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Time To Make Punishment Fit The Crime

Wednesday 20 Oct 2004

Time To Make Punishment Fit The Crime

Dr Muriel Newman

Press Releases - Crime & Justice - Zero Tolerance for Crime

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader and Police Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today urged Parliament to support her Sentencing (Community Sentencing to Fit the Crime) Private Members Bill through its first reading and help send it to the Select Committee stage.

"Labour's Sentencing Act turned sentencing into a charade, leaving judges almost powerless in their sentencing capacity. My Bill will restore sentencing to its original purpose - a punishment that fits the crime," Dr Newman said.

"The Act has restricted judges in the use of community sentencing and supervision for punishment purposes - they can order supervision in an offender's interests, and to prevent further offending, but supervision cannot last more than two years.

"It removed and narrowed judges' discretion to fit supervision and community work sentences to the crime - judges can't order an accountant to keep a charity's books, even if that's how the accountant wants to work off the crime. Judges have also lost much of their power to ban offenders from associating with other criminals, or gang members. My Bill:

· restores judges' discretion to use supervision for punishment, as well as in the interests of the offender;

· enables judges to impose supervision conditions against causes of crime by requiring random alcohol or drug testing;

· allows judges to stipulate non-association terms as conditions of supervision, so they cannot associate with gangs or other known criminals

· ensures judges can stipulate extended supervision at the end of prison sentences;

· provides for supervision sentences to be cumulative instead of concurrent;

· restores judges' powers to stipulate where community work will be done and to impose conditions on it;

"The Sentencing and Parole Acts have harmed our justice system. Judges may assess depravity, and a need to denounce a crime, but can only reflect an offender's interests and prospects of re-offending in sentencing. And it is Probation Officers who decide the significant elements - the where, when, how, with who and what - of community sentencing.

"I'm calling on all Parliamentarians to support my Bill to a Select Committee, so the public can have a say on this important mater. Only when we reinstate court control over punishment, and enhance Probation Service powers to ensure discipline in community work, will we be able restore real justice to New Zealand," Dr Newman said.


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