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Truth In Sentencing Attack Is Utter Nonsense

Wednesday 12th Jul 2000
Richard Prebble
Media Release -- Justice

The attack on the Truth in Sentencing Bill by Minister of Justice, Phil Goff, is utter nonsense, said ACT Leader Hon Richard Prebble.

“Of course the Justice Department defends our flawed system of reducing most Court imposed prison sentences by a third and short term sentences by 50%; it’s their policy!

“New Zealand’s policy of early inmate release is an expensive failure. Over 75 per cent of prisoners released early re-offend within three years of their release.

“The Justice Department’s claim that Truth in Sentencing would result in a 55 per cent increase in prison population, if true, just proves how many hardened criminals the system releases early every year.

“Of course the Department is double counting. As Phil Goff himself said last year while in opposition, perhaps as few as 30 professional criminals commit 70% of burglaries in Auckland’s North Shore.

“It is difficult to commit crime while in prison and my Bill will ensure that hardened criminals don’t just get a few months holiday at taxpayer expense.

As of 1997 27 States in America have adopted Truth in Sentencing. None have since reversed it. From 1980 to 1990 the ten states that adopted tougher sentencing saw crime fall 8 per cent. Conversely, the states with the lowest increases in real time served saw violent crime mushroom 51 per cent.

“Crime has increased dramatically since we adopted lies in sentencing and let criminals out early. It is no surprise 92% of New Zealand voted to get tough on crime.

“Phil Goff should consider a New Zealand Institute of Economic Research report commissioned by the Justice Department that estimates the economic cost of crime at $5 billion a year. There was no figure put on one of the worst effects of crime – fear.

“Phil Goff should ask why it is New Zealand has high crime levels than any Australian state. Could it be because the actual sentences served by New Zealand criminals are not those imposed by the Court?”, said Richard Prebble.

For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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