Three Strikes Bill To Become Law In New Zealand – Updated

Voxy has published an ACT press release announcing that the Three Strikes Bill is to become law, and not before time (see below)

One little known about provision in the bill is that courts will be able to order a life sentence without parole for the worst types of murders, even if the offender has no previous convictions. It is thought that would apply to the the type of brutal murder that Clayton Weatherston committed and we also suspect that it will be used to sentence cop and child killers. For an update to this story please scroll down)

Clayton Weatherston

here’s the press release

“Tuesday, 25 May 2010, 4:22 pm
Press Release: ACT New Zealand

Historic Day As Three Strikes To Become Law

Today is a very significant day in the history of New Zealand’s criminal justice system with ACT’s ‘Three Strikes’ legislation incorporated into the Government’s Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill passing its third and final reading, says ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman David Garrett.

“Since ACT campaigned for ‘Three Strikes’in the 2008 election, four more people have been killed* – who, had ‘Three Strikes’ been in place at the time of the killing, would be alive today. The passing of this Bill is a huge step towards keeping violent, repeat offenders off our streets and keeping New Zealanders safe, Mr Garrett said.

“Both the ACT and National parties are committed to taking a tougher stance on crime, but we also realise that a focus on rehabilitation is equally important. That is why Budget 2010 more than doubled the funding available for rehabilitation programs. One initiative worthy of further enquiry is the concept of a ‘Drug Court’which sends non-violent offenders to rehabilitation rather than jail.

“While rehabilitation is an important step, regrettably, there will always be a number of repeat violent offenders who can’t be reformed. It is these people who, due to their violent history and recidivist behaviour, must be locked away to keep our communities safe. This is the purpose of Three Strikes.

“Today proves that ACT has helped National become a Government of action – one that does not merely talk tough on crime, but is truly committed to keeping New Zealanders safe,” Mr Garrett said.

Note:

Strike One: the offender receives a sentence, as determined by the judge, with parole. The offender will be warned by the judge of the consequences of committing another violent offence.

Strike Two: the offender receives a sentence, as determined by the judge, with no parole. Again the offender is warned of the consequence of committing another violent crime.

Strike Three: the offender will receive the maximum sentence for the crime with no parole unless it is manifestly unjust.

There are 40 listed serious violent offences.

ENDS

Update 30 June 2010

The first person to receive a strike under the new law has just been revealed, as was the nature of his crime – indecent assault, although he is also facing sentence for assaulting his mother.

“An Upper Hutt man has been served with New Zealand’s first warning under the controversial “three strikes” law after being convicted of groping a woman.

Dwyane Christopher Mercer, 32, was convicted in Upper Hutt District Court last week after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting his friend’s partner. Indecent assault is one of 40 serious violent offences that attract “strikes” upon conviction. The law came into force on June 1…

Mercer was also facing sentence for assaulting his mother while he was drunk, she said. His offending over the past 16 years was all alcohol-related. The judge remanded Mercer in custody until the sentencing hearing…

Judge Tom Broadmore warned Mercer he would be given a second strike if he committed another of the 40 offences, and would consequently serve a jail term without parole. A third strike would bring a mandatory maximum sentence for that crime, also with no parole. You will have to tread very carefully in the future,” the judge said.”

Time will tell, this is a guy who thinks nothing of assaulting his own mother. Let’s see what sentence he gets this time before leaping to any conclusions about the efficacy of the new law.

For more about Crime in New Zealand take a look at our Crime Stats page.

*New Zealand has the fifth highest murder rate in the OECD, there are about 100 murders and manslaughters in the country every year.

See also blog posts tagged Violent Crime

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