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Smith: Hold all criminals financially responsible

Tuesday, 5 October, 2004

Smith: Hold all criminals financially responsible

All offenders whose crimes inflict a loss on another person should be subject to reparation orders even if they're jail-bound, penniless and unemployed, United Future justice spokesman Murray Smith said today.

"This should be automatic, regardless of the financial circumstances of the criminal at the time of sentencing," Mr Smith said. Currently judges decide if reparation is viable and often put no order in place.

"And it may not be at all viable at the time of sentencing, but it is an important principle that offenders be truly held responsible for the damage they do," Mr Smith said after taking the matter up with Justice Minister Phil Goff in Parliament today.

"If it's a million dollars worth of damage, then let it be a million dollars worth of reparation, and as large as that may be, if after seven years some attempt has been made to address those costs, they can be reviewed or wiped.

"If no attempt has been made, then the reparation order stays in place," Mr Smith said.

"Jail time is a punishment, but it does absolutely nothing for the victim," he said.

"There needs to be a very clear message out there - if you do damage, you pay for it."

ENDS

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