Remember National’s policy of charging a $50 levy on everyone convicted of or, maybe, charged with (Key keeps on mixing up the terms) an offence? Remember all the obvious problems with it enforcement, administration cost, natural justice issues, the pitiful size of the sum that would be collected? Well, it turns out we missed one. Fortunately, as ever, the US provides an example of what not to do:
A Maryland governmental fund created to assist “innocent” victims of violent crime has paid out nearly $1.8 million since 2003 to injured (or deceased) “drug dealers, violent offenders and other criminals,” according to an investigation by the Baltimore Sun published in March. Burial expenses were awarded for a carjacker, a victim of an inter-gang killing and a sex offender who was fatally beaten in prison. The Maryland courts have ruled that as long as the applicant was not engaged in a crime at the time he was injured, he must be considered for an award. [Baltimore Sun, 3-16-08]
Stands to reason when you think about it; people who have offended or are career criminals are often victims of crime themselves, like Tony Stanlake. So, Key’s plan (which, it is becoming more and more obvious, was made up on the hoof so he could be seen to have some policy) would be hard to enforce, expensive to administer, would punish people the same amount irrespective of the severity of their offence, wouldn’t collect much money, and a good deal of the money would likely go to criminals.
Well, he’s got the Black Power vote.