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3 strikes law could increase murders – Nats’ secret official advice

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 am, April 20th, 2010 - 154 comments
Categories: accountability, crime, john key, national - Tags: ,

Curious as to why Simon Power suddenly stopped being lead minister on the ‘three strikes’ legislation, we sent off an Official Information Act request to his office. When the deadline for that request was extended beyond the usual 20 working days, we knew something was up.

This is not some minor piece of scandal, or some breach of good process to shake our heads at. It’s much worse.

The following passage is from Ministry of Justice advice marked ‘sensitive’ that Power received on December 16th last year – Power was replaced as lead minister by Judith Collins soon after and the Ministry of Justice, incredibly, was prevented from giving evidence to the select committee.

Now, you’ll see what National was so desperate to keep secret:

(pdfs of docs: 3 strikes OIA homicide increase 3 strikes OIA homicide increase single page and 3 strikes OIA cover pages)

We don’t need to tell you how serious this is.

While they have been telling us that three strikes will reduce serious offending, the Government has been warned by its own officials that its three strikes policy may lead to people being murdered. Its reaction was not to drop the policy but to muzzle the officials and try to keep this secret from New Zealand.

We are sickened.

The revelation that three strikes may increase the homicide rate was contained in the last paper Simon Power received as minister responsible for the policy before it was handed over to Judith Collins.

We have no doubt that this is the reason that Power refused to be lead minister on this policy any longer. For his faults, he is basically a decent man and there is no way he would have been able to face championing a policy. Collins appears to have no such moral qualms.

Three strikes must be abandoned now before it gets anyone killed.

And Collins and John Key have the most serious of questions to answer.

What kind of government, what kind of people, are they to try to put into place a law that may lead to more murders?

How many lives are they willing to gamble with to appear tough on crime and win a few more votes?

154 comments on “3 strikes law could increase murders – Nats’ secret official advice”

  1. Felicity 1

    oh, dear god. What kind of people are running our country? How could they pass a law like this knowing it will get more people murdered?

    You’re right, I am utterly sickened.

    • TightyRighty 1.1

      Felicity, turning something that “may” happen, into something that “will” with nothing more than an lack of comprehension is unlikely to make anyone else sickened, and could you please stop clogging up our nations health system?

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    The idea that three strikes laws increase the murder rate has been around for awhile. It may have been in the 1990s when I first heard of it. The theory is quite simple:

    The criminal has two options:
    1.) Let the person who can identify him go and end up in prison for the rest of their life or
    2.) Kill that person and have a higher possibility of not being caught

    Being caught for murder has the same result as being caught for the lessor crime – the rest of their life in prison. The rational decision then is to kill the person who can identify them.

    What kind of government, what kind of people, are they to try to put into place a law that may lead to more murders?

    They’re psychopaths.

    • Marty G 2.1

      yeah. that’s the logic.

      What’s important here is it’s not just theory or some academic. This is the official advice from the ministry that will be responsible for the law should it be passed (and I do believe it will be stopped now).

      And we can see that National knows how serious this is by their reaction: Power replaced by Collins, Justice barred from submitting to the select committee for fear they’ll repeat this advice.

    • Those options don’t apply to the New Zealand Three Strikes law, which doesn’t impose mandatory life sentences, except for homicide.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1

        Of course they do. Nothing is black and white and my use of “rest of their life” is merely indicative of a longer sentence. If the sentence is the same or similar then murder becomes the rational option.

      • Ari 2.2.2

        The advice was that this dilemma may be applicable to New Zealand, so I don’t see how you got that it isn’t applicable. ;)

        • Bright Red 2.2.2.1

          I don’t think Graeme is disagreeing with Justice’s advice. He’s making a pedantic point about what Draco wrote.

          • Graeme Edgeler 2.2.2.1.1

            No. I’m largely disagreeing with the advice (or at least) disagreeing about the validity that advice has with respect to the bill as it now stands.

            This advice will have been advice tendered in respect of the initial bill – which did mandate life sentences for all qualifying third strikes. It will have raised concerns based on evidence in respect of US studies that showed that mandatory life sentences for all third strikes could result in a higher homicide rate.

            Advice on the bill was then transferred to the Police, and the bill changed substantially – removing both the qualifying sentence regime (a retrograde step, in my opinion) and the mandatory life sentences for all third strike convictions (a good step).

            The applicability of these concerns to the new bill, which now differs markedly from the laws the US research being quoted from was analysing the effects of is now rather uncertain. If that research concluded that imposing mandatory life sentences for non-homicide felonies increased the homicide rate, it would not be particularly analagous to the New Zealand situation as it now stands.

    • Mike 2.3

      Yes, you’ve got it, although I would add only one further explanation – those who are most likely to be affected by the 3 Strikes legislation (the gang members and assorted sociopaths) will now have no reason to apply restraint – as the phrase goes, “Go Large”.

      I.E. – If you’re going to go down, why not take a few with you? Look forward to more Police getting killed, along with bystanders.

  3. snoozer 3

    the right are going to try to run one obvious defence of this disgusting behaviour.

    ‘you’ve got to break egg some omelettes to make an egg, it’s like designing a road, you know people will die on it’

    To which the answer is: if you designed a road that increased the number of people killed, you would be in deep trouble and designing criminal policy isn’t like designing a road – there should be no risk of a new law leading to more murders. It’s simply unacceptable.

    • Marty G 3.1

      ‘there should be no risk of a new law leading to more murders. It’s simply unacceptable.’

      and the Nats know that’s how every decent Kiwi will feel. That’s why they tried to keep this secret.

    • illuminatedtiger 3.2

      No, they’re probably going to claim the document was hacked by Nicky Hager…

  4. felix 4

    I’m sure the NACTs will act swiftly to remedy this. By which of course I mean rewrite the OIA to make sure they don’t caught like this again.

    • Luxated 4.1

      Aye, I foresee that there will be levels of ‘secret’ document which you can’t submit an OIA on. The conditions to meet this level of secret will have to be suitably low of course, can’t have the proles informed now they might catch on.

    • the sprout 4.2

      exactly. they’re all band aids and no cure

  5. tsmithfield 5

    You forgot to mention the rest of the advice in the article:

    “May have had an effect on reducing overall crime rates
    May have had a deterent effect on individual offenders”

    If you hold the third point valid then you are bound to hold the first two points valid as well since the strength of the assertions is similar.

    • Pascal's bookie 5.1

      What’s your point there smitty?

      That it was shocking for this to be hidden away right there in the post.
      That a few extra dead people is an acceptable price to pay for a lower overall crime rate.

      Or what?

    • Eddie 5.2

      ah, ts, that’ll be the ‘break some eggs’ excuse. How predictable.

      we didn’t try to hide the fact that those pieces of advice are there, sherlock, it’s plain as day in our post but we didn’t think they’re sufficient to justify risking an increase in the number of murders.

      how many lives are you willing to put at risk?

