Justice bill doesn’t tackle causes of crime

Published: Tue 5 Dec 2006 04:42 PM
Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman
5 December 2006
Justice bill doesn’t tackle causes of crime
The Government’s Criminal Justice Reform Bill is more about stopping the increase in the prison population than it is about preventing crime in the first place, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.
The bill is expected to be introduced to Parliament today.
It creates a Sentencing Council which is designed to create consistency for the judiciary regarding sentencing, and amends the Bail Act, Sentencing Act, Parole Act, and Prisoners’ and Victims’ Claims Act.
“The public needs to be convinced that the Sentencing Council will not become the DHB of the justice sector – that the Government will not use it as a source of blame when the public is unhappy at sentences handed down.
“It could also undermine the discretion of the judiciary which, if the Government wanted to go down that path, should be done by legislation not by a new bureaucracy.
“The bill also introduces home detention as a sentence in its own right and increases parole to two-thirds of a sentence.
“But the problem is that at the same time it shortens sentences by 25%. This is not what the public wanted when 92% of them voted for longer sentences in 1999.
“This is part of the Government’s ‘catch-and-release’ policy, which is designed to ease pressure on the prisons system, and that is something the public will not be impressed with at all.
“Shifting offenders from prison onto home detention and electronic monitoring makes absolutely no difference to the number of crimes being committed.
“National will oppose this bill – which creates a new bureaucracy to blame, and shorter sentences for prisoners – at first reading.
“If it makes it to the select committee, we will listen with interest to submissions.”

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