry out the same type of offence, he said.

Judge’s can void a third strike maximum penalty if they see it as manifestly unjust’.

It is understood two previous offenders have reached the third strike level of a law introduced in 2010. Both received the maximum penalty for the type of offence they had committed, but under the exception for manifest injustice, both escaped serving the terms without the chance of parole.

Raven Casey Campbell, convicted in Hamilton of indecent assault for grabbing a female prison officer’s bottom, was sentenced to seven years’ jail but was eligible for parole after serving one-third of his sentence.

Kingi Ratima, also in Hamilton, was sentenced to 10 years’ jail for robbery and had the possibility of parole after serving half the term.

A 100% record of not implementing the full weight stipulated by the three strikes law.

In part this is because there has only been time for less serious offences with shorter imprisonments to have qualified for three strikes, but it could suggest a fundamental failure.

That’s how Little sees it.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said on Tuesday that Cabinet had signed off in principle the repeal of the three strikes law, but it would be “some months” before anything went to Parliament about it.

A criminal justice summit was planned for August to talk about problems and possible solutions, with plans being rolled out after that, he said.

He has been told that in the meantime everybody involved was trying to work around the law because it was seen as so insidious and unfair.

Normally judges go to great lengths to come up with appropriate and fair sentences, and they are open to appeal. See this as an example (male assaults female). And this sentencing for murder.

The three strikes law is too strictly prescriptive, and it is unbalanced for those with records preceding the three strikes law compared to those picking up strike warnings.

New ACT on crime and punishment

One of the best known ACT Party policies is the three strikes law which aims to lock up the worst offenders for longer. There is some merit to this, and there are risks of unintended consequences. It’s too soon to tell whether it is an overall success or not.

What three strikes doesn’t seem to be reducing is reoffending rates. Our prisons are full and there are plans to expand them.

ACT MP David Seymour has had a look at this and is proposing a different approach to dealing with increasing incarceration (while retaining three strikes).

NZ Herald: Act’s new approach to crime and punishment

The Act Party will “turn over a new leaf” and launch policy to support prisoners after leader David Seymour witnessed work being done by the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Seymour told the Herald a new policy would be revealed at the party’s annual conference on Saturday.

“We have done tough on crime and continue to promote those policies – extending three-strikes to burglary … but we are also going to turn over a new leaf and start talking about being smart on crime.”

This sounds similar to Bill English’s data based smart targeting approach to a range of issues.

A keynote speaker at the Act conference in Auckland’s Orakei is former Labour Party president Mike Williams.

Interesting to see Williams speaking at an ACT conference.

Williams is now the chief executive of the New Zealand Howard League for Penal Reform, which runs literacy programmes that aim to get prisoners to a competent reading level, enabling them to read books to their children, take driver tests and have a better chance of finding work when they are released.

Almost 65 per cent of the men and women in prison fall below NCEA level one literacy and numeracy.

That’s an awful statistic. Poor education is closely linked to crime.

Corrections formalised a partnership with the Howard League in June 2014, signing a three-way agreement with the Ministry of Education, and has allocated about $100,000 to expand the driver licence and literacy programme.

A very good idea with a bugger all budget.

Last year Seymour joined Williams and Bill English at a prizegiving ceremony at Rimutaka Prison, where inmates who had completed the league’s literacy programme and learnt to read spoke about what it meant to them. Tutors who volunteered in the programme also spoke.

“What they [the league] are doing is very Act,” Seymour said. “They have got a private initiative with volunteers … they have had an extraordinary impact on people who have never had a piece of paper with their name and face on it before, have never been able to open a bank account.

“I went there because I was already thinking about the issue … I still think that people that commit three violent crimes should get the maximum sentence. But I think we can do a bit better on the first two strikes.”

Three strikes on it’s own was populist but inadequate.

Williams – praised as “legendary” in an Act press release promoting his conference speech – told the Herald that he felt very positively about Seymour’s interest in reoffending programmes.

“I am on a completely different side of the fence to David Seymour. However, I am impressed with the guy. He is open-minded about the problem of incarceration in New Zealand, and I have found him intelligent and forward-looking.”

Perhaps Williams could talk to some in Labour too then, if they are prepared to listen. It’s good to see him prepared to promote his cause with any party willing to learn and act.

In October, the Government announced plans to cope with a booming prisoner population including a 1500-bed prison on the current Waikeria Prison site in Waikato.

Those changes will hit the Government’s books by an extra $2.5 billion over about five years.

That’s nuts. A decent dollop of that budget should be diverted to rehabilitation and prevention, that would make a much more beneficial difference to the lives and families of individuals and to the country as a whole.