    • snoozer 5.3

      So that make’s it f%cken ok does it ts?

      you’re quite happy to risk more murders on the chance that it might reduce some other offences?

      Is this really the best you expect from your piece of sh!t government. They can’t even come up with a crime policy that just reduces crime. Instead we’re facing with this unthinkable trade-off. What do you think the formula will be? ten fewer assualts for one more murder? fifty to one?

      or what ratio is ok by you?

    • Mutante 5.4

      How good of you to point that out Smithfield.

      I for one would gladly be murdered if it stopped someone tagging a fence or knocking over a dairy. Where do I line up for my stabbing?

  6. Jenny 6

    By: THE STANDARD – Date published: 12:00 am, April 20th, 2010

    “…….we sent off an Official Information Act request to his office. When the deadline for that request was extended beyond the usual 20 working days, we knew something was up.”

    Good work by The Standard, let’s hope our parliamentary opposition can pick up the ball.

    • lprent 6.1

      Unusually, it was a effort by a number of the authors. So they’ve presented as a group writing as The Standard.

      It is certainly kicking the traffic levels up this morning

  7. Watermelon 7

    @tsmithfield, you could have quoted the rest of the first point instead of concentrating on the bit you liked:

    May have had an effect in reducing overall crime rates, which is more likely to be due to deterence than incapacitation given the small number of offenders imprisoned under most states’ laws. There is also evidence that any deterrent effect is no more pronounced in states with wider ranging laws, such as California, than states with less severe laws;”

    Which is what most sane people have been pointing out. “3 strikes and you are out!” only works in baseball.

  8. Gooner 8

    Might, may, could.

    Hey, that sounds like the IPCC reports!

    Anyway, at least you got it under the OIA. If Helen Simpson was in charge still (or Heather Clark), you’d be waiting months, and months, and months.

    • Marty G 8.1

      so, you’re ok with the risk that a crime policy, a policy that is meant to reduce crime may lead to more people being murdered?

      you’re honestly ok with that, gooner?

      you think that’s an acceptable risk?

      • TightyRighty 8.1.1

        your honestly ok with more people suffering from the depravations of crime marty? you honestly believe that on the off chance of something really bad possibly happening, we shouldn’t do anything at all? We should just leave criminals to rob, rape and steal because we are afraid that might lash out and do something even worse?

        • Marty G 8.1.1.1

          False dichotomy, Tighty.

          Crime policy is not a choice between more murders for fewer burglaries. Not with any decent policy.

          Have you ever heard of a crime policy that a government has implemented knowing it increases crime?

          Any decent crime policy would reduce all crimes, not increase the most serious of them.

          There is to my mind no acceptable trade off here. I’m not willing to say ‘one murder for a hundred burglaries is ok’.

          Maybe you are. Maybe you think it’s ok to ‘break a few eggs’ (because you don’t have the imagination to think they’ll ever be someone you know) but I’m not. But well, we’re very different people.

          • TightyRighty 8.1.1.1.1

            Disambiguous marty, i never said any of that. i saw how you led into it though, right there in the thrid paragraph

            “Have you ever heard of a crime policy that a government has implemented knowing it increases crime?”

            I’m going to assume that you left out a word, by inserting “could” in between “it” and “increases”, oh wait, “increases”, so it was deliberate of you wasn’t it marty? to abandon your original position and go on to asserting that it will increase murders. despite the fact your evidence says it only could. i don’t need to go on arguing the rest of the your comment. it was based on that false premise and now doesn’t stand up. suppose you have break some eggs and all of that to make people believe you.

            • Pascal's bookie 8.1.1.1.1.1

              You make the same error here:

              “your honestly ok with more people suffering from the depravations of crime marty?”

              (To spell it out for you, the advice only says the policy ‘may’ reduce crime)

              The govt makes the same error too when they claim that this policy will deter crime. To be consistent in the way they are treating the advice from Justice, they should also say that it will increase murders.

              • TightyRighty

                Not really PB. your confusing a deterrent (fence at the top) with a cause effect (driver to jump). how people choose to react to a deterrent can be fairly predictable. let’s look at smoking advertising, drink-drive laws being toughened, etc etc. i don’t see the number of fatalities increasing from a toughening of the drink-drive laws because of a peverse inverted relationship, though i sometimes wonder if all that anti-smoking campaigning doesn’t just make smokers want a cigarette.

              • Pascal's bookie

                There is a possible deterrent indentified. And a possible ‘Cause’ effect.

                You are trying to pick and choose, while claiming that is what Marty is doing.

              • TightyRighty

                a three strike policy is what you would call an actual deterrent. it’s a stated punishment for a series of stated actions. that it “may”, though probably will, reduce crime does not make it any less of a deterrent.

              • Pascal's bookie

                fergawdsake.

                the advice says it may deter crime and it may increase murders.

                The govt says it will deter crime.

                therefore, marty is a hypocrite.

                Gotcha.

              • TightyRighty

                Right, deterrents have no effect on behaviour. the simple logic of it is, and i’ll keep this very simple for you PB. a big stick as a deterrent will probably deter more people, it probably won’t encourage them to worse. but pinko lefties always make apologies for criminals, so it won’t be their fault if they don’t get the rather simple message. we should blame the three strike law.

              • Pascal's bookie

                “deterrents have no effect on behaviour.”

                I never said anything remotely like that. Tautologies are indeed, true.

                However, the fact remains that the advice only says that this policy ‘may’ deter crime. Which is to say, it ‘may’ be a deterrant, as indeed it may. If you want to turn that ‘may’ into a ‘will’, then you have no consistent grounds for complaints above about others doing likewise

              • Ari

                You seem to be misinterpreting the “may” in “may be a deterrent”, tighty.

                That may means that we are unsure if there is ever any deterrent effect, not that the deterrent effect only works in some cases. (we would have taken “has a deterrent effect” to mean that it only worked in some cases, because that is the best one can reasonably expect from deterrence) Likewise, we are unsure if the policy increases the incentive to murder.

                Therefore, if it is fair to say that this policy deters crime even though it might not do so it all, it is equally fair to say it definitely increases murder, even though it might not do so at all.

            • Pascal's bookie 8.1.1.1.1.2

              “deterrents have no effect on behaviour.”

              Actually, on re reading I may have misunderstood. It would appear from a previous comment that you actually think this can be true.

              that it “may’, though probably will, reduce crime does not make it any less of a deterrent.

              Correct me if I misunderstand you, but are you saying here that whether or not something actually deters crime, has no bearing on whether or not it’s a deterrent? IOW that you can have deterrents that do not, in actuality, deter.

              That seems like silliness to me. The defintion of something being a deterrent is that it deters. But if that’s what you want to hang your argument on, then I guess I just prefer simple logic to the high fallutin righty kind.

  9. tsmithfield 9

    Draco: “The criminal has two options:
    1.) Let the person who can identify him go and end up in prison for the rest of their life or
    2.) Kill that person and have a higher possibility of not being caught”

    This is the logic at the heart of the article above. However, the logic doesn’t hold up.

