Why do lefties need to lie about Three Strikes?

Last  week I caught up with an old friend – I will call him Porky. For 35 years Porky and I have agreed to disagree on whether he has for all those  years been a  proud foundation member of a “motorcycle club” or a gang. Either way he is one of those “good jokers” that one meets in the working class world, a reminder of something the lefties just don’t get – that  someone can have little formal education, but still be very smart.

Having not seen each other for a long time, our conversation naturally turned to my short political career and its spectacular flame out. Porky was well aware of my connection with the three strikes law but asked me to spell out its details for him. After I had done so, this proud long term member of a “motorcycle club” said “Well, there’s fuck all wrong with that law…if they are dumb enough to keep committing those kind of offences, prison is where they belong. If they can’t learn after three they are not going to”.   

This conversation made me wonder not for the first time, how many guys who have themselves been on the fringes of the law – or indeed the wrong side of it – “get it”, but lefties need to tell lies about the law and how it is working. The most well known liar is of course Kim Workman, who said while the Bill was being passed that it would cause the prison population to triple in three years. The real impact of course – as he well knew even back then – is negligible; 3S is responsible for about 1.5% of the prison muster. Here’s why.

There are now about 10,500 first strikers. Whether they get sent to prison or not has nothing to do with 3S; at stage one the law’s only impact is the judicial warning that strikers must receive regarding the effect of further strike offending. Otherwise they get whatever sentence they would have got pre 3S. There are about 340 second strike offenders. They serve their full judge given sentence without parole. Therefore, for the period after they would have been eligible for parole but for 3S, they occupy a prison bed, and therefore have an impact on prisoner numbers which is down to 3S. There are six third strikers serving much longer sentences than hitherto, but that number is so low it has no statistical significance in a prison population of over 10,000.

Workman is not the only left wing crim-cuddler who needs to resort to lies about 3S. Roger Brooking, a Wellington drug and alcohol counsellor and apologist for criminals, recently failed in a complaint to the media council about an article in the New Zealand Herald. Brooking claimed that the Herald  had published a false and misleading piece about both the effect of 3S and public support for it, based on a survey carried out by Curia, David Farrar’s polling company.

Brooking simply could not accept either the stats about 3S offenders, or the  level of popular support for the law.  68% of the overall population sampled in the poll carried out by Curia were in favour of the law, with even 55% of Green voters forming part of that majority. Not content with claiming that the level of support for the law was inaccurate – Brooking claimed that the true level of support was more like 34% – he also accused Curia of being biased because David Farrar, the owner of the polling company,  was “…a right wing blogger who is known to support the three strikes law and [therefore] cannot be said to be independent…”  Brooking’s complaint failed, with the entire Media Council panel which considered his complaint rejecting it.

The failed complaint says a great deal more about Roger Brooking than it does about David Farrar, and he is still at it: in a recent op-ed of his own he implied that a significant proportion of prisoners were in jail by virtue of 3S. He must know – or he certainly ought to – that the numbers are very small, largely down to specific deterrence of first strikers, fewer than 4% of whom have so far come back for a second go.  To avoid any ambiguity, this is my opinion: lefties happily make up lies when they don’t like the stats or the findings of a properly conducted poll; they therefore expect those on the right to do the same.

I remember being very shocked by the blatantly dishonest tactics of the left when three strikes was passing through the legislative process.  Either Workman or the Howard League or both brought one Rev. Ron Givens from California to tour the country to tell us all about the allegedly dreadful effects 3S would have here – a law incidentally that bears little resemblance beyond the name to its California parent. Naturally I was keen to debate the good Reverend, so my staff rang, texted, emailed and wrote old fashioned letters to those organising his tour, offering to have me debate Givens anywhere, any time. There was a complete lack of response.

When Givens was safely back in California, he went on National Radio to bemoan the fact that I, “the leader of the ACT party”, had refused to debate him while he was here.  In other words, not only did Givens lie, but he told the exact opposite of the truth. The organisers of his tour maintained a stunning silence in the face of that blatant lie.

I regularly cite 3S statistics in comments on Kiwiblog and elsewhere. I am scrupulous about only citing facts and figures which I know to be correct. In this I am helped immeasurably by a statistician aligned with the Sensible Sentencing Trust. He methodically compiles data from source material we obtain, including sentencing notes, so we can make accurate statements. Sentencing notes are the “gold standard” when it comes to offender details – if something is in there you know it is 100% accurate.

The picture painted by those notes is one which the Roger Brookings and Kim Workmans don’t like. Strike offenders are invariably evil bastards who almost always have a pre-strike history of serious violent offending. They are most certainly not poor sad boys with one regrettable drugged or drunken lapse who just need a bit of love and understanding.

My friend Porky has no university degree; he has spent his working life on oil rigs and in petro-chemical plants in various parts of the world doing a variety of jobs. In his time he no doubt did things that he now regrets, although so far as I know, he has no convictions for anything serious. He is also a very smart man willing to see what is, and he is a damn sight more honest than Roger Brooking or Kim Workman. Those gentlemen and their fellow travellers could learn much from guys like my friend Porky.


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