Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: Three strikes (w/ updates)

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  • Bart Janssen,

    Third post and my real problem with the legislation.

    Hilary is dead right

    There are a whole lot of other reasons whereby the victims might have been alive today,...

    The bill supposes that the best way to prevent crime is to create punitive deterrents. In this case particularly vengeful ones.

    But the problem is not how do we lock people up better, the problem is how do we create a society where people don't want (or need) to commit crimes.

    By way of analogy, it turns out that in parts of New Zealand the best way to improve the health of the community is not to build hospitals or employ doctors, but to build houses. Pure simple statistically provable fact, so logically the best use of Vote Health is to build houses.

    The same issue applies here. Is this legislation, with all the costs involved and ultimately with the cost of housing a few dozen more criminals in jail (and I bet that will be the final number), is this the best way to reduce crime in New Zealand?

    My personal belief is that spending time effort and money in improving the education, health and living conditions is a better way of preventing people from becoming criminals than more punishments.

    For those that do commit crimes, it is better to spend time effort and money to understand why they individually felt the crime was their best choice and then spend time effort and money to teach them a better, more socially acceptable set of choices.

    I believe this bill doesn't help the justice system reduce crime.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    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.

    Yes. It's the exceptionless nature of such potentially harsh consequences I don't like - once the legal threshold is crossed it's twenty-five years for a crime that might otherwise have earned you five, regardless of subsequent rehabilitation or remorse.

    I suppose Garrett's point is that more lenient approaches inevitably fail to prevent some fraction of violent reoffending. The parole system has seen its share of high profile tragedies. There is an absurd frustration to knowing that our institutions are releasing people considered likely to re-offend and who are re-offending.

    So I might accept that, in some as yet undefined circumstances, a recidivist offender should not qualify for release merely by completing a third sentence of the ordinary kind. But without reliable diagnostic methods to screen and effective rehabilitative techniques with which to fix, I wonder what should we do instead.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    If these 'snob yobs' were South Auckland hoods, there'd be calls for the problem to be solved with a B-52 Stratofortress:

    Rampaging youths trash cars, homes

    Five teenagers arrested yesterday allegedly drove around Auckland on a six-hour vandalism rampage, causing more than $30,000 of damage to cars and property in some of the city's wealthiest suburbs.
    ...
    Sergeant Jason Lamont of Glen Innes police said the group - a 16-year-old and four 17-year-olds - were travelling in a white station wagon randomly targeting vehicles in Remuera, Newmarket, St Heliers, Kohimarama, Mission Bay, Orakei, Glendowie, Pakuranga, Half Moon Bay and Glen Innes.
    ...

    The arrested teens came from the suburbs affected, he said.

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

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I know someone who's in a prison professionally.

    I didn't know there was money in it! All this time I've been wasting, I should be off robbing banks and getting caught.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    I'm pretty comfortable with our jury system, and a system that allows judges who have heard all the evidence to ... um ... actually judge

    really?

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4859852a19715.html

    .

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    If these 'snob yobs' were South Auckland hoods

    Quite:

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    really?

    Yes. Why?

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

  • Russell Brown,

    __I'm pretty comfortable with our jury system, and a system that allows judges who have heard all the evidence to ... um ... actually judge__

    really?

    Yup. The American justice system has been bent out of shape by gimmick sentencing laws passed by cynical politicians. Sentences should be set by someone who has heard the evidence , not as a form of political marketing.

    When you combine that with sweeping prosecutorial discretion and plea-bargaining, you wind up with a system in which natural justice has been lost.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    < I'm pretty comfortable with our jury system, and a system that allows judges who have heard all the evidence to ... um ... actually judge</quote>

    There's something about having convicted musicians serving four years prison sentences for sexual violation whilst having name suppression upheld that goads me to uncomfortably question some of the judges judgment.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    But yes, whole heartedly, three strikes? Why not just change the county's name New Illinois...

    a little imagination from legislators could go a long way.Instead of Franchise deals.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Mark - a reason was given for the suppression:

    An interim order for name suppression was continued as the matter was to go before the High Court following an appeal by the defence.

    I read this as: the judge refused to continue name suppression, but having been advised an appeal against that refusal would be made, made an interim order so that the appeal wouldn't be fruitless.

    But yes, whole heartedly, three strikes? Why not just change the county's name New Illinois...

    a little imagination from legislators could go a long way.Instead of Franchise deals.

    Is the issue the name "three strikes" or the legislation itself? Because this is a vastly different law from any in application in a US state.

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

  • Sacha,

    a little imagination from legislators could go a long way.
    Instead of Franchise deals.

    Sure you're not thinking of copyright law? :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I don't like the title "three strikes" for a sentencing law. Partly because it is the same name as another, very different law, from America. No so much of a problem with borrowing from other cultures, more that its being used as a political marketing pitch. And thats not a serious method of dealing with a difficult problem. The problem being, that some people just don't function as part of civilized society, and how to best handle that. Shouting things like "Zero tolerance" also means naught.

