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Stop Weakening the Law on Murder

Stop Weakening the Law on Murder

Wednesday 12 Dec 2001 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Justice, Law & Order

Eight murder victims in as many days should persuade the Minister of Justice to halt his Bill to reduce murder penalties, says ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks.

"The Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill, now being considered by the Justice and Electoral Select Committee, removes automatic so-called life imprisonment as a penalty for murder. It leaves the penalty to the discretion of Judges.

"It sits in a Bill which:

* Doesn't even include punishment as one of the purposes of sentencing
* Obliges the Judges to apply the lowest penalty they can justify, for any crime
* Removes the current requirement that serious violent offenders serve at least two thirds of their sentence, and instead makes them eligible for parole at one third
* Allows even serious violent offenders to apply for home detention five months before their parole eligibility date
* Says that Judges must try to fine people if possible rather than give other sentences
* Does nothing to end the scandal of fines going unpaid until they are written off by the Judge next time the offender is sentenced
* Promises nothing to ensure supervision of paroled offenders is effective
* Does nothing about the appalling low compliance rate with community sentence conditions
* Says the Parole Board will have to release prisoners if they don't present an "undue risk" to the community, without reference to the viciousness or seriousness of the crime, or the victim's right to see the price paid
* Deceptively refers to a 17-year minimum for murder when in fact the fine print means it adds nothing to oblige Judges to increase murder sentencing and leaves the length of sentencing up to them just as it has been

"What will drive home to Phil Goff and his politically correct crew, that being the worst country in the English speaking world for violent crime is not just an accident or inevitable? It is a consequence of a failed 30-year experiment in offender-centred justice that he wants to entrench and continue in the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill," Stephen Franks said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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