    As I understand it, the current law is that the 3rd strike incurs the maximum sentence for a given crime, not necessarilly life imprisonment. So, for example, a calculating criminal who realizes the maximum sentence for the given crime is 10 years, and the maximum sentence for murder is forever will choose not to kill to avoid the substantially higher sentence for murder.

    On the flip side, if the 3rd strike law results in more truly nasty people being kept off the street for longer, then, in the long run, the public will be safer.

    • Marty G 9.1

      The fact is that murdering someone to ‘cover your tracks’ doesn’t work because the police apply far more resources to solving murders. The resolution rate is 99%. But that doesn’t mean people won’t act on the basis of that flawed logic, ts.

      The fact remains, and you can deny it all day long (I know you’ll try), that the official advice to the government is that this policy might result in more murders.

      You have to ask yourself if you think that is acceptable. If you think that a crime reduction policy that increases the most serious of crimes is OK.

      I’m waiting for your answer.

    • But TS you do not appear to understand the type of mind that we are discussing.

      The ones at risk tend to be poorly educated and either very drunk or out of their head on something or they have the type of personality that means they respond very poorly to certain circumstances or they suffer from a mental condition. They do not have law degrees or coldly measure the consequences of their behaviour if they act in a certain way.

      They are almost inevitably impulsive. They will not perform a deep analysis of the likely consequences, they will think along the following lines:

      “S*&t I’m going down but if I get away I might not get caught”. It is then likely they will kill someone to get away.

      This is a totally useless barbaric proposal that will make our society less compassionate and more susceptible to violence and murder.

    • Ari 9.3

      You’re assuming people will necessarily know that a crime doesn’t carry a life sentence, T.

      In my experience people committing crimes rarely if ever know the sort of sentence they might get with any accuracy.

  10. Gooner 10

    No, I think that’s abhorrent Marty. But I doubt its validity.

    As Mr Edgeler says, these options don’t apply to our three strikes law. I mean, lots of stuff happens overseas that doesn’t happen here. China hangs people for murder, and has a very, very low homicide rate. Some American states hang people and homicide rates in those states still don’t improve. Go figure.

    There’s actually a risk the homicide rate will increase if we don’t pass this law.

    It’s nice being able to play the emotives though Marty. That’s what Labour is very good at.

    • Marty G 10.1

      “There’s actually a risk the homicide rate will increase if we don’t pass this law.”

      Please point me to the official advice that says that.

      Because I’ve just handed you official advice that says exactly the opposite.

      Edgeler is talking about a side point, not denying the validity of the advice that 3 strikes may increase homicides. It seems you are and I’m wondering on what basis of evidence and fact.

  11. tc 11

    What a moral vacum we have running our country and they’ll blag another term unless labour wake up, dump Goff and inject some vigour into a very tired looking opposition that just seems incapable of playing the game required to wrest back power.

  12. Anne 12

    “Good work by The Standard, let’s hope our parliamentary opposition can pick up the ball”

    Has anyone advised senior opposition members of this post’s existence? I wouldn’t trust them to pick it up of their own accord.

  13. tsmithfield 13

    MS “But TS you do not appear to understand the type of mind that we are discussing.

    The ones at risk tend to be poorly educated and either very drunk or out of their head on something or they have the type of personality that means they respond very poorly to certain circumstances or they suffer from a mental condition. They do not have law degrees or coldly measure the consequences of their behaviour if they act in a certain way.

    They are almost inevitably impulsive. They will not perform a deep analysis of the likely consequences, they will think along the following lines:”

    This seems to cover the point that both Mickey and Marty have made.

    My response is to this is that the whole argument being made in the article seems premised on the assumption that criminals ARE calculating in the way outlined in my previous post. If the situation is as Mickey has described in the quote above, then it doesn’t really matter if there is a three strikes law or not. By the very argument I have quoted from Mickey, crims out of their face will murder to cover their tracks without even thinking about whether a 3 strikes law exists or not.

    To respond to your specific question Marty, the operative word is might. “MIGHT result in more murders”. That leaves the possibility that it might not as well.

    • Marty G 13.1

      “the article seems premised on the assumption that criminals ARE calculating in the way outlined in my previous post. ”

      No. the official government advice was made on the basis of studying other 3 strikes laws in action. Not theory, ts. studies of the real thing.

      “To respond to your specific question Marty, the operative word is might. “MIGHT result in more murders’. That leaves the possibility that it might not as well.”

      and that’s a risk you’re willing to take. jesus, ts.

      • tsmithfield 13.1.1

        Marty, the words “might”, “may” etc are next to useless so far as giving advice is concerned.

        For instance, the sun MIGHT explode tomorrow.

        It would be much more informative if the advice had stated something like “it is highly likely…” or “there is a slight possibility…”

        Do you not agree that the paragraph you quoted in the article is absolutely useless without seeing the context of the advice? Who knows, perhaps the word “may” was used in the context of a slight possibility. Until I know that context I can’t comment authoritatively. I don’t think you can either.

        • Pascal's bookie 13.1.1.1

          The govt claim the policy will deter crime T.

          By helping keep the worst repeat offenders behind bars for longer and deterring criminals from committing further crimes because of the escalating severity of sentences, this legislation will help make New Zealand a better, safer place.’

          http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1001/S00062.htm

          Do you agree they should mention the murder aspect in light of that? If so you agree with the thrust of the post.

          • tsmithfield 13.1.1.1.1

            Read the advice Pascal.

            Its very very wishy washy and uncertain. Phrases like “may have resulted in an increased rate of homicide…” and “…based on the research to date, this cannot be ruled out”.

            It sounds very much like namby pamby government department arse covering stuff to me. It sounds like code for, “we don’t think there will be an increase in homocides, but we can’t rule out the possibility.”

            As I said there is no context to tell what the advice actually means. I would be more concerned if the advice said : “instituting the three strikes law MIGHT NOT have resulted in an increase in homocides”. See the difference.

            • tsmithfield 13.1.1.1.1.1

              Further to that comment, Pascal, the phrase “..this cannot be ruled out” sounds very much like what I have often read in research reports where, say, a researcher has bench-marked a significance result at .001 but only gets to .05. The researcher might make a comment like, there is a reasonably strong result suggesting this, but because my test for significance was not met, the opposite cannot be ruled out.

              On this basis it may well be that the research is very strongly in favour of the Governments approach, but not reaching the test of significance set, so an increase in homicides can’t be ruled out.

              • Pascal's bookie

                I read the advice Tim. I also read what the government said in it’s press release.

                All your waffling remains just that. The advice remains what it is. The govts statements remain what they are.

                The fact that Justice was denied the ability to present to the select committe is also interesting don’t you think? Perhaps that would have shed some light on what this advice means. But we’ll never know now, will we?

                Do you think this is good process or not?

              • tsmithfield

                Not waffling.

                Why can’t we see the whole document instead of a selected tid-bit? Why doesn’t Marty want to disclose the whole thing?