    Not intending to use the Zoo analogy, I was thinking about the remaining Tea party chimpanzee, Janie, at the Auckland Zoo. She is unable to understand chimpanzee social protocol, or human. We saw her eating her own pooh. The Zoo keepers realize this animal's behavior is socially out of whack, so they provide as humane a lock up as posable. And, continue to grapple with the problems associated with domesticating intelligent animals. They don't just throw there arms up in frustration, and shoot them.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Poole,

    Did anyone happen to catch Backbenchers last night - admittedly not the best format for an informed debate, however - where Heather Roy played her expected part and crowed that the "Three-Strikes Law" (her words) would solve the problems that the corrections department is current having.

    How, I must ask? By ensuring that the extra parole officers are no longer required by refusing parole? Didn't Mr Garrett himself point out that there would have been less than 100 or so prisoners in jail due to this law, had it already been in place?

    Oh lordy-me, please don't tell me that ACT are simply pushing this bill to the populace as the magical Laura Norder Silver Bullet (tm) based completely on hype that they know is wrong? It's either that, or David and Heather don't attend the same meetings when discussing this stuff. Maybe the deputy-minister is too busy to converse with her junior colleages, but happy to trumpet the bills they have authored?

    That said, Chris Hipkins made a complete ass of himself when saying that the issues posed by paroleing criminals into properties near where their victims live are "overstated", Russell Norman seemed drunk, and Dunncula stuck to his bland, appease-everyone style of commentary, so Heather hardly stood out too much.

    Since Dec 2008 • 161 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    How, I must ask? By ensuring that the extra parole officers are no longer required by refusing parole? Didn't Mr Garrett himself point out that there would have been less than 100 or so prisoners in jail due to this law, had it already been in place?

    In jail for life sentences following third strikes, perhaps.

    The law does a couple of other things as well:

    * there is no parole on a second strike.
    * life sentences without the possibility for parole are mandatory for murder as a second strike, and available for murder as first strike.

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

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Didn't Mr Garrett himself point out that there would have been less than 100 or so prisoners in jail due to this law, had it already been in place?

    The critical question is how long it had hypothetically been in place for. You get not-many extra for the usual projection periods because hardly anyone has had time to serve three strikes. Then you go forward 20 years and it's exploded.

    The law does a couple of other things as well:

    One-and-a-bit strikes then.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The law does a couple of other things as well:

    You know the current state of this law well Graeme.

    Does this mean that we're going to be seeing more prisoners released later (either second strike, or murder on first strike) but with no parole at all?

    Releasing serious violent offenders into the community without the oversight of parole terrifies me a lot more than releasing them earlier, but into the oversight of parole.

    We do have a parole system for good reason after all.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    But Kyle the prisoners themselves HATE parole because then they miss out on the central-heating and TV-of-cutting-edge-display-technology.

    =|

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

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    You know the current state of this law well Graeme.

    Does this mean that we're going to be seeing more prisoners released later (either second strike, or murder on first strike) but with no parole at all?

    It may surprise you, but no.

    1. All released murderers are on parole for the rest of their lives. They get life sentences, and these do actually last for one's whole life (even if the whole time isn't spent in prison).

    2. All people released are subject to release conditions under the Parole Act for at least six months. This includes people who are released at the absolute end of their sentence. They cannot be recalled (there's no sentence left to serve), but they face the same criminal consequence for breaching release conditions (i.e. up to 1 year in prison).

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

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I should add: the time spent subject to conditions will of course be shorter on the second strike. Offenders who are paroled can be subject to conditions for the entire period of their nominal sentence plus six months. Without early release, it will be six months maximum.

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

  • Kyle Matthews,

    True! Therefore:

    "We should punish them by releasing them the day after they get put into prison, so that they feel the warmth and leisure of the prison system, but then get denied it and released into the harsh world of parole and weekly checkups with their parole officer."

    SST policy practically writes itself doesn't it?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    OK, so it's a limitation of parole for the mid-range sentences (less than life, but enough for second strike) to six months? If I've understood that correctly.

    Still not good, but probably not going to affect thousands of people.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Mark - a reason was given for the suppression:

    An interim order for name suppression was continued as the matter was to go before the High Court following an appeal by the defence.

    I read this as: the judge refused to continue name suppression, but having been advised an appeal against that refusal would be made, made an interim order so that the appeal wouldn't be fruitles

    I don't feel comfortable with this reasoning

    Is the issue the name "three strikes" or the legislation itself?

    The name obviously.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    An interim order for name suppression was continued as the matter was to go before the High Court following an appeal by the defence.

    I read this as: the judge refused to continue name suppression, but having been advised an appeal against that refusal would be made, made an interim order so that the appeal wouldn't be fruitless.

    I don't feel comfortable with this reasoning

    I seem to be making a habit of this: I'm not sure why. You think I've read the report wrong, and this wasn't the reason? Or you accept that this is the reason, but don't like it?

    People are entitled to appeal decisions they don't like, surely its reasonable that they get to appeal in a manner that actually makes the right to appeal worthwhile?

    You may or may not oppose the death penalty, but surely it is better that appeals against it are heard before the sentence is carried out. Name suppression is far less serious, but the principle is still the same.

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

  • Lyndon Hood,

    A-G's office complaining your favourite bill breaches the bill of rights?

    Solution: Change the BORA!

    After all, disproportionately severe punishment is kind of the whole point.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

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