Scrapping ‘Three Strikes Law’ a deadly mistake

Simeon Brown

The Labour Government has created chaos around whether it or not it will repeal the ‘Three Strikes Law.’

Justice Minister Andrew Little made a strong stance against the Rule, but only a few days later was forced to stand down from his position, as New Zealand First refused to back the change.

This policy, which was introduced in 2010, states that repeat violent offenders will not be eligible for parole for their second offence.

While these policy shifts may appear to be ‘progressive’ in the ivory tower that is the Beehive, in reality, they would be putting everyday New Zealanders at risk.

Need for intervention

National is grounded on the principle of personal responsibility and we continue to believe that if an individual persistently endangers those around them, the government must step in. The current rise of aggravated robbery for small shop and dairy owners, along with others, means the Government should be doing more to protect business owners, not less.

Policies of this kind, founded on ideological precepts rather than an understanding of everyday life, highlight again the naivety of this Government.

Criminal Justice has evolved significantly over recent decades.

Shifting away from retributive and punitive policies of previous eras, the New Zealand Police and the Department of Corrections continue to promote means by which prisoners can be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.

False contention

However, laws such as the ‘Three Strike Rule’ do not contradict this.

Over the years, from 2010 to 2018, only two persons were given a third strike.

It took six years after the law was initially implemented for an offender to be given their third strike. The argument that the Three Strikes legislation is contributing to prison overcrowding is patently false.

This is not about denying some of the underlying causes of crime and the difficulties that those in crime at times face; ultimately, it is about removing two of the most dangerous and repetitive criminals from within our communities and deterring others from similar paths.

The law pertains exclusively to those who have been repetitive offenders and includes 40 of the worst offences we see such as murder, sexual violation, abduction, and aggravated robbery that count as a strike under the law.

Removing the deterrent factor

During the tenure of this law, there has been a 34% drop of reoffending for offenses of this kind. By threatening to remove this legislation, the Government would be removing a significant incentive to not reoffend. Taking this Law away turns our Police and Corrections officers into pawns of an unfortunate game of ‘catch-and-release’, where deterrence to not reoffend is negligible.

If by an individual’s third violent offence they have not responded to rehabilitation and continue to offend, then we should not be considering them for parole.

While the Labour coalition has a laudable goal of reducing the prison population, changing the ‘Three Strikes Legislation’ is not the answer. The reality is that the Three Strike legislation is working.

More work needs to be done to address underlying causes and incentives to crime, but by going soft on crime, the Government is putting your safety at risk.

National has committed to retaining the Three Strikes legislation, highlighting the serious responsibility we believe the government has to ensure all its citizens are kept safe.

Simeon Brown is elected Member of Parliament from Pakuranga in East Auckland.

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