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Sentencing Law Failing The Test

22 July 2002

Sentencing Law Failing The Test

There is no point the Justice Minister claiming his new Sentencing Act needs a 'settling down' period, when the law itself is so seriously flawed, says National's Justice spokesperson, Wayne Mapp.

"Phil Goff can't ignore the fact that two High Court judges have now questioned the law around offenders being allowed to apply for parole after serving a third of their prison time.

"Justice Priestly spoke of "profound unease" at an offender being back on the street after serving three years and four months for sexual violation, while Judge Strettell last week criticised the law for restricting his ability to protect society from a "totally out-of-control" teenager.

"This should ring alarm bells, but all Phil Goff can lamely say is that he'll look at reviewing the legislation to see if judges are applying it properly. This completely misses the point because the problem is the law itself.

"The Minister had plenty of opportunity to fix it to meet the needs of New Zealanders but he completely ignored them.

"What he should have done is what National will do - ensure that no violent offender is eligible for parole until they've served at least two thirds of their sentence, and only then if it is safe to release them," says Dr Mapp.


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