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Criminal Justice (Parole Offenders) Amendment Bill

22 November 2000

Justice Minister Phil Goff today described Stephen Frank's Parole Offenders Bill as a simplistic proposal from the ACT Party that would result in perverse outcomes.

"Under this Bill, a conviction for an offence committed while on parole would automatically see the inmate recalled to finish the term of imprisonment, with no prospect of further parole from that original sentence.

"Like all mandatory sentencing regimes this one would inevitably lead to absurd and unjust results.

"Take the example of a young person who was convicted of murdering another person in a bar brawl. He serves say 11 years and is released. Five years later, he is convicted of shoplifting. Under this bill, he would have to serve the rest of his natural life, conceivably another 50 years, in prison for shoplifting.

"The penalty in that case simply would not fit the crime. ACT's bill is a blunt instrument when what we need is something more sophisticated.

"The public is justifiably outraged when someone like Taffy Hotene can murder an innocent young woman while out on parole.

"The key problem with the parole system has been in identifying the inmates who are still dangerous, who should not be released, and the present inflexibility of the system to keep those people in prison rather than releasing them.

"The Government is addressing this problem. The sentencing review and parole law reforms will ensure that serious, persistent and dangerous offenders are serving longer sentences and do not automatically get release into the community after two thirds of their sentence where they can commit further serious offences.

"ACT's Bill approaches the issue with a sledgehammer and would simply squander hundreds of millions of dollars, recalling over 2,500 offenders every year, regardless of the risk they pose.

"Aside from sounding tough this would only serve to divert money from the places it can really make a difference: crime prevention, early intervention in at-risk families, tackling youth offending, policing, targeting hard-core offenders, and strengthening victims’ rights.

ENDS

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