              • Pascal's bookie

                Of course it’s waffling.

                Perhaps you’d like to address the substance and stop with all the ‘mebbes’ and ‘what does possibly mean’s

                Do you think it odd that justice was stopped from presenting to the select committee, and something clearly under the minister of Justices brief (sentencing) should be carried by the Minister of Police and Corrections?

                Your silence on the ommissions from the govt’s statements are also telling.

              • Bright Red

                “this cannot be ruled out” is like underlining, ts.

                it says ‘this is very important: it looks like these laws increase homicide rates, you can’t ignore this’

      • Jared 13.1.2

        Considering we havent got the entire pdf to see where the research was cited from, we can hardly judge on the vague assertion that it “may have resulted in an increase in homicide”.
        Do we know the reasoning behind this notion? or are they merely stating the obvious, that a recidivist murderer may take into account the fact that he is likely going to go away for life if he kills. Then again, how many murderers are that calculating? How many think, well, im going to kill one, I might as well kill more, is conviction and sentencing really their motivation? Or is an underlying mental condition or psychopathic tendencies to blame. To me it seems like the Ministry of Justice are just stating the obvious, that it MAY have lead to an increase in homicide. Then again, if we can have the entire PDF so we can see their research sources we might be able to shine a light on this ambiguous statement.

        [follow the first link below the image, genius. It has Justice’s bibliography in it. Marty]

        • Jared 13.1.2.1

          I asked for my post to be deleted mate, you would have noticed it when it was due to be released from moderation. In my reasoning I said I had since found the pdf links, but thanks.

    • pollywog 13.2

      The ones at risk tend to be poorly educated and either very drunk or out of their head on something or they have the type of personality that means they respond very poorly to certain circumstances or they suffer from a mental condition. They do not have law degrees or coldly measure the consequences of their behaviour if they act in a certain way.

      Like that saffa kid that killed Libby Tempelman ?… or at least allowed her to die rather than try to save her and then attempt to make it look like a sexual murder by someone else ?

      Doesnt the same logic apply to hit and run ? Dont worry bout saving them just hope they didnt get a good look at your car and you dont get caught if you leave them for dead.

      If, like the Christchurch school girls Marie Davis and Emma Agnew who were raped, i would imagine the perpetrators were always going to murder them and a 3 strikes longer sentence wouldn’t have deterred them. Or if not and they decided to kill them after the rape then once again it shouldnt make any difference if it was their first strike they should be punished as though it was their 3rd..

      Im not in favour of 3 strikes. I’d just like to see some consistency in sentencing and the maximum allowable sentence applied every time if the case warrants it, eliminate the judges discretion cos we all know that for any number of reasons they can be biased. Sure recidivist offenders prior records neeed to be taken into account but that doesnt excuse a first time premeditated murderer who may have been a model citizen and might get a lenient sentence because of it.

      The only ones who are gonna win out of this is lawyers charging thru the nose and rorting the free legal advice in appeals as they already do and the soon to be private prison service getting served up with clients on 2 strikes who will be closer to a longer term next time irrespective of whether their 3rd strike warrants it.

      But it seems the Law Society has always known the risk…

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/2389388/Law-Society-slams-three-strikes-bill

  14. Is there any chance you could post the entire document rather than the selected pages? I’d be keen to know what sources they’re citing. Joanna Shepherd’s work convincingly shows a strong deterrent effect, even on first strikes; Iyengar also shows the severity shift (which is the murder increase you’re banging on about). We’d totally expect that result in the American form where a third strike murder earns the same sentence as a third strike anything else, but unless they’re citing some work I don’t know about, it would be shocking if the same result were to hold for a form of the law that maintained marginal deterrence (which is what the law here proposed would do by maintaining proportionality across offences).

    Please post the whole document.

    • tsmithfield 14.1

      Quite agree, Eric. Without the whole document it is really a meaningless debate. In fact, I wonder if Marty is deliberately obsfucating on this point because the whole article contradicts the point he is trying to make.

      • Bill 14.1.1

        You really are a pair of hopeless pricks int you?

        pdf links. bottom of the post.

        • Eric Crampton 14.1.1.1

          Bill, those links only give three pages of the document. I’d like to see the full document, even if that makes me a hopeless prick.

          • Bright Red 14.1.1.1.1

            from the list of docs it looks like hundreds of pages all up. You can’t expect them to scan them all. After all, you never get OIA materials from the Herald or the Dom at all do you?

            And even if you did have all the materials, you would try another excuse.

      • Bright Red 14.1.2

        follow the links

        • Eric Crampton 14.1.2.1

          I did follow the links: I got three pages. Trying again now.. last link now 8 pages with some references…not sure if I missed it the first time or if it’s been updated. Thanks either way.

          I don’t get what all this “pricks” and “try another excuse” stuff is about. I’m a social scientist whose best honest conclusion from the literature is that a three-strikes rule that maintained proportionality across offenses would work well in deterring crime; whether it would deter crime sufficiently to pass cost-benefit analysis would still be up for grabs but it seems likely. It looks like Justice might have used some sources I haven’t seen, and I’d consequently like to see what work they’re citing.

          The documents you have up frankly aren’t all that damning. The three bullet points highlighted at the top of this post are pretty much what I’d also have said as summary of the US evidence (see here, for example, and note “severity shift” means that murders increase relative to rape). The increased homicide rate finding is what Iyengar found in California, though I can’t see him cited in the reference list (nor Shepherd, for that matter; I’m wondering whether that’s a full reference list or just a short list for Appendix 2; glad to see they found the Helland and Tabarrok paper though). I’d entirely expect that result in the California legislation where there’s no difference in punishment between rape and murder on third strike: why would the criminal leave the victim alive as witness? Consequently, the Justice folks recommended some pretty sensible changes to the legislation that would strike out that effect: mandatory maximum sentence for the offense on the third strike, so murder still draws harsher punishment than other crimes.

          Y’all need to relax on the partisan crap. Some of us actually care about what the actual empirics say about the real world, regardless of which team is made better off by it. For example, if I had to bet, I’d say capital punishment deters maybe 6-8 murders for execution, but I’d still oppose the policy on moral grounds. It’s really depressing watching how partisanship here pushes folks to commit to particular views of empirical matters that ought only be an input into deciding whether or not a policy is desirable. Politics is the mind-killer….

          • snoozer 14.1.2.1.1

            ‘I’m a social scientist whose best honest conclusion from the literature is that a three-strikes rule that maintained proportionality across offenses would work well in deterring ”

            you’re at odds with the experts in Justice who have reviewed the evidence then.

            • snoozer 14.1.2.1.1.1

              sorry, misread.

              yup, justice does say there might be a deterrent effect. they also say it might lead to more murders.

              that’s not a trade off we need to make or should make.

              • Re-read the document. It lead to more murders in the US because California had the stupid policy of giving the same sentence for all third strike offences. Justice recommended not doing that; ACT-National bargaining wound up adopting Justice’s recommendations. As amended, I would put 1000:1 against the policy increasing the murder rate.

