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Sentencing Reform Spin Sucks In Victims’ Reps

Sentencing Reform Spin Sucks In Victims’ Representatives

The announced headline features of the Sentencing and Parole Reform are sensible, ACT Justice Spokesman MP Stephen Franks said today.

“But the fine print shows another story.

“Victim spokespeople have been conned like widows dealing with door to door home repairers.

“We can now tell that the Government will just paint over the dirt and cobwebs, and it will all peel off.

“The cost figures give the lie. There can be no real toughening when the extra resource is less than $23 million per year – under 1.5 per cent of the Law and Order Budget.

“ACT’s Truth in Sentencing Bill had the modest aim of ensuring criminals served at least 80% of their present sentences. The Government costed it at over $800 million in the first year, and over $100 million extra per year after that.

“Instead of protecting the sanctity of life with a real boost to murder penalties, life imprisonment will go. It will be left to the judges to decide when deliberate killing is okay. Presently only self-defence is an excuse. Plainly ‘abuse-excuses’ will be encouraged. As the lawyers have pointed out – depending on the judges, the effect could be a drastic softening of average sentences.

“There must be softening somewhere. The Government expects the changes to add less than 5% to a prison population previously expected to grow by more than 50% in 5 years with no change in policy. In effect they must be expecting dramatic reductions in present average penalties.

“White collar criminals will get even more meaningless sentences.

“The unannounced trade-offs show the tough-seeming Mr Goff is just the PR man for bewildered Mr Robson.

“The softening for other early stage criminals will simply take us deeper into the mire of law that does not mean what it says”, Stephen Franks said.


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