Williams has previously said that although successive Corrections ministers have supported measures to reduce reoffending, the prison population was growing because of harder bail and parole rules, an influx of deportees from Australia and the three-strikes legislation.

So it makes sense that much more effort and money should go towards reducing  reoffending – and addressing the factors that lead to offending in the first place.

ACT will be announcing policy on crime this weekend.

I expect (or at least hope) the Government will act on this soon, like in May’s budget.

Third strike sentence “grossly disproportionate”

Yesterday a man received a mandatory third strike sentence of seven years imprisonment that was “at the lower end of the spectrum of indecent assaults”, but High Court judge J Toogood said that serving a full sentence  without parole would be a grossly disproportionate outcome and manifestly unjust so ruled that parole could apply if appropriate at the time.

The Justice Ministry confirmed to the Herald that the case was the first third strike sentencing under the Three Strikes law.

From the Sentencing Notes:


[1] Raven Casey Campbell: you appear for sentence having pleaded guilty in the District Court to one charge of indecent assault.1 Because you have previously received stage-one and stage-two warnings under the “three-strikes” law, this has become a stage-three offence and you are liable to be sentenced to the maximum term of seven years’ imprisonment and to serve it without parole.

[3] In March 2013, you were convicted of receiving stolen property (committed in October 2011) and possessing a knife in a public place (in April 2012). At that time, you were also convicted of robbery and demanding to steal, offences committed in September and October 2012. You were between 20 and 21 years old at the time of that offending. On the more serious charges you received concurrent sentences of fourteen months’ intensive supervision and four months’ community detention, and you were given a stage-one warning on the robbery charge.3

[4] On 7 April 2014, you were convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment. That offence was committed only five months after the earlier sentences were imposed. You were given a stage-two warning. The terms of that warning informed you what the consequences would be if you were convicted of a later qualifying offence. It has not been suggested to me that you did not understand it or were not capable of understanding it, but I have no doubt that it was not in your mind when you committed this impulsive and foolish offence.

[5] The current offending occurred on 17 May 2016, while you were serving your sentence of imprisonment at Waikeria Prison. A female Corrections officer was standing in a doorway supervising prisoners in the kit locker, where prisoners exchange their clothing, towels and bedding for fresh items. Standing behind the Corrections officer, you grabbed her right buttock, squeezed it quite hard, and held on for about 1 to 2 seconds.

[6] You were told to go to the guard room but you did not make any attempt to move. When the Corrections officer went to leave the yard through a set of steel gates, you followed her, grabbed the gate, and asked the Corrections officer if you could talk to her. You were told to move your hand so the Corrections officer could leave and you did so. The Corrections officer was not injured but she suffered stress and has been off work.

[7] You have said that you really liked the officer; that you grabbed her as a bit of a joke and you thought your actions would be taken that way.

“Three-strikes” regime

[13] Mr Sutcliffe accepts that because you have been convicted of a stage-three offence other than murder, I have no option but to sentence you to the maximum term of imprisonment prescribed for the offence; that is, seven years’ imprisonment.6 I agree that is very harsh given that what you did was not the most serious assault of its type, but Parliament has determined that your history of violent offending requires a very stern response to protect the public from you and to act as a deterrent to you and others. It may seem very surprising that this consequence could be required by law for an offence of this kind, but that is the law and I have no option but to enforce it.

Sentence without parole Principles

[14] The law also requires the Court to order that you shall serve the entire sentence without parole, unless that would be manifestly unjust, given your circumstances and the circumstances of the offence.

Discussion

[17] The assault was spontaneous and not malicious, and the act itself was at the lower end of the spectrum of indecent assaults.10 There have been cases where offending of a similar nature or gravity has not resulted in a sentence of imprisonment at all.

[19] Overall, were it not for the requirement to sentence you to the maximum term of seven years, the need to denounce your conduct, hold you accountable and deter others and you from such offending would likely have resulted in a period of no more than 12 months’ imprisonment.

Conclusion

[21] Having considered all of these factors, particularly the nature of the offence and your prior offending; the early plea; your remorse and insight, and your rehabilitation prospects, I have no doubt that requiring you to serve a full sentence of seven years’ imprisonment without parole would be a grossly disproportionate outcome. After you have served one third of the sentence, it will be a matter for the Parole Board to determine whether and when it is safe to release you into the community. You should be encouraged, Mr Campbell, to take part in those rehabilitation programmes.

