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Why Not Jail For Fines Contempt, Minister?

Why Not Jail For Fines Contempt, Minister?

By supporting the District Court's 90 percent discount on Nathan Bentley's $92,000 in fines, Courts Minister Rick Barker is effectively telling New Zealanders to treat the law as a joke, ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"Mr Barker's fumbling excuses show exactly why unpaid fines and serious youth crime have ballooned under Labour," Mr Franks said.

"No amount of Barker bluster about delay, complexity, court discretions, difficulties getting information, lack of `support' for offenders, or the absence of `early intervention' will disguise the crystal clear message sent to every New Zealander - `The law is a joke. Don't comply. The authorities are so wussy they apologise for bothering offenders. Ignore the police.'

"The Minister's most revealing statement this morning was that the criminal justice system is supposed to `inconvenience' offenders in the `hope' that they will be led to `modify their behaviour'. He and Justice Minister Phil Goff think justice is supposed to work `for the offender'. It isn't. It's supposed to work for the rest of us, those who don't offend, or if they do, pay their fines on time.

"What happened to punishment for people who scoff at the law so they'll never do it again and nor will any of their mates.

"There's a very simple solution to non-payment of fines - it's called imprisonment. Our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents knew all about it. They benefited, with crime rates at a tiny fraction of the levels generated by Justice Minister Phil Goff's play-way justice," Mr Franks said.

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