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Judges Expose Minister's Deceit Over New Law

Judges Expose Minister's Deceit Over New Law

Monday 22 Jul 2002

ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today that Judges are exposing the Government's deceit in the new Sentencing Act.

"They have already pointed out that the new Act does not allow them to pass tougher sentences. This highlights Justice Minister Phil Goff's deceit over the new law.

"It is highly unusual to have three Judges separately complain about the law - but we've already had three speaking out in the Sentencing Act's first three weeks of operation.

"However, Phil Goff is continuing to try to deceive New Zealanders that the new law is tougher. He's pretending he did not expect judges would have so much trouble with it. He must have known it told the Judges to be soft. ACT has been pointing out since last year that the `tough' bits in the law were just chocolate cosmetics on a marsh-mellow centre.

"In a statement today Mr Goff has for the second time suggested he may make changes to the legislation.

"Why now? ACT promoted over 160 amendment clauses to the sentencing and parole legislation to try and make the new law do what Mr Goff claimed it would. He accepted only two of the amendments.

"It appears Mr Goff hoped the Judges wouldn't discover the extent of the flaws in the new legislation until after the election. He clearly never expected the judges to be so vocal, or that the whole mess would land back on his desk this quickly.

"Let's again look at what Mr Goff's new law has done:

1. It reduces the violent offender's non-parole period to one-third of the sentence.

2. It cuts every short term prison sentence in half.

3. It cuts the minimum preventative detention sentence from 10 years to five.

4. It cements concurrent sentencing in place, meaning that violent criminals can commit one murder and then get the next one virtually free.

"This is not what 92 percent of New Zealanders voted for at the last election. ACT has said consistently and we say again, we are the only party truly for zero tolerance for crime and for truth in sentencing. If you do the crime you must do the time," Stephen Franks said.


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