Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Three strikes (w/ updates)

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  • Stephen Judd,

    Because the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill sounds too draconian?

    Quite right. Blame carnival excess last night. I was thinking about how "three strikes" set the tone.

    Surely these sneering references to my wining a "king of the proles" competition cannot be a reference to members of the proletariat,

    Maybe you missed that magnificent portmanteau coinage "prolier than thou" - the suggestion is that it is something you aspire to, what with the repeated allusions to your rough and tough background.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Yes Lucy, they were all convicted and sentenced for offences which would have qualified them as "strikers" under the Bill as I drafted it, which actually had, as "strike" offences, pretty much the same list as it has now. I then thought the list a little too broad and narrowed it down; (see the version on the ACT website) the Nats have pretty much restored my original list of offences.

    Thanks for clarifying that - it just wasn't quite clear.

    This is a left wing site isn't it? Are you all champions of the "proles" or is that only the ones who agree with you?

    Oh, no, we only champion the poor people who agree with our every word and slavishly worship us as their benevolent overlords, naturally. I mean, why would we do it, otherwise?

    (Yes. That *is* sarcasm.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • David Garrett,

    Hopefully you're over the oil rig posturing - dressing up as some kind of Village People stereotype's hardly likely to get anyone to take you seriously, in or out of jail.

    I haven't a clue what you are on about..Although I guess back in Aberdeen in 1977 some of us did have large moustaches.. I don't really know why I am bothering with this...

    <quote>Maybe you missed that magnificent portmanteau coinage "prolier than thou" - the suggestion is that it is something you aspire to, what with the repeated allusions to your rough and tough background.<quote>

    What "repeated allusions" would they be? I responded to some dork suggesting that I was an uneducated redneck ...I mentioned my work history prior to returning to the Ivory Tower I had abandoned 11 years previously just once...

    But this is getting tedious...no-one here - ironically it seems with the exception of Lucy Stewart - is at all interested in debating the "three strikes" proposal...like all intellectuall lefties, you just KNOW you're right and those of us who disagree are redneck idiot bigots (feel free to add another alternative label)

    auckland • Since Feb 2009 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    like all intellectuall lefties, you just KNOW you're right and those of us who disagree are redneck idiot bigots

    This is quite possible the most inadvertently comical sentence I've read all year. "Like all intellectual lefties, you generalise about other people!" Really, it is quite priceless.

    On the other hand, if you had bothered to read Graeme's post and the subsequent thread, you would have discovered that some of us have been commenting on how comparatively sane the bill seems, in spite of the the profoundly regressive principle it is based on and the stupid name it goes by and the awful Californian law it appears to be based on and the all-too-often foaming at the mouth ramblings of yourself and your Sensible Sentencing Trust pals. The day I see your lot - ACT, SST - give this much credit to somebody's else's work, I'll convert to some especially ludicrous religion.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    What "repeated allusions" would they be? I responded to some dork suggesting that I was an uneducated redneck ...I mentioned my work history prior to returning to the Ivory Tower I had abandoned 11 years previously just once...

    But this is getting tedious...no-one here - ironically it seems with the exception of Lucy Stewart - is at all interested in debating the "three strikes" proposal...like all intellectuall lefties, you just KNOW you're right and those of us who disagree are redneck idiot bigots (feel free to add another alternative label)

    Well, here's a shocking suggestion - you could try *reading the whole thread*, not just the bits where people agree with you. I'm happy to debate, but you're turning this into something of an echo chamber (c.f.: not answering my question about why incest was still in there, despite responding to other parts of that post.) Otherwise you just seem disingenuous. To be honest, I'm not precisely sure what you're trying to accomplish here, apart from getting everyone to agree with you, which could take....a while.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    But this is getting tedious...no-one here - ironically it seems with the exception of Lucy Stewart - is at all interested in debating the "three strikes" proposal...

    Don't you mean: "the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill" are you an actual member of parliament?

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I actually have known quite a few who have done time!
    ...
    Have you actually BEEN inside a prison Lucy? I have, several of them.
    ...
    I had experiences during eleven years working in the oil drilling industry in several different countries that most middle class people have not had.

    That's what I was thinking about. You're not being labelled a redneck - your claims to special standing are being mocked.

    Actually, in its current form, I don't find too much to object to in the bill - I wonder whether the SST will feel short-changed. If you actually read through what other people have said, you'd notice that the consensus seems to be mild surprise that it's not too bad and far from resembling the American laws that go by the "three strikes" moniker.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    In other words, had a three strikes law been in force when those 78 people killed someone else, their victims would be alive today - or at least their deaths would have been from some other cause.

