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'Life' Should Mean Just That

'Life' Should Mean Just That

Wairarapa people are absolutely right to be outraged that mass murderer Raymond Ratima is eligible for a parole hearing - he was given a life sentence, and there is no reason why he should not remain locked up for life, ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"Ratima's life sentence will make no difference. Justice Minister Phil Goff's Sentencing Act and Parole Act were designed as a package, to make the court's headline sentencing look tough, while the prison back door let criminals like Ratima out as fast as they were put in," Mr Franks said.

"We cannot blame the Parole Board for this. The Board can do only what the law tells it to -which is to release Ratima as soon as he no longer poses an `undue risk to the safety of the community'.

"Board members are not allowed to let their duty to release be outweighed by the judge's sentencing reasons, victim outrage, the community's need to see a price for crime, deterrence, denunciation, or anything else ordinary people assume justice will deliver.

"Mr Goff has deliberately designed parole to make sentencing in open court a charade to pacify punters - while the real sentence is actually decided, behind closed doors, by the Minister's appointees on the Parole Board.

"Ratima's judge had to explain and justify the sentencing - but the Parole Board answers to no one. No one in the Wairarapa will ever get to see the reports or evidence that might persuade the Board to let Ratima walk free - let alone challenge it, or have the opportunity to cross examine on it.

"The Ratima case is just another in the endless procession of cases showing the Labour establishment's contempt for ordinary people's sense of justice," Mr Franks said.

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