The Government has ditched its planned repeal of the three strikes law because of objections by New Zealand First, Justice Minister Andrew Little has announced.
“I acknowledge New Zealand First has concerns about the three strikes repeal,” Little said.
“The strength of this coalition is that change only occurs with the support of all three parties.”
Under the law, which was passed by the National-led Government in 2010, a person with three warnings after serious violent, sexual or drugs convictions can be sentenced to the maximum jail time without parole.
Little had been intending to take a proposal to Cabinet to repeal the law but has announced he will no longer do so.
“Further work on a balanced reform package for a more effective criminal justice system that make our communities safer will be considered by the independent advisory panel to be appointed shortly, and progressed in August at the Criminal Justice Summit,” the Justice Minister said.
“We are committed to a meaningful and balanced programme of change and we will be consulting our coalition partners and the public on this over the coming months.
“The reality is that the justice system is not working and we need to make changes to make our communities safer.”
Little said NZ First was “totally committed”, along with Labour, to fix the justice system, but the coalition partner did not support repealing the three strikes law.
“We have to reform our justice system if we want safer communities,” Little told reporters.
Today the Herald reported that families of victims caught up in some of the country’s most high-profile cases of violence, sexual abuse and murder were calling for the Government to ditch its proposed repeal of the three strikes law.
An open letter was to be presented to Justice Minister Andrew Little today in the hopes he will change his mind about proposals going to Cabinet this week to repeal the hardline law and order policy.
The changes would also have seen more offenders serving sentences in the community rather than behind bars.
Under the law, which passed in 2010, a person with three warnings for serious violent, sexual or drugs offending can be sentenced to maximum jail time without parole.
The letter – published in today’s Herald – was connected with the Sensible Sentencing Trust and signed by mostly relatives of people who have been killed or severely abused by offenders.
For every relative’s name is a victim’s name – many of which are chillingly familiar: Sophie Elliott, Michael Choy, Philip Nisbet and 17-year-old Augustine Borrell, who was stabbed to death outside a party in Herne Bay.
“We, the undersigned, are all personally the victims of serious violent crime or close relatives of someone killed, maimed or sexually abused,” the letter reads.
“We are all deeply concerned about the proposals to repeal the three-strikes law, make bail easier and generally to let people out of prison who need to be there.
“We believe the proposed changes are misconceived, misguided and certain to create more members of the club to which we, the undersigned, all belong – the club which no one wants to join.”
Charlie Borrell, whose teenage son Augustine was murdered by Haiden Davis in 2007, said Little’s announcement was a big relief and felt common sense had prevailed.”
I thought wow that’s fantastic news. I suppose there’s some commonsense there.”
Borrell said two-thirds of the population supported three strikes in the polls so was pleased NZ First has listened.
“The results are showing there has been a reduction in second strikers under the three strikes law.”
For him personally, he said it meant her could breathe a little bit better. “I’m a lot more happier. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing another family go through what we did during out time. So it’s just a bit of a sigh of relief.”
Davis would be released next year and Borrell said his biggest fear was bumping into him in the community.
Source : New Zealand Herald