    David ,this is the flaw in your argument. There are a whole lot of other reasons whereby the victims might have been alive today, other than the three strokes law.

    For a start -
    The perpetrators might have had better educational, employment, emotional and family circumstances so they never started on a life of crime.
    Once they were in jail they could have had better interventions, educational and rehab opportunites, and more support once they were released.
    They could have been through restorative justice programmes which help all parties heal.

    The whole three strikes approach is so ambulance at the bottom of the cliff stuff when, if you want to be logical or evidence-based about it, there are a lot more untried or only partially tried approaches at the top of the cliff.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3218 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Sorry - 'strikes' not 'strokes' I hope the bill isn't bringing back flogging of prisoners.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3218 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    One thing you've certainly achieved here, Mr Garrett, is to engender a certain sympathy for Rodney Hide. While I'm sure that, once again, you've no idea what I'm talking about, you're welcome to take it as a compliment.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Sorry - 'strikes' not 'strokes' I hope the bill isn't bringing back flogging of prisoners.

    Don't worry, I'm sure it's on the wish-list.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    What would the two-wrongs-make-a-right brigade regard as the fence at the top? Conscription? Gakushu juku? Eugenics? Merging religion and the state? The DINA or BOPE? Or all of the above (Ingsoc)?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5430 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    The perpetrators might have had better educational, employment, emotional and family circumstances so they never started on a life of crime.

    And I'd like to add, that in Dixon's case, maybe some actual compassion from within the prison system, might have helped him to front up to the crimes perpetrated against him as a child. It is possible his dissociative personality disorders could have been addressed, if he had had the support and understanding that victims of serious violent crime aught. Victims of serious violent crime, especially when there trauma was inflicted during childhood, often develop behavioral problems, that can lead to there imprisonment.

    Mabe,The sensible Sentencing Trust will think up some practical solution to the not insignificant problems that occur, when victim's of serious violent crime, try to self medicate there Post Traumatic stress, anxiety disorder... On second thoughts, thats probably job better handled by grownups.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    But this is getting tedious...no-one here - ironically it seems with the exception of Lucy Stewart - is at all interested in debating the "three strikes" proposal...like all intellectuall lefties, you just KNOW you're right and those of us who disagree are redneck idiot bigots (feel free to add another alternative label)

    I think it's great that we have the opportunity to exchange ideas with someone who sees this issue so differently. I have read both versions of the bill.

    I think there are a couple of serious technical problems with a three strikes law. The first Graeme identified in his main post - a mandatory 25 year sentence may simply be too harsh a punishment for a particular third offence. Secondly, because there is no possibility of early release for genuine rehabilitation, the bill requires continued imprisonment even where inmates are no longer likely to re-offend, even where they did not 'deserve' a 25 year sentence on purely retributive grounds.

    Another set of objections are structural. I have a friend who works with offenders thought to have a moderate risk of recidivism, and she's mentioned how most report backgrounds of criminal neglect and serious emotional and physical abuse. I don't believe it's a platitude to say that the lives of some offenders are shaped by circumstances out of their control, and I'm not comfortable throwing away the key in such cases. (She has also mentioned that a 10% rate of successful intervention is considered effective internationally.) </hearsay>

    I tend to be sympathetic to arguments from personal responsibility and retributive punishment. The idea of someone 'choosing' a life of serious offending makes me angry, and I'll admit that part of me thinks it would be a good idea to lock recidivist violent offenders up until they change (shades of A Clockwork Orange notwithstanding). Another part of me wonders whether this does the problem justice.

    I suppose that I'm conflicted, but don't like to see these sorts of proposals made without at least discussing how the underlying social problems in our communities are going to be addressed. </progressive>

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Secondly, because there is no possibility of early release for genuine rehabilitation, the bill requires continued imprisonment even where inmates are no longer likely to re-offend, even where they did not 'deserve' a 25 year sentence on purely retributive grounds.

    There's also the problem of what you *do* with them once they're released - most are going to be in their sixties, minimum, and the chances of successful reintegration into society are going to be very, very low. Do we keep them in prison until they die, even if they otherwise qualify for parole? What about rest homes? How would the other residents feel then? How much funding will there be to help them make the very severe re-adjustment to society? If we keep them in prison, are our prisons equipped to handle elderly prisoners, who will be more vulnerable and require extra healthcare?

