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Heather du Plessis-Allan: Critics of Three Strikes law are missing the point

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Mon, 22 Apr 2024, 4:20pm

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Critics of Three Strikes law are missing the point

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Mon, 22 Apr 2024, 4:20pm

As promised the government's bringing back the Three Strikes law.

The Prime Minister and the Associate Justice Minister Nicole McKee announced today it’ll be in Cabinet by mid-year.

And they’re changing it just a wee bit. 

One of the criticisms of the law is that it sent a guy to jail for kissing a woman on a street in Wellington without consent, but because it was his third strike, he was sent away for the maximum sentence which was seven years.

But that was way too harsh because he had mental health issues and it was a kiss, which is a pretty low-level indecent assault.

So, this government is fixing that up by only applying the Three Strikes law to higher level crimes. The crimes that would qualify, once sentencing principles are applied, will be for two years in jail or more.

We're talking things like aggravated injury, wounding with intent to injure, indecent assault and so on.  

Now, this is not our first rodeo with the Three Strikes law, is it? So, we already know the arguments about this, don’t we? 

Labour has come out saying it won’t work and it doesn’t deter criminals.

The Greens say it will lead to grossly unfair results that disproportionately impact Māori. 

And probably both are true. But that’s not the point, is it? The critics of this law completely miss the point.

The point of the Three Strikes law is to punish criminals who keep on hurting people.

And that’s okay. We don’t need to apologise for sending bad people to jail.

This is such a good example of how the crime and justice argument has for years lost the plot. This always turns into an argument about the rights and dignity of the criminal.

Is it too hard on them? Is it bad for their rehabilitation?  

Of course, we want to rehabilitate. But that’s an add on. That’s not the reason we put them in jail.

We put them in jail to punish them for what they do and to keep us safe from them.

And if they don’t get the message the first time and they don’t’ get the message the second time, frankly, they should go in longer to keep us safe from them for longer.

So, there is nothing to be ashamed of for, as the Greens say “the Government [being] hell-bent on funnelling more and more people into prisons.” 

If they’re committing serious crimes, repeatedly, that is exactly where they should be funnelled. 

 

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