Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: The Greg King Memorial Blogpost: Three Strikes, Five Years On (now retracted)

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Comments opened :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • eszett,

    Now, strike crime is down in general, but the ~20% fall in strike offending is dwarfed by the ~62% fall in strike recidivism.

    We have some data already – strike recidivism appears to be falling much faster than strike offending, so what more do we need?

    I guess one question would be what was the trend for recidivism for all offendings (not just strike offendings). Does the strike offending recidivism follow or buck the trend of general recidivism?

    Agree that there certainly isn’t one provable cause and effect, but certainly the data does support the hypothesis that 3 strikes has a deterrent effect.

    Since May 2009 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to eszett,

    I guess one question would be what was the trend for recidivism for all offendings (not just strike offendings). Does the strike offending recidivism follow or buck the trend of general recidivism?

    From memory, it's down, but not by that much. A good place to look. Thanks!

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    Graeme...is this the David Garrett you are referring to?

    David Garrett (9,426 comments) says:
    September 24th, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    This disabled access, and toilets for the disabled has to be the biggest load of shit in the past 20-30 years, and that’s saying something.

    A little straw poll: who here has EVER seen a person in a wheelchair entering or leaving a public toilet? I have never seen one, ever.

    How many people have seen a person in a wheelchair “accessing” [we used to just “go into”] a building? In my dim dark memory banks I think I might have seen one, once.

    When I was an MP I remember noticing one disabled guy who was a regular user of the Koru club. Whenever I saw him I paid particular attention to whether he used the toilets – from a respectably distance of course! He never did.

    does anyone know the % of wheelchair bound people in NZ? Whatever it is, a massive amount is spent on their potential “needs” – even in ludicrous situations such as that referred to by RRM @ 2.45.

    (emphasis mine.)
    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2015/09/the_loopy_rules_report.html#comments

    Really?

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Bar leaner…

    is this the David Garrett you are referring to

    I’m guessing that this is the David Garrett you are thinking of (as am I) – he already has quite a few ‘strikes’ against his name.
    It would be an extreme irony if someone had ‘stolen’ his name on Kiwiblog…

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    I imagine natural variation might be high in these kind of samples but it is interesting; we are at the kind of time scale I gather is considered sensible. Also there may be some variation in time-in-prison - parole policy progressively tightening - over at least the first comaprison that'd make it harder to commit a second offence in the timeframe. Probably not enough to account for those numbers anyway.

    Of course the actual counter is whether some other intervention (perhaps effectively prevented by the mindset that gives us three strikes) would work better for the whole population.

    Anyway, I haven't actually read the post in detail so I stop typing now.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • MPH,

    Thank you for the interesting post. As you rightly foreshadowed, people sceptical of 3 strikes (like myself) are unlikely to be convinced that you have demonstrated a specific deterrent effect though.

    As always, there are a number of explanations.

    One I thought I would throw out there: the combination of factors that lead to it being less likely that someone will be charged with a second strike offence. The Criminal Procedure Act 2011 and the bulk funding of Crown prosecutors (since 2008?) have both increased the focus on 'plea bargaining'. Where an accused faces a second strike offence, plea bargaining becomes obvious. Defence and Crown will negotiate the charge down to a non-strike offence and a guilty plea. Eg Agg Robbery/Burglary is downgraded to standard Robbery/Burglary. This happens a lot, the incentives are evident for the Crown and the defence. Most of the lawyers involved don't like 3 strikes anyway.

    That factor alone probably does not account for the effect you demonstrated, but I suggest that it is quite significant.

    Finally, I think it is wrongheaded to look for the cause of reduced recidivism in programmes implemented recently. Much more likely it would be programmes implemented with children about 10-18 years before they end up in prison for the first time. That is, I would look for intervention in 1997-2005. Only secondarily would I look at the services provided by Corrections.

    And so it goes on...

    Auckland • Since Sep 2015 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    This David Garrett?

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/6082942/I-was-a-roughneck-by-occupation-and-by-behaviour

    Appearing in court on a forgery charge was hugely embarrassing, despite name suppression.

    "I can still remember standing in court looking at the letter from the mother [of the dead child] in the spidery hand of an old lady and feeling like an absolute arsehole. It was really only then that it hit home to me that it had implications for people."

    Has this leopard changed it's spots?

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I don't want to be all censorious, but this post really isn't about David Garrett, so it would be cool if people could lay off the trawl through his history.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to MPH,

    Finally, I think it is wrongheaded to look for the cause of reduced recidivism in programmes implemented recently. Much more likely it would be programmes implemented with children about 10-18 years before they end up in prison for the first time. That is, I would look for intervention in 1997-2005. Only secondarily would I look at the services provided by Corrections.

    I think it would be an odd sort of childhood intervention that meant a person was still pretty likely to commit a strike offence, but was much less likely to commit a second strike offence, if convicted of the first.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • MPH, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I don't think that it would be odd, based on what we understand about the drivers of recidivism. Young people can commit first strike offences out of sheer stupidity and impulsiveness. When they are sentenced, there will be various risk factors that indicate a tendency to re-offend. If there has been intervention early-on those risk factors are less likely to be evident: recidivism will go down.

    In any event, the numbers show that there has been a reduction in strike one offending consistent with demographic trends. Ultimately you would expect recidivism to fall too and there are various reasons it might fall faster than the overall strike rate.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2015 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to MPH,

    Young people can commit first strike offences out of sheer stupidity and impulsiveness.

