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ACT Promises Tougher Sentencing

ACT New Zealand has made tougher sentencing the centrepiece of the Party's Justice policy announced today.

ACT Leader Richard Prebble said the key areas of concern to ACT and to New Zealanders are criminals being let out of jail after serving just one third of their time and bails laws that see dangerous criminals released into the community.

"Americans are safer in their homes and on their streets in the US than New Zealanders are. While some reported offences are down, overall the country has been hit by a violent wave of crime. ACT accepts the causes of crime are complex and we have new ideas to tackle both crime and its causes. ACT is the only Party that has policies that are tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.

"We know that letting criminals out of jail after they have served just one third of their sentence is wrong, it does not work and it is unfair to New Zealanders and their families.

"ACT wants to save money on crime. Over 40% of early release prisoners re-offend within a year and over 70% within three years. It is estimated that every prisoner who is released early who re-offends commits between $140,000 and $250,000 worth of crime. You cannot bash, rape or burgle if you are in prison. A very small group of repeat offenders are committing most of the crime. The Police have estimated that just 200 burglars committed 50,000 of last year's 80,000 burglaries.

"The early release policy followed by successive governments is a dangerous failure. ACT says we must have Truth in Sentencing. If you do the crime, ACT says you will do the time.

"My Private Members Bill will require all offenders to serve at least 80%of their court imposed sentence. ACT wants to make a positive change to the Justice system to ensure that it is fair to all.

"ACT wants to go further. ACT wants the next Parliament to look at setting up a Sentencing Commission to give solid guidelines to Judges when sentencing criminals. The Courts have ignored Parliament's wishes. At present, Judges are inconsistent and out of touch with public opinion. A Sentencing Commission would ensure that the views of the community are heard in the justice system.

"ACT will also insist that the Crown appeals all soft sentencing by judges.

"ACT says too many people let out on bail are committing crimes. Our bail laws are too lenient and bail is too often a revolving door. We will toughen bail and parole conditions.

ACT will ensure better compensation and support for victims of crime. ACT will also cap the amount spent on legal aid and tighten its administration and support an over haul of the court system to guarantee fairer access to justice for all. ACT is the only Party prepared to get tough with criminals," said Hon Richard Prebble.


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