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Parole Act an Insulting Memorial to Nan Withers

Sentencing and Parole Act an Insulting Memorial to Nan Withers

Tuesday 2 Jul 2002 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice -- Zero Tolerance for Crime

The commencement of the Sentencing and Parole Act is an insulting memorial to the memory of Nan Withers who was attacked while alone in her shop five years ago today, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"Nan Withers' son Norm was so infuriated when he found the brutal criminal had been released early from previous sentences, that he put his heart and soul into a petition seeking tougher punishment and more concern for victims. Norm Withers' petition became the referendum question which got the 92% yes vote at the 1999 election.

"Instead of toughening up on crime, the Ministers of Justice & Corrections have made our criminal law weaker. Judges lose powers to give suspended sentences, and to order non-association to attack gang recruitment. All sentences under two years are automatically cut in half. Minimum preventive detention is cut from 10 years to 5 years. The Parole Board must let prisoners out if they think they are not "an undue risk to the safety of the community" even if they have paid only a third of the court ordered price for the crime. The Parole Board is not allowed to even take into account a judge's deterrent intentions.

"Meanwhile the Ministers have suppressed the results of last year's victimisation survey, which was supposed to be released more than a month ago. They say the figures "need more work" and will not be available until well after the election.

"In the end Nan Withers will not have suffered that awful brutality for nothing - because New Zealanders will make their referendum stick. A party vote for ACT will be a referendum the other politicians cannot ignore," Mr Franks said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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