    I just don't see a lot of thought about these sort of questions among proponents of the bill, and since they're fairly straightforward consequences, I'd hope there would be.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I responded to some dork

    no-one here - ironically it seems with the exception of Lucy Stewart - is at all interested in debating

    We need a word for this, we really do. "Irony" just doesn't seem sufficient.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Do we keep them in prison until they die, even if they otherwise qualify for parole? What about rest homes? How would the other residents feel then?

    Perhaps they'll be forced to take the law into their own hands, as happened in Owen Marshall's excellent gothic short story "The Rule of Jenny Pen". If anyone's interested, it can be found in the collection _Tomorrow We save the Orphans.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I think there are a couple of serious technical problems with a three strikes law. The first Graeme identified in his main post - a mandatory 25 year sentence may simply be too harsh a punishment for a particular third offence.

    This concern turned out to be over-stated (my original post was based on the SST draft, not the bill as introduced). It's still a concern, but even on what would be the third strike the sentencing judge has discretion. The judge determines what the sentence would have been, and if it's less than 5 years, it doesn't count as a strike and they just serve the sentece normally. Prison isn't even mandatory (though is likely because the person will have a serious criminal history).

    Only if the appropriate sentence for the offending of 5 or more years does it count as the third strike, and the 25 years to life sentence is imposed.

    Secondly, because there is no possibility of early release for genuine rehabilitation, the bill requires continued imprisonment even where inmates are no longer likely to re-offend, even where they did not 'deserve' a 25 year sentence on purely retributive grounds.

    This is certainly an issue with the bill in its current form. I suspect the response is that having already served two 5-year+ prison terms genuine rahbilitation is perhaps unlikely.

    You will also have a bigger concern with the life *with no parole* aspects of the law - spending $50,000 a year to keep someone confined to a hospital bed in prison isn't the greatest use of money.

    If they were to replace the third strike consequence of life with 25 years non-parole with preventive detention with a non-parole period equal to the finite sentence that would have been imposed, I'd probably still be opposed, but I'd have a much harder time making the case.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Ha, this thread turned rather hilarious didn't it? A bunch of people relatively calmly wading through the practical implications of the legislation, before one of the lead drivers of that legislation weighs in, tells everyone they know nothing about prison as a deterrent because they don't have a background like his and then complains nobody wants to discuss the bill!

    That aside, my thanks to Graeme for his research, analysis and writing efforts to outline the real-world implications off all this (by real world I mean avoiding the shouting of political, media, and "independent political advocacy groups")
    (Plus thanks to Sophie for I'm not middle, I'm all class )

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    We need a word for this, we really do. "Irony" just doesn't seem sufficient.

    How To Troll Your Own Legislation In Nine Easy Steps?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Ha, this thread turned rather hilarious didn't it? A bunch of people relatively calmly wading through the practical implications of the legislation, before one of the lead drivers of that legislation weighs in, tells everyone they know nothing about prison as a deterrent because they don't have a background like his and then complains nobody wants to discuss the bill!

    Indeed. I genuinely applaud Mr Garrett's initiative in coming here to discuss his bill -- in the same breath as I lament his rather odd approach to discussion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    How To Troll Your Own Legislation In Nine Easy Steps?

    Well, Labour accused National MPs of filibustering the EFA repeal the other day, so it's not entirely without precedent...

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    I know someone who's in a prison professionally. And I suspect (but naturally can't prove) that if you surveyed such people they would think this kind of law is a bad idea. Not least because it will make their job harder and more dangerous (and hence make it more difficult to get staff).

    Sorry I've come late, but has anybody said what period that 72 people covers? Not that I think it works as a counterfactual; you have to assume there'd be no other murders in prison or extra murders committed by other people because the regime isn't designed to reduce escalating offending. Though admittedly, the actual people murdered in those cases would be different.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Apologies up front I'm going to make a couple of separate posts

    I still don't really know the answer to Lucy's question.

    How many of "the 78" would have been protected by the bill as it exists now. Not the bill SST drafted. How many of the criminals had served three 5 year sentences for violent crimes?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    The bill looks halfway reasonable, if you believe in prison as a form of deterrence.

    But only halfway.

    Some crimes are in some are out, who got to pick which crimes? Some are obviously about violence but others seem to be about culture (eg incest) - not a good thing in my opinion at least.

    Finally the bill still prescribes sentences to judges. that is the point - to take away sentencing decisions from those who have the most knowledge and experience in dealing with criminals and put it in the hands of politicians.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

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