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Parties Against Truth In Sentencing Must Front Up

ACT Leader Hon Richard Prebble held a press conference in Wellington's Bolton
Street Park today to highlight the violent crimes being committed by offenders
released early from prison.

In March 1997 Peter Howse abducted and sexually violated a Canadian tourist in
the park after being released on parole for murder. "This heinous crime was
one of three sex attacks Howse committed while on parole," said Hon Richard

Richard Prebble said Labour's announcement during the election campaign that
they don't support Truth in Sentencing and won't find the money to keep
dangerous prisoners in jail has made Truth in Sentencing a key election issue.

"Labour says Government can't afford to keep prisoners in jail to serve out
their court-imposed sentences, ACT says we can't afford to let them out. ACT
accepts that our Truth in Sentencing law will mean more prisons and will cost
more money. It will not cost the ridiculous $800 million in three years as
claimed by Labour. Prisons at the moment cost just $240 million per year.

"The vital piece of information is that most crime in New Zealand is committed
by a very small group of recidivists. 80% of those released from jail are
reconvicted within two years. Of course, those offenders commit many other
crimes that they are never apprehended for. Most of them are back in jail
within three years.

"All that ACT is suggesting is that we cut out this "home leave" for
recidivists and make them serve the original court imposed sentence.

"In Australia, where they have tougher sentences and they don't let violent
criminals out after doing just one third of their sentence, the recidivist rate
is just 37%. If we were to match the Australian record then ACT's proposals
would actually save money.

"It is estimated that every prisoner who is released early who re-offends
commits between $140,000 and $250,000 worth of crime.

"What Labour is actually saying is that they would continue to let out the
Peter Howse's of this world. Peter Howse had committed 80 offences, most
assaults on women.

"The present system which is 'lies in sentencing' is putting New Zealanders and
their property at risk. ACT says we must have Truth in Sentencing.

"ACT believes that offenders must serve at least 80% of their court imposed
sentence before they are even considered for parole.

"Regardless of the outcome of this election, ACT wants the early release policy
followed by Labour and National scrapped.

"My Truth in Sentencing Bill will come up for vote in the next Parliament. If
we have a Labour/ Alliance/Green coalition the Bill will be defeated. If the
centre right have a majority my Bill will be law within six months.

"86% of New Zealanders support this Bill and politicians from all parties must
respect that overwhelming call for positive change to the justice system," said
Hon Richard Prebble.


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