Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Mapp Speech: Sentencing And Parole Reform Bill

Dr Wayne Mapp National Party Justice Spokesperson

Speech On The Third Reading Of The Sentencing And Parole Reform Bill

This Bill is the Government's response to the 1999 Withers' referendum. Everyone in this House knows the depth of community concern about the scale of crime; it is undisputed that murders have risen from 16 in 1960 to 56 in 2000. This one fact has led to the establishment of the Sensible Sentencing Trust. There has been a groundswell of interest. In just two years, they have reached a membership of 110,000. Public meetings on justice attract the largest audiences in the country.

There were great expectations of the Government. Mr Goff campaigned on this issue. Even when he introduced the Bill last year people welcomed it.

But the scales soon fell from their eyes. This Bill is a failure. The Minister's belated SOP was a stark recognition of that fact. Mr Barker knows the deep sense of grievance that is held by people regarding his failure to understand the depth of emotion felt by people severely affected by crime.

This Bill has many failures. But one in particular stands above all. Violent offenders will now be able to apply for parole at one-third of their sentence. That means a rapist sentenced to nine years will be able to apply for parole after three years. No matter how the Government spins this, no member of the public voted for easier parole.

How did this catastrophic failure of Government policy occur? Documents that had to be extracted by Official Information Act requests show the Minister of Justice wanted eligibility for parole at 50%. Mr Robson, Progressive Coalition, wanted one-third. By some extraordinary default, Mr Robson won this contest. The tail wagged the dog.

Everyone recognised that automatic eligibility for parole at two-thirds was wrong. Everyone expected it would be replaced by eligibility at two-thirds.

National will be campaigning on this issue. We are opposed to violent criminals being eligible for parole at one third of their sentence. Giving judges the discretion to impose longer minimum non-parole periods - but not more than two-thirds - is simply not an adequate response. In effect, the Government's decision means that the Parole Board will have more sentencing power than judges.

Parole does have a proper place. It provides an incentive for prisoners to rehabilitate. It helps prison management. But it should not be so liberal that it effectively displaces the sentence imposed by the judge.

Through the Committee stages, National put forward a series of considered amendments - not as political theatre, but to repair the deficiencies in the Bill. The Government voted against every one; even amendments requiring offenders to do work for victims, with the victim's consent.

The Government's failure on parole is symptomatic of the whole tenor of this Bill. There is a consistent failure to recognise the constitutional role of the sentencing judge. There is a consistent failure to recognise the importance of punishment, both as a sanction and as a moral imperative. And there is a consistent failure to give victims a true voice in sentencing.

It would seem axiomatic that the judge imposes the sentence, and that it will be largely served. Instead, we see parole eligibility at one-third. The Minister tells us that parole will only be granted if community safety is assured. That is not what the Bill says. Under section 169 , prisoners must be released unless it can be shown that they pose an undue risk to the community. The Government has this around the wrong way. Surely the offender should have to demonstrate that they are reformed, before they are considered for parole.

Even in community sentences, judges have been overridden. Whether an offender gets periodic detention or community service is not in the hands of probation officers. All the judge can do is sentence the offender to community work. After that, probation officers - many with heads filled with fanciful notions about offenders - will make a decision about the type of work.

It is surely fundamental that punishment is a key component of sentencing. That is why National is backing life imprisonment for the worst murderers. Society is entitled to be protected from them. They have forfeited their right to return to the community. How is it that William Holtz, with 50 previous convictions for violence, who committed a brutal murder while on parole only yesterday was sentenced to a minimum non-parole period of 10 years. He is a prime candidate for life without parole. He has forfeited his right to live in the community.

And when someone like Holtz comes up for parole, where is the victim's representative on the Parole Board? Someone specifically charged with understanding the fear and anxiety victims face with the impending release of violent criminals. Victims representatives will err on the side of community safety, not on the side of the criminal. The voice of victims must be heard. Victims are the missing people in this Bill. Their rights have been neglected in favour of the criminal. The parole provisions speak starkly of this fact.

National will have proper sentencing legislation. We will ensure that parole is only given at the end of sentences. We will ensure that society is protected from the depredation of criminals who prey upon innocent members of our community.

Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: Zimbabwe - Meet The New Bosses

At 75, Mnangagwa is not exactly what you’d call a new broom. As many observers have pointed out, his track record has been one of unswerving dedication to Mugabe ever since the days of anti-colonial insurgency...

The falling out with Mugabe two weeks ago came only after Mugabe attempted to build a dynastic succession around his wife, Grace. Mnangagwa fled to South Africa, from where he orchestrated an Army coup led by his long–time ally, General Constantino Chiwenga, head of the country’s armed forces. To these guys, things had to change in Zimbabwe, so that things could remain the same. More>>

 

Cullen To Chair: Tax Working Group Terms Of Reference Announced

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash today announced the Terms of Reference for the Tax Working Group and that the Group will be chaired by Sir Michael Cullen. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The New Pike River Agency (And The Air Strike Wing)

Much of the sympathy the public still feels for the families of the Pike River miners has been sustained by the sense that the previous government – let alone the mining company and the processes of receivership and litigation – has never dealt honestly, or fairly, with them. More>>

ALSO:

Not Going Swimmingly: Contractor Cut, New Dates For Christchurch Sports Centre

“As an incoming Minister, I have been conducting a thorough review of progress on the Anchor projects and to learn of a $75 million budget blowout on this project was very disappointing..." More>>

ALSO:

Tertiary: Allowances, Loan Living Costs To Get Boost

“From 1 January, student allowance base rates and the maximum amount students can borrow for living costs will rise by a net $50 a week,” says Education Minister Chris Hipkins... further adjusted from 1 April 2018 in line with any increase in the CPI. More>>

ALSO:

Foreign Affairs: Patrick Gower Interviews Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says discussions have already begun on how to bring climate change refugees into New Zealand under a Pacific seasonal employment plan... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Centre Right’s Love Of ‘Nanny State’

You’d almost think it was 2005 again. That was a time when the rugged individualists of the centre-right were being beset by government regulations on the nature of light-bulbs, the size of shower heads, the junk food available at school tuck shops and other such essentials... More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election