Prisoners entitled to hope? Society is entitled to justice and peace of mind

To paraphrase President Frank Underwood, “prisoners are entitled to nothing“, they are there to serve time for being parasite and predators on society.

New Zealand’s controversial three-strikes legislation is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act – and the Court of Appeal should use the case before it to put Parliament on notice, the lawyer for a convicted murderer says.

The court has reserved its decision in the case, in which the Crown is asking for life sentences without parole for two murderers on their second “strike”.

Under the legislation, murderers on their second or third strike are sentenced to life without parole unless that’s found to be manifestly unjust.

The strikes are given for a certain set of serious violent or sexual offences.

A sentence of life without parole has never been handed down in New Zealand.

It’s about time one was. Here’s the thing, this crim-hugging womble lawyer is asking the Court to supercede the will of parliament. I’m not sure even an activist court would do that.

Today, former ACT MP David Garrett, who authored the legislation, watched from the court’s public gallery as defence lawyer Nick Chisnall argued sentencing his client to life without parole – with no opportunity for a review – would amount to a breach of the Bill of Rights.

He told the five judges that, if they found the legislation was in breach, then they should refer it back to Parliament.

Mr Chisnall represents Justin Vance Turner. In 2014, Turner pleaded guilty to the murder of homeless man Maqbool Hussain, whom he punched and stomped in an attack that lasted over an hour.

The murder was his second strike warning, and he has a lengthy criminal history that includes an attack on his girlfriend that left her on life support.

Turner is serving a life sentence for Mr Hussain’s murder but will be eligible for parole after 15 years.

Mr Chisnall said his client was just 29 years old when he was sentenced so if he was given an non-parole sentence – according to mortality statistics – he could spend 60 years in prison.

A noose would be better, but we are apparently better than that…60 years in prison seems fair for taking another person’s life. If he doesn’t like that then I’m sure we can give him a box of tissues to dry his eyes.

The three-strikes legislation came under further attack from a second lawyer, Christopher Stevenson, who represents Shane Pierre Harrison.

Harrison was convicted of a murder in a gang shooting – his second strike – and was sentenced to life with a minimum non-parole period of 13 years.

The Crown is also appealing his sentence, alongside Turner’s.

Mr Stevenson said sentencing people to life without parole amounted to a sentence of death by incarceration.

Prisoners were entitled to the right to hope, he argued.

Boo Effing Hoo. They have taken other people’s life with their crimes but are crying a river of tears that theirs will be taken, albeit rather too slowly for most people’s liking. Order another box of tissues.

If they want hope they should look to Obama for it, he promised hope to the world.

 

– Radio NZ

 


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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