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Huata Addresses Sensible Sentencing Rally

Monday 1 Jul 2002

ACT Education Spokesman MP Donna Awatere Huata today spoke to a Sensible Sentencing Rally of victims' families and concerned New Zealanders outside the Napier court appearance of the man accused with murdering Teresa Cormack.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust held a rally because Labour's sentencing and parole `reform' legislation comes into effect today.

"Today is a sickening day for every New Zealander who voted for tougher penalties for criminals in the Norm Withers Referendum.

"Labour's cynical sentencing and parole changes reduce the minimum non-parole period for our worst criminals from two-thirds of a sentence to one-third.

"Last election 92% of New Zealand voters wanted more justice for victims and tougher sentences for violent crime. Despite promises to act, Labour delayed doing anything for more than 4/5ths of their term. Then they delivered changes that from today will weaken our sentencing and parole system.

"While Labour procrastinated, violent crime has increased 14.9% since the 1999 general election.

"Labour's legislation cements our country's disastrous thirty-year experiment of trying to fit sentences to the "criminogenic needs" of the criminals, and not the crime. From today, officials have the power to determine what sentences are served, where and for how long. As of today, politicians and officials can block any judge who might be tempted to respond to community concerns with tougher penalties.

"Criminals are being treated as first-class citizens by this Government, while victims are treated as annoying obstructions to criminals' "rights". While offenders may demand that the Court hears their family or whänau representative on sentencing there is no parallel right for victims. Victims can't comment on or recommend a sentence. They are confined to complaining about their loss.

"Today is a sad day, and especially upsetting for victims of crime," Mrs Awatere Huata said.


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