              • Brightred

                Eric. You need to re-read the officials’ advice: “may increase the rate of homicide” “applicable to New Zealand”

                no dancing on heads of pins is going to get you out of those stark findings.

                And, Eric, if you read the docs linked to you will see these findings are about the 3 strikes as amended.

            • Lew 14.1.2.1.1.2

              Experts being at odds with each other is a sign that the systems of review and academic disputation are working as intended. It’s when all the experts are apparently in perfect lockstep agreement that you have to be worried, because that’s an indication that dogma has replaced investigation.

              The world needs more authoritative empirical work conducted without regard for political and ideological lines, not less.

              L

              • Puddleglum

                Eric C. You say you are a social scientist but my understanding is that, in fact, you are an economist. Sorry Eric, they’re not the same thing.

                Neo-classical economics bases itself on a logical model of human (social) behaviour not a substantive, empirically grounded, theory of human (social) behaviour – one that gets revised as a result of theoretically informed empirical study.

                It may be ‘empirical’ in relation to economic theories (about the behaviour of firms, ‘rational actors’ or ‘economies’) but not in relation to psychological or social theories (i.e., theories of human beahviour and society) – hence, it’s not a social or behavioural science. It produces next to no new insights about human behaviour and society since it simply assumes a logical model about those matters rather than putting those ideas to the test. (I’m excluding here the relatively few economic psychologists, etc.).

                Popper notes the logical (rather than psychological or sociological) nature of the economic model repeatedly in his rather unfortunate endorsement of Hayek’s approach in economics (Popper thought it was a good piece of social science modelling, but he was wrong – even on his own terms. As I’ve just noted, neo-classical economics has never changed its model’s fundamental assumptions – since it would make the discipline redundant – hence showing that they are beyond falsification within the discipline).

                Economics gets its model of human nature and the social world from classical liberal philosophy which was primarily a political ideology and movement. (It also used to be called ‘Political Economy’, for good reason). It is therefore rather rich of you, Eric, to tut-tut about politics entering the pure ‘empirical’ debate. If you understand the social history of your own discipline you’ll have to acknowledge that economics is primarily a political project (initially aimed at advancing the ‘rights’ of the ‘individual’ – both of which, unfortunately for your argument, are political and historical creations and not empirical facts.)

          • Eric Crampton 14.1.2.1.2

            @Brightred: Again, it would apply to NZ if NZ had gone for the idiot version of 3-strikes, giving everybody the same penalty on the third strike regardless of offense. But that isn’t what is here proposed.

            @Puddlegum: Your comment might apply if the papers I’m citing were theoretical arguments. But they’re econometric analyses that don’t really depend on any particular view of rationality. They tend to support a rational choice view of criminal behaviour, but in particular they support that three strikes rules deter crime.

  15. Anne 15

    You have to wonder where Rodney Hide fits into all if this. Wasn’t “the three strikes law” their flag-ship policy at the last election? Did he threaten to pull the plug on them if they ditched it?
    It wouldn’t be the first time that has happened. You have to wonder sometimes what hold Hide has over the Nats.

  16. coolas 16

    Three Strikes is US imported populist policy which has more to do with politics than crime reduction. This ‘get tough’ policy appeals to that big chunk of the electorate whose political consciousness requires single syllable slogans and very simple ideas.

    That Justice Department advice was ignored, just as MOE advice to trial National Standards was ignored, is no surprise.

    What interests me most about this is the effect it has on Simon Power, and whether a faction is emerging in National, unhappy with Act’s disproportionate influence on policy.

  17. felix 17

    tsmithellisfieldknorris, will you be here all day? It’s just that I’m a little busy right now.

    • tsmithfield 17.1

      Do you practice being a prick or does it just come naturally for you? I don’t know what you are busy doing, but if it involves sheep and vaseline, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

      • felix 17.1.1

        That came out of the blue, didn’t it? What was it I said that got you so hot and bothered?

  18. snoozer 18

    the most telling thing is that they tried to silience Justice by stopping them submitting to the select committee.

    people like ts can spin all they want, but the nats knew they were sitting on an explosive secret.

  19. snoozer 19

    all the righties have to ask themselves: is the change that some crimes might be decreased worth the risk that murders might increase?

    It’s not like we don’t have other options to reduce crime

    captcha: kills

  20. tsmithfield 20

    Ah, I see why Marty was a little economical on what he quoted.

    Here is what follows the passage quoted above:

    “Officials consider these findings are generally applicable to New Zealand although the actual effects are likely to be small given New Zealand’s small population and the differences between the proposals and the three strikes laws in the USA.”

    When you look at this in context, the best advice the officials could give was, firstly, in the American situation which is different to NZ, there was a possibility that it might have increased the homicide rate but they couldn’t be sure. Secondly, even if there was an effect, when applied to NZ with a smaller population and different rules, even if there was an effect (which they couldn’t be certain of anyway) it would amount to sweet fuck all in the New Zealand context.

    On that basis, we should ban safety belts on the grounds there is the slight possibility that the belts might snare some people in their cars after an accident.

    • snoozer 20.1

      um, of course the numbers are going to be smaller in a smaller country.

      “it would amount to sweet fuck all in the New Zealand context.”

      how many extra murders are you willing to risk for ‘may decrease crime rates’?

      My answer is zero.

      Especially when there are heaps of things we could be doing to reduce crime that don’t risk more murders.

      • tsmithfield 20.1.1

        So, you would ban safety belts on the basis that it MIGHT, on some very rare occasion, have an adverse effect in an accident? And I guess you’d ban vaccinations too, due to the possibility of a very rare case where someone has a severe reacion.

        • snoozer 20.1.1.1

          No. Because those are risks inherent in those activity that definiately do save lives and there aren’t alternatives.

          If there was an alternative to seat belts that would reduce crash deaths without the risk of seatbelts, I would expect the government to make it mandatory instead of seatbelts.

          The government does not have to put people at risk of being murdered on the chance that it will reduce other crimes.

          Seatbelts a) work as intended and b) there aren’t risk-free alternatives. 3 strikes satisfies neither test.

    • Pascal's bookie 20.2

      t, t, t,

      See how it’s ‘these findings’.

      With an ‘s’.

      So your rephrasing is incomplete, Here’s the missing bit:

      When you look at this in context, the best advice the officials could give was, firstly, in the American situation which is different to NZ, there was a possibility that it might have decreased the crime rate, and it may have deterred individuals, but they couldn’t be sure. Secondly, even if there was an effect, when applied to NZ with a smaller population and different rules, even if there was an effect (which they couldn’t be certain of anyway) it would amount to sweet fuck all in the New Zealand context.

      • tsmithfield 20.2.1

        I have to agree with you. But thats not the part we are debating.

        I can see why justice was stopped from presenting this to the select committee, though. The government was trying to spare them the embarrassment of having such a useless, inconclusive, and uninformative document being put into the public arena.

