Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Three strikes is back

Simon Power is the Minister of Justice and is fronting the sentencing and Parole reform bill. Today, three Ministers - Rodney Hide, John Key and Judith Collins - announced that the government had reached agreement on a three-strikes policy that will ensure the worst repeat criminals receive the maximum allowable sentence.

So why didn't Simon Power contribute to making that announcement, given that this agreement is going to be incorporated into his bill?

The three strikes aspect to the bill means repeat serious offenders get the maximum allowable sentence, meaning more people will be behind bars for longer. I`m not sure what exactly counts as a strike, in terms of sentencing - what if your third strike was an historic crime done before your first strike? What if your second strike was overturned and your are in jail for your third strike -does your sentence get reduced, or do you get compensation? I'm not allowed to have a say on that at select committee as I didn't do a submission to the initial bill.

The two Ministers of the Maori Party are unhappy and have introduced a new term that should get wide usage: "hide-bound". The party says the proposed 'three strikes legislation shows the government is hide-bound by political rhetoric on crime and punishment that has no factual basis.

The problem with the process of these changes is that only the people who have made submissions to the select committee on this bill will be given the opportunity to make submissions on this new aspect of the bill, a limited subset of "the public" as stated in the government's media release.

Given that National's confidence and supply agreement with Act meant that Acts "three strikes " policy was to get a fair hearing at select committee, perhaps these latest proposals should have been in the original bill before submissions were called for.

The select committee is due to report in March.



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