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ACT Proposal to imprison 3rd time burglars ‘lazy thinking’

ACT Proposal to imprison 3rd time burglars ‘lazy thinking’

ACT’s proposal to expand the ‘three strikes’ concept to send burglars to prison for three years without parole on their third offence, is a prime example of lazy thinking, says Kim Workman, spokesperson for Rethinking Crime and Punishment. “It is unimaginative, has no evidence base, and will almost certainly result in an increase in offending.”

“The concept is flawed for a number of reasons. First, it fails to distinguish between opportunistic youth offending, which often stops at an early age, and the offending of older career burglars. Second, it takes no account of other offending behaviour, or the personal and family circumstances of the offender.

Third, it takes away from the Police and the Judiciary, the freedom to work creatively together to find the most effective ways of dealing with the incident. Fourth, prisoners who are released straight into the community, are more likely to reoffend, than when their time in prison is shortened by a period of parole.

If ACT really believes in less Parliamentary interference, why does it want to give Parliament the right to arbitrarily sentence people to a mandatory term of imprisonment, knowing that it is more likely to increase reoffending?

“We agree that burglaries can be a traumatic experience for householders, but mandatory sentencing without parole is nothing more than an exercise in retribution, and won’t achieve a useful outcome for anyone. A recent 13 year study on the impact of restorative justice conferencing, which compared 400 offenders who had restorative justice conferencing, with 400 who didn’t, found that it reduced reoffending by career burglars by 15.5%, and resulted in very high victim satisfaction.

We are not convinced that the Police treat burglary with sufficient seriousness, but at the same time, consider that the work Police are doing with high-crime families, and ‘target hardening’ is on the right track. It would help if the Police could make householders more aware of the inexpensive technology available to make homes more secure, that would be a good start. Primary crime prevention is always more effective than control and suppression tactics.
ACT needs to be aware that public opinion toward crime and offending has changed significantly in recent years. A recent Ministry of Justice survey of Public Attitudes to Crime, showed that only 5% of respondents agreed that prisons deterred people from committing crime, with the same number advocating for harsher treatment, mostly in the form of longer sentences. If ACT want to clone sentencing practises from the US, then it will find the American public has also changed its views, with a huge shift away from mandatory sentencing, no parole, and the imprisonment of non-violent offenders.

References:
Recent UK study on Restorative Justice: http://www.sheffieldtelegraph.co.uk/news/local/report-shows-restorative-justice-reduces-crime-by-27-1-445477
National Survey of American Public Attitudes on Sentencing and Corrections: http://www.pewstates.org/uploadedFiles/PCS_Assets/2012/PEW_NationalSurveyResearchPaper_FINAL.pdf

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