Result

[23] On the charge of indecent assault to which you have pleaded guilty, I sentence you to seven years’ imprisonment as required by law. I do not order that you must serve that sentence without parole.

http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/cases/r-v-campbell/@@images/fileDecision

On ACT’s 3 strikes for burglars policy

ACT leader Jamie Whyte has announced more detail on his party’s three strikes for burglars policy. NZ Herald reports Jail burglars after third offence, says Act.

More than 2000 families will have returned home from the Easter break to find they had been burgled, and Act says it is the only New Zealand political party offering a serious solution.

Party leader Jamie Whyte yesterday outlined a three-strikes policy, under which burglars will spend at least three years in prison if convicted of the crime a third time.

Fewer than 2 per cent of burglaries resulted in a term of imprisonment last year, Dr Whyte said, and the Act policy would change this.

“Burglary is a problem that requires strong political leadership. Act is the only party with a policy that can significantly reduce this blight on our society.”

There’s been a wide range of opinions expressed at Kiwiblog in ACT proposes three strikes for burglaries including ‘FE Smith’ with a warning for ACT.

It is sad that a right wing libertarian party has to adopt the policies of the most authoritarian UK government in 100 years, and a Labour one at that, in order to be relevant.

I seem to remember that ACT was doing its best in the polls when it concentrated on economic issues, which is why I have generally supported it.

The Herald summarises ACT’s three strikes:

• Offenders will be sentenced to three years in prison without parole if convicted of a third burglary offence.

• Juvenile offenders will not have their convictions treated as strikes unless they are convicted of a further offence in adulthood.

• The third-strike penalty may be overruled by a judge who believed there to be extreme hardship in sentencing the offender to three years in prison.

PaulL covers the main policy points at Kiwiblog and makes some comments:

Gee, there’s a lot of people talking crap on here today. Luckily some nuggets in there, which include:

  1. The policy only applies to those over 18 on getting their third strike
  2. The policy as proposed is retrospective. That’s a bad idea, and needs to be changed, we don’t want some political parties getting the idea that we agree with retrospective law changes
  3. The policy as proposed can catch someone for three offences all in one go, rather than needing a warning, then a repeat, then a warning, then a repeat. That’s probably also a bad idea and needs changing.
  4. A policy like this is no use without also increasing the clearance rates for burglary investigations. Is it a case of increasing police resourcing, or do they actually know who did most of the crimes and don’t have time/inclination/laws to deal with it? I seem to recall some suggestion that 80% of property crimes are committed by a very small group of people (the ones this law would hopefully lock up)
  5. We also need some attempt to address some of the prompters of crime. That is to say, many people commit crimes to feed their (illegal) drug habit or due to mental health issues. – so both decriminalise drugs, and provide better treatment options for drug and mental health issues.

That would be a reasonable and comprehensive policy. Where’s Jamie Whyte on that?

One comment was that “Three years in jail equals about $270,000” – would that sort of money be best to go towards more and longer sentences, or towards prevention, apprehension and conviction under the current laws?

ACT links:

Lawyer Graeme Edgeler has added:

I don’t agree that the policy is retrospective.

The law change being proposed is that those with the prior convictions for burglary must receive a sentence with a non-parole period of at least 3 years. The burglary for which this is imposed must be a burglary committed after the law enters into force.

There is no retrospectivity in this proposal.

Not saying I support it, and you could argue everyone should get at a formal warning, like the three strikes for violent offending regime, but it’s not retrospective.

Third strike and out for TU, third Cunliffe fiasco ‘unhelpful’

Rob Salmond posted Three ramshackle PR fiascos and you’re out, having a dig at the Taxpayers’ Union:

Three strikes – they’re out.

The same could be applied to Cunliffe. Not Salmond though:

The sight now of of a leading Labour politician, with the help of a blogger at The Standard, setting up a trust to shield substantial leadership donors from public view, is most unhelpful.

I am really pleased, however, to see Selwyn Pellett, Perry Keenan, and Tony Gibbs openly declare their generous support for Cunliffe’s campaign. I thank them for their generosity towards social democracy in New Zealand. All are substantial figures in the business community, and their support speaks volumes about Labour’s visionary plans to help new Zealanders add value to our economy.

He calls that post “Untidy and unnecessary” and describes the third PR fiasco of Cunliffe this year as “most unhelpful” – and then turns his post into a Labour promo.

Rob’s bio on his Polity blog…

Rob has wide experience relevant to public affairs. He has been a Parliamentary adviser to two leaders of New Zealand’s Labour party (Helen Clark, David Shearer), and through Polity continues to work with Labour leader David Cunliffe.

Perhaps Rob wants to continue to work with Cunliffe so is waiving his Three Strikes principle.