        The government would have gained absolutely no benefit from this document.

        • Pascal's bookie 20.2.1.1

          But committee could have questioned them and cleared things up. I suspect you are not really being honest about why you think the government prevented Justice from submitting.

          It’s ok smitty.

          • tsmithfield 20.2.1.1.1

            They could have reduced the paper use considerably by condensing the report to three words:

            We don’t know.

            BTW, you don’t seem to disagree with my assessment of the report.

            • Pascal's bookie 20.2.1.1.1.1

              I didn’t think it was an assessment so much as mindless dishonest sophistry. But no, they don’t just say ‘we don’t know’.

              They also highlight some possibilities that are known. Some of which the government ignored in it’s public statements.

        • Bright Red 20.2.1.2

          “I can see why justice was stopped from presenting this to the select committee, though. The government was trying to spare them the embarrassment of having such a useless, inconclusive, and uninformative document being put into the public arena.”

          I’m not one for Tui references but ‘yeah, right’

          This is a stock standard paper summarising the findings of official research.

          • tsmithfield 20.2.1.2.1

            If this is an example of “stock standard” official reporting, then you’ve just lowered my estimate of official reporting by about 10 notches.

  21. Pascal's bookie 21

    Let’s take a vote!

    1) Should the Ministry of Justice have been allowed to present to the seclect committee?

    2) Should this bill have been handled primarily by the Minister of Justice rather than Police/Corrections

    I vote ‘yes’ on both.

  22. Brightred 22

    Lets turn this on its head.

    The government’s advice is that it’s policy will encourage more murders and it will discourage some other crimes.

    What kind of government pursues a policy it has been told encourages murder?

    captcha: switching (this thing is spooky some times)

    • J Mex 22.1

      When the initial three strikes law came out, many commenters at the Standard said that it wouldn’t stop violent crime. Why?

      Because “Crimes of passion etc are some of the few one where these bear almost no relation to the commission of an offence, and most violent crime is ‘crime of passion’ or committed under the influence. So deterrence doesn’t work there. Of course rational people can be deterred from an action if they are made aware of high costs resulting from that action but deterrence doesn’t work because most serious crimes are not commited by people in a rational state of mind. Moreover, people do not know the odds of being caught or the punishment they will likely get if caught., so are likely to discount them heavily”

      Those same commenter’s, are now saying that “Three Strikes” will increase serious crime and are inferring that Murderers are now actually cold, calculating individuals who weigh up the consequences of their actions, possible punishments, length of sentence.

      (Bright Red, if you recognise the quote above, it’s because it’s yours).

  23. tsmithfield 23

    Here is why I think the report is useless and a waste of paper.

    1. Very weak conclusions drawn from American research.
    2. No evidence whatsoever as to why the very weak conclusions drawn from America will transfer to a different culture and a law that has fundamental differences to the law that applies in USA.
    3. The authors baseless opinion that there might be some negligible amount of transfer to NZ. But no evidence to support even this very weak conclusion.

    In other words, the report boils down to the authors opinion of how it might apply in NZ. Thats it.

  24. Ed 24

    I was only able to link to the middle of the three links – the others eventually stopped with a black screen.

    [tested all three. they work. they are large pdfs (one reason I didn’t scan all 100 pages of material I received, the other being the time it takes) perhaps your connection failed. Marty]

  25. David Garrett 25

    Only one problem with the comments on this….the FACTS derived from 16 years experience in California – where the law is much stricter as Graeme Edgeler has pointed out.

    FACT: Homicides decreased from 4,095 in 1993, the year before “three strikes” to 2,392 in 2002 (Source: CA Dept of Justice and CA Dept. of Corrections)

    FACT: The population of California increased by about 25% during that period (it is difficult to estimate accurately because of the high number of illegal aliens in the State) which means the reduction is more than 60% rather than the 50% approximately the raw figures would indicate.

    FACT: Homicides of Police have remained essentially static between 1986 (6) and 2001 (6) with a high of 10 in 1995. (Source: Homicide in California 1986-2001.

    • Marty G 25.1

      FACT: Official advise from the Ministry of Justice delivered to Simon Power on the 16th of December last year said that three strikes in the States may have increased homicides and that finding is applicable to New Zealand’s 3 strikes

      FACT: Justice was prevented from submitting to the select committee on a law it will have to administer. Unheard of. (perhaps, you can tell us more, Mr Garrett)

      FACT: After receiving this paper, Simon Power ceased to be lead minister on the legislation even though it’s his ministry. (I know you know something about that Mr Garrett).

      QUESTION: How long have you known that the official advice is that the 3 strikes law may increase the homicide rate?

      QUESTION: When were you planning to tell New Zealand?

    • David is that really you?

      If so what effect did the drop in unemployment have? Or do you just see the relationship as a linear one between two discrete pieces of data unaffected by any other factor?

    • r0b 25.3

      FACT: In Mexico homicides decreased from a high of 17 per 100,000 in 1997 to less than 10 per 100,000 in 2007.

      FACT: Mexico has no Three Strikes law.

      FACT: Much of the crime in California and Mexico is drug and gang related, and a lot of factors have been in play to reduce this kind of crime.

      FACT: Trying to draw conclusions out of raw numbers from California is simplistic nonsense, the official advice provided to government didn’t fall in to that ignorant trap.

    • Lizzy 25.4

      They have lots of canyons and desert in Cal. I might take it that the Cal killers are just hiding the bodies better or maybe they migrated to more appealing hunting grounds – overseas holidays making snuff movies in the Phillipines and so forth. 3 strikes is too many to my mind.

  26. Marty G 26

    Garrett. you’re ‘facts’ are stupid because you’ve got coincidence, not causation. You haven’t separated out other variables. That’s what the studies Justice examined do.

    Their conclusions – 3 strikes may increase homicides.

    • tsmithfield 26.1

      And the evidence that the American research transfers to NZ is?

      Hint: The unsupported opinion of Justice Department officials doesn’t count as evidence.

      • felix 26.1.1

        “The unsupported opinion of Justice Department officials doesn’t count as evidence”

        What would they know? I prefer to get all my advice from an anonymous guy on the internet who sometimes calls himself tsmithfield.

        • tsmithfield 26.1.1.1

          Not very logical, felix. Making the logical error of an appeal to authority. Just because they are Justice Department Officials doesn’t make what they say any more valid. There still needs to be evidence supporting the opinion. Just in case you need a refresher in philosophy 101 btw.

          A key aspect of research is to show that research in one setting transfers to another. In this case we have, not only a different country, but also a different set of rules. Heck, even the official acknowledges the problem of trying to join the dots but tries to never-the-less without providing any evidence why except that it might be a good idea..

          • felix 26.1.1.1.1

            Just because they are Justice Department Officials doesn’t make what they say any more valid.

            Absolutely correct.

            What makes their opinion about a trillion times more worthy than yours is that they’ve researched the available information and reported their findings.

