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Peters Confused Over Law And Order Policy

26 June 2002

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters appears to have reversed his law and order policy within the space of a week.

“Mr Peters today outlined a bewildering ‘three strikes and you’re out’ plan where minor reoffenders will be thrown into prison for ten years without remission.

“Yet just a week ago he said this approach was not the answer;

“…you look at other political parties and they say, lock them away, throw the key away and we’ll solve it. That has never worked anywhere in the world and it won’t work here.” – 7:45am 18 June, Newstalk ZB Holmes Breakfast Show.

“Just where Mr Peters stands on the issue then is a mystery. Today’s announcement to lock up minor offenders for ten years would involve hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to imprison people who constitute little risk for periods longer than for those sent to jail for serious offences such as rape and robbery.

“Another contradiction is that Mr Peters gives the impression that sentences should be served in full, a policy likely to cost in excess of $1 billion.

“He then however states that the Parole Board can give early release for good behaviour but omits the key ground under the new Parole Act which states that early release can only be considered if such release would not put community safety at risk.

“Mr Peters also needs to do his homework. He says his party would lower the age of criminal responsibility and accountability to 14. The fact is the current age of criminal responsibility is already 14 and 10 for murder and manslaughter.

“New Zealand First also apparently believes that well-off white collar offenders should be more leniently treated than their blue collar equivalents. Yet the money stolen by white collar fraudsters who hold respectable and well paid positions in society is frequently more than the value of that lost to blue-collar offenders.

“Mr Peters talks of a ‘rising tide of lawlessness’ about to engulf us and a ‘crime wave’. Police statistics however point to the opposite – that crime has fallen over the past few years and is at its lowest level for 13 years with burglaries at the lowest level for 20 years.

“Other polices promised by Mr Peters have in fact already been implemented. Automatic release at two thirds of sentence has been abolished by the Sentencing Act. There is already in the new Act a strong presumption that reparation be paid with judges being required to give reasons if it is not ordered,” Mr Goff said.

Ends

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