Posts by Anthony Trenwith

  • Hard News: Death Spiral!,

    I guess you have to feel some sympathy for them drafting a bill like this without the expert advice that the government gets (I assume) but for Becroft and Kiro to slate it in the terms they did, it must be quite a shambles.

    In a word: balls. I'm not sure what assistance is available for private Members Bills but any number of agenies out there (including Kiro's office) would have been more than happy to help.

    The problem, as Judge Becroft noted, lies in the definition of "serious offence" - anything punishable by "not less than 3 months" imprisonment or a fine of "not less than $2000". So it isn't a matter of what's included under this definition is a question of what's not included . The answer it seems is very little - stone throwing any one? Breach of a liquor ban (max $20,000 fine) would be included for example, as would just about every other common (and not so common) criminal offence. The effect of this, under the Bill as drafted, would be that the Youth Court's jurisdiction would be removed and the charges heard in the District Court along with adult offenders. No closed court with the public excluded, no warm fuzzies, just an adult approach to adult crimes - according to Ron Mark.

    The Bill also allows for young people to be sentenced to imprisonment (currently restricted to those 17 or over except for the most serious crimes). Whether a Judge would want to sentence young Johnnie to hard time is obviously another question altogether.

    Here's the real kicker. The Bill also lowers the age of criminal responsibility for "serious crimes" (with the same definition as before) to 10 years old. So this means that, were the Bill enacted (God help us all) we would see 10 year olds standing on stools so that they could be seen over the top of the dock in the number one courtroom at Auckland District Court. Did anyone actually bother to check this thing before hitting send?

    So I think it's fair to say IMHO that Mark's Bill doesn't really have all that much going for it in the sympathy stakes when you take a good look at it. Whoever came up with the definition of "serious offence" must have been having the great granddaddy of all bad days. I'm trying to be fair to Mark - it may not be his fault - but any lawmaker who thinks 10 year olds should be in the dock in adult court - let alone in jail - for petty theft should go find some tin pot nation to become dictator of and save us from themselves.

    Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report Reply