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Govt Must Heed Message Behind Support For Middleto

The Government should heed the message behind the overwhelming support for Mark Middleton's actions and the relief over the news of his suspended sentence, National's Justice spokesperson Wayne Mapp said today.

"The overwhelming support New Zealanders have shown to Mark Middleton illustrates the frustration in the community about the length of sentences given to violent criminals. New Zealanders are crying out for action. They want violent criminals to serve time that fits the crime.

"Attorney-General Margaret Wilson is wrong in her view that the public should not be able to express to judges, through the public media, their view of appropriate sentences. Judges are part of civil society and are expected to understand the general expectations society has in terms of sentencing policy. It is not a matter that remains solely the domain of Parliament.

"Judges themselves understand the need to remain in touch with community feelings.

"The Labour-Alliance Government has failed to act on the Withers' referendum calling for tougher sentences for violent criminals. Justice Minister Phil Goff makes a lot of noise about listening to the people and says he will act to provide tougher sentences but, as usual, his actions do not back his rhetoric.

"National has been calling for action for more than a year. In light of Government inaction we have proposed two private member's bills. My member's bill, currently in the ballot, would put an end to automatic parole for violent criminals. Tony Ryall's member's bill allows for DNA testing of burglary suspects. Mr Ryall's bill goes before Parliament next Wednesday. It will be an opportunity for the Government to show if they are serious about getting tough on crime.

"If we are to avoid a repeat of Mark Middleton's actions, New Zealanders must feel that justice has been done when violent criminals are sentenced," Dr Mapp said.


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