            You on the other hand have done nothing but hang around on the net making arguments you (by your own admission) often don’t even believe.

            It’s not an appeal to authority to favour the better (overwhelmingly better) informed opinion. It’s the only reasonable course. Especially in your case, for reasons given in the previous para.

      • Bright Red 26.1.2

        ‘The unsupported opinion of Justice Department officials doesn’t count as evidence”

        It is supported. By the research they’ve done. Cabinet papers don’t present that research, they present its findings.

        If you want to see Justice’s research, OIA it.

        • Jared 26.1.2.1

          Have you read any of the cited references? I mean, so you might understand why they said it “may” increase rates of homicide?

          • Bright Red 26.1.2.1.1

            It’s not my job. I’m happy to rely on the expert opinion of Justice unless someone presents contrary evidence, in which case I’ll look deeper.

            On what basis do you disagreeing with Justice?

            Other than that you’re a paritsan hack with his fingers in his ears screaming ‘la la can’t hear you’ of course.

    • Tigger 26.2

      Great points and questions, Marty.

  27. PK 27

    Do you have any more of the report? I mean, discussing the suggested causal relationship between the law & increased homicides?

  28. Pascal's bookie 28

    Any of the righties, MP’s or otherwise care to vote in my vox pop upthread?

    Or even just one of them say whether or not they think it’s a good thing that the Ministry of Justice was prevented from talking to the select committee.

    That’d be nice.

    • tsmithfield 28.1

      So far as I can see, the only evidence presented that they were prevented from submitting is an unsupported assertion from Marty.

    • tsmithfield 28.2

      I think they probably thought that this was a very popular policy and that the public would be very forgiving about them “ignoring” contrary views.

      • Bright Red 28.2.1

        they didn’t just ignore advice that didn’t suit teir aims, ts, they kept that advice secret and muzzled Justice.

        And, we have to ask why Power was suddenly moved out of his position.

      • Pascal's bookie 28.2.2

        The question was “whether or not they think it’s a good thing that the Ministry of Justice was prevented from talking to the select committee.”

        Do you think your reason for why they might have done it makes for anything like good governance.

        Not that your reason makes any sense of course, as BR notes.

        Perhaps you could just answer the question.

        Are you happy with Justice being prevented from talking to the select committee?

  29. Rex Widerstrom 29

    This is an interesting debate to follow. As tsmithfield says, Justice’s advice that 3 strikes may increase homicides is couched in typical arse-covering public service speak. But then so is their advice that it might work as intended.

    As Marty counters, Justice have done more research, and read more reports, than anyone taking it upon themselves to comment here, with the exception of David Garrett… but he’s amply demonstrated he’s unable to differentiate causation, correlation and coincidence.

    So what are we left with? Pretty much where the post started out:
    – 3 strikes might reduce crime, mainly through a “deterrent effect”. But it may not.
    – 3 strikes may increase homicides. But it may not.

    It would seem, therefore, that any prudent person would advocate erring on the side of caution and avoiding such a law on the basis that no amount of potential deterrent value is worth trading for as much as a single death.

    Thus anyone still advocating 3 strikes in the face of this advice must be presumed to be taking the opposie view, no matter how minimal they consider that risk to be.

    Considering I have seen the maxim “better ten guilty men go free than one innocent person is imprisoned” reversed and advanced as a principle, both in terms of imprisonment and even, by some internet commenters, when discussing the death penalty, I don’t think that’s an unreasonable accusation.

    So, Mr Garrett and others, here’s a question. When would you repeal the law? After one murderer advances as a reason for his homicide that he was trying to escape identification and thus his third strike? After two? Three? Or are potential murder victims, about whose “rights” you’re only too happy to complain after they’re victimised, merely collateral damage in the quest for votes?

    • Bright Red 29.1

      well put, Rex.

      Risking more murders for the chance of fewer other crimes is an unacceptable gamble.

      • Ari 29.1.1

        I should point out that there may be SOME deterrent effect on murders as well. The problem really is that we’d be risking increasing murders for an unknown and unsure amount of deterrence that isn’t measurable.

        The problem with this policy is really that it has no conditions of success or failure, it’s just a sop to the “lock them up and then beat them” crowd.

  30. J Mex 30

    But Red, in January you said that the three strikes law wouldn’t work because Murderers generally didn’t consider the consequences when committing murder, they were generally crimes of passion or under the influence so increased punishment didn’t work.

    “Crimes of passion etc are some of the few one where these bear almost no relation to the commission of an offence, and most violent crime is ‘crime of passion’ or committed under the influence. So deterrence doesn’t work there. Of course rational people can be deterred from an action if they are made aware of high costs resulting from that action but deterrence doesn’t work because most serious crimes are not commited by people in a rational state of mind. Moreover, people do not know the odds of being caught or the punishment they will likely get if caught., so are likely to discount them heavily”

    BrightRed 20/1/2010

    Now you seem to be convinced that Murderers DO take severity of punishment into account at the time of committing an offence and in fact weigh it in a very calculating way.

    • Bright Red 30.1

      Now, I’m saying that the Ministry of Justice has advised the government that 3 strikes may increase homicides and may decrease other crimes.

      Are you willing to back that gamble?

    • Rex Widerstrom 30.2

      BR’s position isn’t at all contradictory, JM.

      Thinking that murdering a witness (including the victim of a lesser offence you’ve committed) will help you elude capture is utterly irrational, not least because, as someone has already pointed out above, it means enormous police resources will then be diverted into capturing you.

      But that won’t stop the irrational, drugged up, drunk, mentally ill (or some combination of the foregoing) criminal from thinking it might, and thus committing murder.

      • J Mex 30.2.1

        The incentive to kill a witness already exists, Rex.

        For it to be relevant to the discussion, (i.e., the three strikes law makes it MORE likely that someone will commit murder), then it must hold true that the perpetrator a) Knows about three strikes law and b) it is prescient in their mind at the time of the crime.

        BR argued against both a) and b), so I fail to see how BR now thinks that three strikes law will increase murder.

  31. Seti 31

    The ThreeStrikes site has rather compelling evidence on how well California’s three strikes law is working in reducing homicide, particularly the 15 year report since the introduction of the law. Nearly 10,000 fewer murders, or roughly 21% less than the previous corresponding period.

    • Rex Widerstrom 31.1

      That report isn’t independent, it’s written by ThreeStrikes.org and is thus no more nor less than a piece of lobbying.

      It makes no effort to investigate whether other factors, such as improved cross-agency drug enforcement (partly as a by-product of agencies being forced to work together more after 9/11) could be responsible for the fall in crime statistics they quote.

      But occasionally a bit of unvarnished truth slips through the hyperbole, like this bit:

      These studies also show an extraordinary exodus from California of paroled felons.

      AKA “passing the buck”. Where are ours going to go, I wonder? One look at an episode of “Border Patrol” (or whatever it’s called) will show you that Australia generally rejects any NZer witha record even if (as in one case I saw) they were clean for 30 years.

