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Givens’ Understanding Of Three Strikes Lacking

Givens’ Understanding Of Three Strikes Lacking
Press Release by David Garrett MP, ACT New Zealand
Monday, May 17 2010

Recent claims by visiting Reverend Ron Givens, former director of the State Chaplains Association in California, serve to demonstrate his complete lack of understanding of the proposed 'Three Strikes' law," ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman David Garrett said today.

"This past weekend, in a number of media interviews, Reverend Givens completely misrepresented both the 'Three Strikes' law currently in place in California and that proposed for New Zealand," Mr Garrett said.

"Yesterday, TV3 screened a statement by Rev Givens claiming that California has ‘experienced no rate of crime decrease in any category whatsoever’. Whether this comment was due to poor editing by TV3 or ignorance on the part of Rev Givens is unclear. However, this claim is not supported by official statistics issued by the California Departments of Justice and Corrections which show that, since the introduction of 'Three Strikes' in 1994, crime has dropped 50 percent.

"He went on to describe the gross unfairness of the California law during a Radio New Zealand interview and used the example of an individual sentenced to 25 years to life for stealing a candy bar. Not once did he mention that this would be impossible under New Zealand’s legislation, which targets only the most serious violent offences – such as murder, rape, or kidnapping. Sentences under New Zealand's law are also specifically related to the crime and there is no 25 year to life sentence.

“Rev Givens also argued that offenders facing their third strike, and having nothing left to lose, will take desperate measures – such as harming witnesses, police officers etc – in order to avoid prosecution. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that this has occurred in California.

"Rev Givens misrepresents the 'Three Strikes' law in California and does not understand the one proposed in New Zealand. As such, his claims must be met with a high level of scepticism," Mr Garrett said.


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