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Bail bill passed

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
Media Statement
4 October 2000

Bail bill passed

Justice Minister Phil Goff tonight welcomed the passing into law of a tough new bail regime.

Mr Goff, who has been calling for Bail reform since 1994, said the need for more effective bail laws has been obvious to the country for the best part of 10 years now.

"National sat on its hands all that time until just before the election when it belatedly introduced the Bail Bill.

"Their attempt did not go far enough.

"The Government has amended the Bill to target the hard core recidivist offenders whose statistics prove are likely to have a 80 to 90% chance of offending while on bail. These are people who have had 14 or more previous custodial sentences.

"We have reversed the onus of proof in relation to these hard-core offenders. Instead of police having to persuade the courts that such people should not be bailed, the alleged offenders should have to prove to the courts that they are safe to be released into the community.

"We're talking about the habitually violent or the career burglar, who till now could be arrested and remanded in the afternoon and 'knock over' three houses on the way home for tea.

"Under the Bill enacted today we estimate over 2,000 such offenders each year will be taken out of circulation, around 260 at any one time.

"This obviously comes at a cost, around $30 million in capital expenditure on prisons and up to $6 million annually in operating costs. However, the costs of those hard-core offenders remaining in the community and continuing to offend is much higher both in human and in financial terms.

"A tougher stance on the bailing of recidivist offenders is an issue on which the Labour Party has stood consistently for many years now. I am pleased that the Bill has finally become a reality," Mr Goff concluded.


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