      Tell you what, if David Garrett is so certain the law will be effective, we’ll send all two strikes criminals to live next door to him then, shall we? In fact if I had the money, I’d be making his neighbours an offer they couldn’t refuse right about now…

      • Seti 31.1.1

        Threestrikes.org may be a lobbying site but a Standard author claims the law “must be abandoned now before it gets anyone killed”.

        Do the facts of 10,000 less murders in California since the 3 strikes introduction suggest in any way this may be the case?

        • r0b 31.1.1.1

          California is a red herring Seti, see above. Homicides fell dramatically in Mexico too (which has no 3 strikes law).

        • Bright Red 31.1.1.2

          “Do the facts of 10,000 less murders in California since the 3 strikes introduction suggest in any way this may be the case?”

          Fewer murders in california between two arbitariliy chosen years does not mean that any one event between those years caused them. There are a multitude of factors at play that must be controlled for

          That’s why Justice reviewed the proper studies that control for different variables not dumbarse ‘look murders are down must be because of X’ statements.

          And Justice’s finding is that 3 strikes may increase the homicide rate. Are you willing to make that gamble with people’s lives?

          • Seti 31.1.1.2.1

            “Fewer murders in california between two arbitariliy chosen years does not mean that any one event between those years caused them.”

            It is not “two arbitrary chosen years” – it is the time since the law’s introduction and the same period prior.

            “And Justice’s finding is that 3 strikes may increase the homicide rate. Are you willing to make that gamble with people’s lives?”

            I’d like to think the homicide rate will decrease as there will be less violent offenders able to commit them.

            • mcflock 31.1.1.2.1.1

              “I’d like to think the homicide rate will decrease as there will be less violent offenders able to commit them.”

              Yeah, but the Justice report was based on research, not wishful thinking.

            • Olwyn 31.1.1.2.1.2

              Correct me if I’m wrong in my assumptions, but I would think that a state might differ from a country in that crime rates may go down in a state because of criminals relocating to other states where the three strikes law does not apply. This might be the sensible thing to do after the second strike for someone who has not been persuaded to give up on crime. Relocation from one country to another, however, is more demanding, especially for someone with a criminal record.

          • Ari 31.1.1.2.2

            I’d go and say it’s worse than a gamble. It’s a blind gamble- it’s incredibly difficult to tell if it succeeded, and nobody will want to put in the resources to try and see after it’s implemented- they’ll all be either cheerleeding it or dooming it.

    • Bright Red 31.2

      I’m going to go with the opinion of the Ministry of Justice based on actual research, rather than what you found on a political site.

      And, again, you’ve shown coincidence, not causation.

  32. PK 32

    ***Tell you what, if David Garrett is so certain the law will be effective, we’ll send all two strikes criminals to live next door to him then, shall we? In fact if I had the money, I’d be making his neighbours an offer they couldn’t refuse right about now ***

    But isn’t the point that people who are going to keep committing serious offences should be incarcerated or institutionalised? So it will in fact be effective in the long run?

    • Ari 32.1

      And the counterpoint is that they already are, it’s just the responsibility of judges to decide that, not legislators, and they do it while still maintaining our constitution, to boot. ;)

    • mcflock 32.2

      “But isn’t the point that people who are going to keep committing serious offences should be incarcerated or institutionalised? So it will in fact be effective in the long run?”

      That’s the hope. But the lit review didn’t find any evidence to support that hope, and some possibility of negative outcomes in the homicide rate.

  33. tsmithfield 33

    Two opposing views from lefties today:

    Draco: <blockquote cite="The idea that three strikes laws increase the murder rate has been around for awhile. It may have been in the 1990s when I first heard of it. The theory is quite simple:

    The criminal has two options:
    1.) Let the person who can identify him go and end up in prison for the rest of their life or
    2.) Kill that person and have a higher possibility of not being caught

    Being caught for murder has the same result as being caught for the lessor crime the rest of their life in prison. The rational decision then is to kill the person who can identify them."

    So Draco thinks crims will behave rationally with respect to the law.

    MickeySavave: <blockquote cite="But TS you do not appear to understand the type of mind that we are discussing.

    The ones at risk tend to be poorly educated and either very drunk or out of their head on something or they have the type of personality that means they respond very poorly to certain circumstances or they suffer from a mental condition. They do not have law degrees or coldly measure the consequences of their behaviour if they act in a certain way.

    They are almost inevitably impulsive. They will not perform a deep analysis of the likely consequences, they will think along the following lines:"

    So Mickey thinks crims won’t be rational with respect to the law.

    OK. So if Draco is right, crims are rational. This implies they will realize that for a given offence if the time for the crime is less than the time for murder, then its not worth killing the victim.

    If Mickey is right, crims are so out of it or so inflamed by rage, that they will act without thinking. This implies that it doesn’t make any difference whether there is a three strikes law or not. If the crims are going to kill their victims, they will kill them.

    So, how to reconcile these two perspectives?

    It seems that there must be a “goldilocks” effect to explain why crims would kill their victims BECAUSE of the three strikes law. Perhaps crims are rational enough to know there is a three strikes law and that victims could keep them in prison. But, they get affected by their drugs and things to the extent that they aren’t rational enough to understand the cost-benefit equation for whether it is worth killing a potential witness or not. There, quite simple really.

    • J Mex 33.1

      That’s pretty much the point that I was trying to make TS.

      Go back to January, and you have a bunch of anti-NACT(M)s saying that three strikes won’t work because violent crims and crimes aren’t rational.

      Fastforward a few months and many of the same voices are exclaiming that our violent crims and crimes are probably hyper rational.

      I, for one, blame the introduction of National standards.

    • felix 33.2

      Tim and JMex you are both arguing that the advice from Justice was wrong. I’m not getting into that because I’m not up to speed with all the research and neither are you, and (at least in Tim’s case) he has admitted he doesn’t actually believe a lot of what he writes here anyway.

      I’m far more interested in the fact that we have a govt which has silenced Justice, prevented them from giving evidence to a select committee, and shunted the relevant minister aside.

      I notice you have both studiously avoided these issues. Quite a feat considering the amount of time and typing you’ve devoted to this thread.

  34. ben 34

    What a sad place the Standard is.

    1. Justice offers advice.

    2. The bill is amended because of that advice and in accordance with the cited literature.

    The Standard ignores that annoying second bit and just reports the first.

    All of this in full view of any reader who cares about any sort of objective assessment of, well, anything, including this bill.

    What I don’t understand is why credibility – your own, Standard – is so cheaply given away in stunts like this. Total bloody idiocy.

    [the bill was not amended on the basis of this advice. Follow the links. The advice was given on the basis of the amended bill. Marty]

    • Pascal's bookie 34.1

      You missed the bit about select committees and Power losing the bill to Collins there Ben.

      How do you account for that, and do you approve?

  35. Duncan 35

    Why is this not all over the newspapers yet?

    Has it been given to the news agencies yet?

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