    Offending by young people, and even those recognised by the criminal justice system as adults at 17, does not fall within the three strike regime.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Derrilin Webb, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Thanks for a well reasoned post.
    Did the OIA requests answers you got have any demographic information ie breakdown by age bands?
    I am sceptical about the existence of much earlier programs that change behaviour, but still result in an initial offence that met the first strike criteria.
    A sample link to a Swedish study finds strong correlation between past and future activity.
    "Overall, acquiring a record for early delinquency was quite strongly prognostic of future crime"
    http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/31/4/327.abstract

    Wellington • Since Mar 2011 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    but this post really isn’t about David Garrett, so it would be cool if people could lay off the trawl through his history.

    Ah, but, this post is about methods of reducing recidivism

    Ironic that the father of the 'three strikes law' is, himself, a recidivist, (to use his own terminology), arsehole.

    He has a history of offending, and being offensive.

    He has a history of dishonesty.

    Perhaps it may help in the effort to reduce violent reoffending if Garrett was asked what he thinks it would take to transform him from "arsehole" to 'reasonable human being'.

    See if he has any insight into his offensiveness.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Some Stats,

    Is it possible for you to write shorter posts? It's not a legal argument, it's a blog! I'd say you are at least 1000 words over here...

    Otherwise, great!

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Attachment

    Yay in general for evidence based discussions.

    That said- I'm not convinced you can do a direct past/present comparison as we know the crime rate changes over time, I think the comparison needs to account for that.

    Also, If I take the recorded crime stats from http://www.stats.govt.nz/tools_and_services/nzdotstat/tables-by-subject/new-zealand-recorded-crime-tables/ASOC-offence-calendar-year-statistics.aspx
    and combine the recorded categories of " Acts intended to cause injury", " Abduction, harassment and other related offences against a person", " Sexual assault and related offences", Offence == " Homicide and related offences" the proportion of absolute number of reported cases compared two years previous looks like the attached graph. Which shows that drops over a period are going to depend very much on your starting period. OTOH crime per head of population has been dropping dramatically since the late nineties so you also need to correct per capita discussions that creep in on the basis of that long term trend.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Note: I realise I only used two years, but recidivism does seem to be a decline path that is getting pretty flat by the end of year two.

    Now allowing for 2004-2009 being a natural peak, and 2009-2014 a natural trough, we should probably try and estimate if the drop is that unusual if in is not a long term average vs intervention, but opposite ends of a cycle. So I would be inclined to fit the recorded cycle to the data before making a comparison (but that we need to wait until afternoon tea-time)

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    In this article I can’t seem to find how many third strike convictions there were. If only the first and second are being discussed then why have three?

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood, in reply to chris,

    Chris - I'm not aware of any third strike convictions, though I had the idea there were people facing it mentioned the other day.

    When you think about it, you have to serve two (hopefully) reasonably serious sentences before getting a third strike.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • MPH, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Offending by young people, and even those recognised by the criminal justice system as adults at 17, does not fall within the three strike regime.

    People between the ages of 18 and 24 are young people as far as I am concerned. Certainly as far as cognitive development is concerned. So I don't think being pedantic about the definition of "young person" is helpful.

    But that does raise quite an important point. Do your numbers account for the fact that people committing strike offences in 2005-2010 include young people under 18 years old? Again - possibly very significant impact on the results.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2015 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to chris,

    In this article I can’t seem to find how many third strike convictions there were. If only the first and second are being discussed then why have three?

    I believe there are yet to be any (maybe one).

    The consequence of a second strike is that you aren't eligible for parole, so people who have committed a second strike are reasonably likely to still be in prison, and unable to easily commit a third strike (although a serious prison assault can count, of course).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to MPH,

    But that does raise quite an important point. Do your numbers account for the fact that people committing strike offences in 2005-2010 include young people under 18 years old? Again – possibly very significant impact on the results.

    I was careful to limit my questions in all comparator groups to those offending at age 18 or above.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • MPH, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    There have been no third strikes, yet.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2015 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    Thanks for an interesting post, Graeme. It’s always refreshing to see good attempts at digging up real numbers instead of just having people saying stuff.

    A few things which come to mind:

    * Is there any way to know if courts are now reacting differently when strike offences come up? Is it possible for lawyers to barter with each other to avoid strike offence prosecutions when they mightn’t previously have bothered? [Edit: I see @MPH already raised this question.]

    * As David Hood said a couple of hours ago, it’d also be good to know that this isn’t just a peak/trough thing caused by separate events affecting the two periods which have nothing to do with strikes. Maybe that requires a wider range of data over a longer period, in both directions to prove that a sudden drop at 3 strikes introduction is retained.

    * Also crunching numbers is great, but for more understanding has anyone around here been in a position to actually talk to people who’ve been warned, and had an opportunity to gauge if and how it affects them?

    I still dislike the three strikes thing. Wherever there’s a possibility of rehabilitating someone then I’d much prefer they could have a pathway to return to the outside and contribute to society and the economy, very possibly what’s left of their family, rather than be locked inside and remain a drain on everyone else if they don’t need to be. I can’t shake the belief that context is important, and three strikes, to me, has always seemed a really ugly arbitrary way of deciding that there’s no chance of rehabilitating someone.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1141 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I don’t want to be all censorious, but this post really isn’t about David Garrett, so it would be cool if people could lay off the trawl through his history.

    Fair enough. But something rings hollow when those who thump down the tough-on-crime card then declare that it’s not illegal when Richard Nixon’s doing it. The 'chickenhawk' is a related thing in military/foreign policy circles.

    And from linking to that Investigate Magazine article (I read it so you don’t have to), when Anne Tolley thought out loud of birth control and dysfunctional families in the same sentence, I came to the realisation that eugenicists and anti-contraceptive theo-cons have one thing in common: they both regard contraception as a loser’s option, but for different reasons.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

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