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Rights of offenders have helped increase the crime rate

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Rights of offenders have helped increase the crime rate

Opinion by Gil Elliott representing the Sensible Sentencing Trust

Professor James Wilson an American academic who died recently said “we have trifled with the wicked”.

In his research he discovered that in America the murder rate in 1960 was just under half of what it had been in the 1930’s

Yes the rate was declining and further he found that poverty and lack of employment had no bearing on the crime rate.

In the late 1960’s the ‘Miranda’ warning was introduced – “You have the right to remain silent…..” and opined that “it was as if we were engaged in some kind of sporting contest with the criminal and must give him a chance to beat the rap, even when he is guilty.

Exactly the same set of circumstances exists in New Zealand – we too have been trifling with the wicked!

How is this?

Well firstly we also use the Miranda warning which Prof Wilson implies was the start of the down hill slide in the crime rate and especially in homicides.

We also unlike our nearest neighbours the Australians, have a Bill of Rights Act. This Act follows the rights that the United Nations saw fit to espouse following the Nuremberg trials

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (NZBORA) gives many rights to all criminals including murderers. In fact many more rights than law abiding citizens enjoy.

Lawyers are familiar with the NZBORA, but some citizens, perhaps many citizens will not be and some may never have heard of the Bill of Rights.

For example examining only three sections of the NZBORA we see that Section 8 ‘Guarantees everyone the right not to be deprived of life…”. This obviously doesn’t apply to murdered victims.

Section 9, ‘Guarantees everyone the right not to be subjected to torture or to cruel, degrading or disproportionately severe treatment or punishment…’ This too obviously does not apply to assaulted or murdered victims.

Finally Section 23 states that ‘everyone deprived of liberty (offenders therefore) has the right to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the person’. But definitely not like they treated their victim.

The exploding murder rate in this country the Sensible Sentencing Trust says, is a direct result of offender friendly legislation.


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