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Final Betrayal Of 92 Percent Of Voters

Wednesday 1 May 2002

ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said the Government committed its final betrayal of 92 percent of New Zealand voters tonight when it pushed through the final stages of its Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill.

"This bill purports to satisfy the demands of 92 percent of New Zealand voters for better treatment for victims, toughening up on crime, toughening up on sentencing, and hard labour for the worst criminals. What Mr Goff has done is produce a bill that turns every judge into a liar. This bill continues and even reinforces the fact that Judges will pass sentences that they know will never be served.

"The whole thrust of this Bill is against the community demand for effective punishment. It takes away existing Court powers.

"Mr Goff has urged us to rely on the professionalism of the Parole Board and his confidence in its new ability to decide when a released convict will be a risk to the safety of the community. Nothing in the Bill tells us why such special skills have not been available or used to date, where they will come from, and why they should override the sentences handed down by the Courts.

"The Bill has a spurious show of toughness because of the 92% vote for tougher sentencing and better treatment for victims but actually entrenches failed policies of the last 30 years.

"The Bill does not believe in punishment. It does not believe in deterrence or denunciation. It does not believe society, or even victims, have any right to see a sentence price paid for crime.

"The Bill reduces certainty that crime will incur penalties. Criminals who look as if they will not reoffend can assume any sentence they serve is just one third of what the Judge says.

"Corrections and parole functionaries are given the power to ignore the reasons for Court sentences once convicts have served one third.

"ACT has fought this bill all the way and we will continue to campaign for Zero Tolerance on Crime and Truth in Sentencing," Stephen Franks said.

Ends

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