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Sentence Reduction Highlights Lies In Court Policy

Sentence Reduction Highlights Policy of 'Lies In Court'

Monday 30 Jun 2003 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today said that the Appeal Court's reduction of the sentence of taxi robber Eneasi Finau, highlights the fraudulence of the Government's claims to be toughening up our criminal law, and how far we are from `truth in sentencing'.

"Finau's original 12-year sentence, for a near fatal attack, has been reduced to 11 - but that tinkering is largely irrelevant. The minimum non-parole period is becoming the critical decision a court makes," Mr Franks said.

"The courts are expressly forbidden to take parole into account when making a sentence unless, in the words of Section 86 `the circumstances take the offence out of the ordinary range of offending of the particular kind'. If the judges can persuade themselves the offence is extraordinary, they can set a minimum non-parole period. Yet they are now routinely setting minimum non-parole periods because they can't help but know what we all know - that the minimum is the real sentence.

"The criminal would have to be truly stupid, or uncooperative, to spend much more than the minimum period in prison.

"In this case, an effective sentence of six-and-a-half years for a nearly successful attempted murder shows that the Government success in not increasing the price for vicious crime while pretending to be tough," Mr Franks said.

ENDS

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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