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For Sale: Labour Justice

For Sale: Labour Justice

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today slammed the Labour Government for placing the courts in a position where sensible acknowledgement of remorse looks like putting justice up for sale, in light of reports that many criminals have won reduced sentences by offering to pay victims off.

"Media reports today have shown that, last year, 12,282 criminals offered to pay an estimated $13.2 million to `right their wrongs' - many have had their sentences reduced, and then not paid," Mr Franks said.

"We told the Government this would happen when they made the new law, and tried to stop it. The Government blocked the ACT amendment to make these offers enforceable as court orders, and to allow judges to fix a higher sentence to be served if the criminal reneged on the offer.

"The `buying justice' issue is awkward. While remorse should be a precondition of any justice system concession - for example, parole should not even be considered for criminals not prepared to act remorseful - judges must be able to recognize the difference between the remorseless criminal, and the person who is desperately sorry and wants to make amends.

"No one should be able to expect to buy a reduced sentence. Rather, they should know that if they have the means, yet have not offered amends, the sentence will be harsher. If that means the rich pay more than the poor - tough. They should have thought of that," Mr Franks said.

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