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Death Penalty Distraction

Death Penalty Distraction

Thursday 15 Jul 2004

Stephen Franks

Press Releases - Crime & Justice

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today declined to support the death penalty, but said he had no objection to the idea that some crimes deserved it.

"There is a legitimate question as to whether justice can ever be done in some cases without it," Mr Franks said.

"Most cultures see a levelling of the scales, or restoration of balance, as an essential justice element. It's not simply `an eye for an eye' or ` tooth for a tooth'. There's something repugnant to every culture in seeing wrongdoers left better off after the crime than the victim.

"Nevertheless, I cannot advocate the death penalty as part of our essential criminal justice reform, as there are so many sincere people who would cease to support the justice system.

"There are far more useful reforms to spend our political capital on. If all that energy went into fighting for the justice of the death penalty it could simply result in hung juries, judges distorting the law to avoid conviction and even witnesses refusing to testify.

"There is plenty of useful work to do, going far beyond Dr Brash's recent announcements. Those who want to debate justice issues can spend the time on issues like giving adult sentences for adult crimes, ending name and record suppression for guilty young offenders and their families, and strengthening the law of self-defence," Mr Franks said.


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