Sentencing And Parole Reform Bill Moves Forward
28 March 2002
The Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill has taken another step towards becoming law, passing through its second reading in Parliament today.
Justice Minister Phil Goff said the Bill incorporates a number of changes which improve and considerably toughen the current sentencing and parole system.
“This Bill responds to the need for reform and public support for change as indicated in the 1999 referendum.
“While opposition parties indulge in an ‘arms race’ of trying to sound tough on crime, this legislation is sensible and considered. It is harsher on the worst offenders while offering flexibility at the other end of the scale.
“The most heinous murderers will face a minimum non-parole period of 17 years, up from the current 10 years.
“I am abolishing the nonsense of having to automatically release a serious offender at two thirds of their sentence. Those criminals who still pose a risk to public well-being face the prospect of staying in prison until the last day of their sentence.
“For the first time, the newly established professional parole board will have the safety of the community as its paramount consideration when considering the release of an offender.
“I will be introducing a Supplementary Order Paper in the Committee stage which will allow Courts to set a minimum non-parole period of up to two thirds for determinate sentences of more than two years.
“While it is unlikely that a serious offender would be considered suitable for parole at one third of their sentence, this change answers public concerns on the issue.
“The cost of tougher sentencing for serious and high-risk offenders will be $90 million dollars over four years and an increased prison population of up to 350.
“Today marks another step in achieving a long overdue overhaul of the criminal justice system with legislation which will be tougher where it needs to be and more flexible where that is desired,” Mr Goff said.