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National's Crime Policies Don't Go Far Enough

Tuesday 28 May 2002

National's proposal to go back to its previous law, where violent offenders can be released from jail after two-thirds of their sentence, will not work, ACT leader Richard Prebble says.

"Norm Withers' referendum at the last election was a protest against National's policy of early release for violent criminals," Mr Prebble said.

"National, like Labour, is ignoring research from the Justice Department that shows that early release of prisoners is a rehabilitation policy that has failed. The latest research, released on Friday, states: `More than a third (37%) of inmates were reconvicted of some offence within six months of release, while more than half (58%) were reconvicted within a year ... most inmates (86%) were reconvicted within five years.'

"National's proposal to let out violent offenders after two-thirds of their sentence, and other offenders after 50 percent, will not curb the rising tide of crime.

"ACT is campaigning for Truth-in-Sentencing, where all offenders must serve their full court-imposed sentence, and we are opposed to the policies of the two old parties where politicians can reduce the sentence ordered by the judge.

"ACT is also disappointed at the lack of detailed analysis in National's police policy. We are sceptical of promises by politicians to increase police by a large round number such as 500, without any analysis to show why it should be 500.

"It would have been more credible to have pointed out that there are 58 fewer police in the Auckland Police District, and 23 fewer in Counties Manukau, than when Labour took office - and violent crime, as National accurately states, has increased alarmingly.

"ACT is also disappointed that there is no new thinking in any of National's law and order policies. ACT favours the Zero Tolerance approach which has spectacularly reduced crime in New York. Under this approach, police target entry-level crime such as graffiti and vandalism - the so-called Broken Windows policy.

"This approach requires not only more beat police but also a community policing approach. ACT supports whatever number of extra police are required to implement Zero Tolerance. It might be 500, but as New Zealand has fewer police per head of population than any Australian state, it could be more than 500.

"All that can be said about National's policy is that it's better than Labour's. But the reality is that going back to the old policies won't work because violent crime doubled under National," Mr Prebble said.


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