Govt moves to repeal Three Strikes bill
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The Three Strikes law introduced in 2010 is set to be ditched with the introduction of the Three Strikes Legislation Repeal Bill.
Justice Minister Kris Faafoi has labelled the law an anomaly in the justice system that has led to "absurd” outcomes.
“In one case, for example, a person was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for an offence for which the sentencing judge indicated that they would, ordinarily, have imposed 18 months in prison.
“We have even seen the situation, recently, where the Supreme Court had to intervene in the case of an individual with long-standing and serious mental illness to correct what the Court said was so disproportionately severe that it breached the Bill of Rights.”
In a statement released today, Faafoi says those who backed the law argued it would improve public safety, but this has not been the case.
“Other jurisdictions have also repealed their own versions of three strike provisions, including the Northern Territory, and California repealed aspects of its three strikes law in 2012.
“Before the three strikes law was introduced here there were numerous examples of judges imposing lengthy periods of imprisonment, or other severe penalties, in response to offending.
“One person convicted of the 2001 RSA murders in Auckland received a life sentence, without possibility of parole for 30 years.”
Faafoi says other sentencing options and orders exist in New Zealand law already which provide judges the tools to impose the same restrictions as provided by the three strikes law in appropriate cases, such as:
-preventive detention for repeat serious offenders,
-public protection and extended supervision orders,
-minimum periods of imprisonment, and
-imposing maximum penalties, up to life imprisonment.
Faafoi says when the Three Strikes Legislation Repeal Bill becomes law, judges will continue to be able to impose severe sentences on serious offenders.
He says they will also be able to take a range of relevant factors into account and tailor the penalty to fit the crime.
The three strikes law was put in place by the Sentencing and Parole Reform Act 2010.
The law requires judges to hand out particular sentences without allowing them to consider the seriousness of the offending or other circumstances surrounding the offending and the offender.
Cabinet has agreed that the Three Strikes Legislation Repeal Bill, as introduced, will see people who are already sentenced under the three strikes regime serve their sentence as originally imposed. But Cabinet has agreed to invite select committee to consider whether (and, if so, how) the bill should include provisions for those who have already been sentenced under three strikes.
“This will give the public, opposition politicians and other interested parties the opportunity to make submissions on this and other issues, and I strongly encourage people to have their say on this important piece of legislation,” says Faafoi.
Further information is available on the Ministry of Justice website here: https://www.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector-policy/key-initiatives/repeal-of-the-three-strikes-law