In August, five Court of Appeal judges used the same safety valve to save two convicted murderers from life imprisonment without parole. They had both fallen foul of the second warning phase of the Three Strike law.
The judges questioned the whole point of the law concluding that “the research on whether the three-strikes regime actually work to reduce crime is equivocal at best.” They quoted a police report that noted “it is generally difficult to identify the extent to which a change in behaviour is due to incapacitation and deterrence as opposed to other factors.”
A year ago, in an analysis of the first five years of Three Strikes legislation, Auckland law professor, Warren Brookbanks had raised the same doubts.
If the new law was acting as the deterrent it was set up to be, how come, he asked, were there were “well over 5000 convictions for first strike offences” in its first five years. He added that police records show no decline in the serious crimes targeted by the 2010 legislation and no correlation between crime statistics and the new law.
From 2008/2009, the number of sexual assaults per 10,000 population began to rise.
As for serious assaults resulting in injury, they’d been dropping since 2008/2009. Similarly robbery peaked in 2006 and then declined. Indeed, said Professor Brookbanks, police statistics show a steady overall decline in recorded offence from 1300 per 10,000 people in 1995 to just under 800 per 10,000 in 2014.
But while the crime rate goes down, the prison population continues to climb. In December 2010 when the new law to deter offenders came into effect, the prison muster was 8546. Last March, it had risen to 9273 and the prison service was preparing for 10,000 inmates by next April.
The Three-Strikes legislation is only going to increase that number, the designers predicted another 700 by 2060. Bottom-pinchers and rapists treated the same. It’s time it went the way of its disgraced Act Party champion.
I see it from the other angle. Three strikes should apply to all criminal convictions. If you’re not going to stop burgling after your second convictions, you are clearly not going to do so after your third either.
When it comes to offenders, there are idiots and career criminals.
Three Strikes is exactly created to put the career criminals away. Yes, the prison population is increasing. Good! What is the alternative? Catch and Release?
These people damage, steal, threaten, hurt, rape and kill. And a large number of people think that prison isn’t the right place for those that keep doing it?
What are they on?
– Brian Rudman, NZ Herald