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Sentencing bill labelled fraud

Tony Ryall National Police Spokesperson


21 February 2002

Sentencing bill labelled fraud

National's Police spokesman, Tony Ryall, is accusing the Government of a tougher sentencing fraud, saying the Justice Minister's Bill gives serious violent criminals a "get out of jail early card".

Speaking at a meeting in Papakura tonight, Mr Ryall said there is a perception that the Government's Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill meets the objectives of the Withers' referendum on tougher penalties, but the reality is quite different.

"Under the guise of apparent toughening of the law, many serious violent offenders like rapists, robbers and muggers will be released much earlier than at present," said Mr Ryall.

"The Withers referendum was all about tougher sentences. Mr Withers' mother was severely beaten. Her attacker was convicted of wounding with intent and aggravated robbery and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

"Under the current law, that means the attacker doesn't qualify for parole for six years and nine months. Under Phil Goff's proposal, such thugs would qualify for parole in half that time - he would be eligible for release after only three years and three months. This is a get out of jail early card.

"A reduction in jail time for serious violent offenders is not what New Zealanders thought they would get in overwhelmingly supporting the Withers referendum.

"Most New Zealanders don't even want offenders released when two-thirds of their sentence is up. The Government's proposal will see the most serious violent offenders eligible for parole after only a third of their sentence.

"The trade-off this Government has made is quite clear. In return for tightening the rules for a small number of extremely violent headline offenders - the cases that get top billing in the media - a much larger group, including rapists, robbers and bashers will be eligible for earlier release.

"This is a tougher sentencing fraud," said Mr Ryall.

Ends


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