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Suspended Sentences Being Misused

Media Release

1 May 2001

SUSPENDED SENTENCES BEING MISUSED

“Recent reports by the Minister of Justice, Hon Phil Goff, that government is at last moving to toughen up the sentencing rules for Judges by way of a new bill to be introduced into Parliament are to be applauded,” said Ron Mark MP, New Zealand First Law and Order spokesman.

“When 91.75% of the voting population gave such a clear message to government during the Norm Withers inspired referendum in 1999 that it wanted to see sentences for violent offenders increased, the government really was left with no choice other than to act and act decisively,” he said.

“There remains however, a further area of sentencing which urgently needs to be addressed and that is the increasing use of suspended sentencing.

“Looking back through incidents for which offenders have received suspended sentences, I was alarmed to see listed; -

- The illegal selling of information from a government social services agency,
- Serious sexual offences by a 16 year old male,
- A youth who broke a boys leg with a steel bar,
- A Maori male who forced a crucifix up a females nose, almost killing her,
- A home invasion involving a beating, sexual assault and disfigurement,
- Forgery of bank notes,
- A school teacher for indecent assault on a pupil,
- Defrauding Social Welfare of $98,000,
- And so the inappropriate use of this sentencing goes on………..

“These serious incidents indicate a misuse of the suspended sentence provisions by some Judges and is possibly more to do with minimising prison overcrowding than it is to do with the meting out of justice on behalf on our community,” Mr Mark said.

“These are transparently obvious anomalies in the sentencing regime and I urge the Minister of Justice to include the use of suspended sentences in his assessment of sentencing measures,” concluded Mr Mark.

Ends.

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