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ACT’s proposal to further three-strikes policy short-sighted

ACT’s proposal to further three-strikes policy short-sighted, ineffective and expensive

JustSpeak is calling out the ACT Party’s extension of the three-strikes policy as knee-jerk punitivism, political populism and based on a culture of fear, rather than evidence.

Punishment based on deterrence is a disproven, 20th Century idea. Most crimes are not carried out on a calculated cost/benefit analysis.The policy will fail at a practical level by ignoring the realities of crime.

Any appeal this policy has to voters would be based on a knee-jerk retributive reaction rather than evidence of what works to reduce crime and its related social harms. JustSpeak urges all political parties, including the ACT Party, to resist the appeal of populist justice policies in the lead up to this year’s election.

The ACT Party’s proposal is effectively calling for bigger, more expensive – and ineffective – government intervention. JustSpeak notes that the National Party’s Deputy Leader, Bill English, has referred to prisons as a “moral and fiscal failure”, and the National party has made a number of solid investments in alternative approaches to addressing crime.

‘There are smarter and more effective uses of public money’ says spokesperson Lydia Nobbs. ‘These include furthering investment in restorative justice practices, and addressing the socioeconomic inequalities that are often underlying crimes against property’.

‘New Zealand already has an imprisonment rate it should be ashamed of, one of the highest in the OECD. Locking someone away from the community can only ever temporarily address the problem and will not make our society safer in the long run’.

JustSpeak takes particular issue with the ACT Party’s position that young people would be included in this three-strikes for burglary offences. The science of brain development tells us that our young people have a reduced ability to be aware of the consequences of their actions. This means a deterrence-based criminal justice system is likely to be especially ineffective in reducing offending by young people.

Effective justice policy is about prevention of crime, not punishment. ‘Policies that will invariably increase New Zealand’s rate of incarceration should be thrown out not only because they are short-sighted and ineffective, but costly to the taxpayer’.

JustSpeak is a non-partisan network of young people speaking to, and speaking up for a new generation of thinkers who want change in our criminal justice system.


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