Reforming bail laws
National wants to reform bail laws under urgency so that people would not be given bail if they posed any risk to the community, not just "real or substantial risk" as at present. This will increase the numbers of those remanded in prison, because it is likely that more will be denied bail. National tried to introduce the laws in the last parliament but Labour blocked it.
Remember, those denied bail are in custody before they've even found out whether they are guilty or not. What happens if their court case takes a year to come up and they are found not guilty? They are not criminals, but have been wrongfully imprisoned for a year. Punishment without trial is unjust but it is currently happening in this country before a decision on whether to grant bail has even been considered.
An application for EM bail ( electronic monitoring of defendants on pre-trial bail) takes up to 15 working days, meaning that those accused of a crime could be in custody for three weeks before they even find out if they get bail. For many, it's they first bail application. In effect, EM bail is monitored home detention without trial. Police also oppose more than 80 percent of the granted applications last year, because they are unfamiliar with the judicial processes around EM bail and so they just oppose it. And given that a role of the Police is to prove that an accused should not get bail, they are not doing a very good job proving these cases.
You'd think the risk would be lessened if they were electronically monitored while on bail. Then if they get home detention nothing much changes. If they are not convicted they don't lose their freedom. If they are imprisoned, they do their time for their crime - but after they have been found guilty. But why should they wait in custody for up to three weeks if they are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty? Unlike parole, bail is a right until someone proves in a court that a person has committed a crime and should be sentenced to imprisonment for it. It is not a privilege and a person should not be in custody awaiting to hear if he or she has got human rights in this area purely because authorities can't keep up with the paperwork. They should be out on bail until they do. If they do reoffend, make their sentences cumulative, not concurrent.