ACT and National’s “Three strikes” act is likely to become law today.
The video below show that three strikes legislation hasn’t worked overseas. There’s a grassroots campaign in California to undo some of the damage wrought by the very wide application of the State’s Three Strikes law.
While New Zealand’s version isn’t likely to face exactly the problems detailed in the video above, it’s a timely reminder that imposing mandatory punishments solely be reason of a person’s status as a prior offender can produce perverse results.
We saw this firsthand in secret official advice to Simon Power from our own ministry of Justice which revealed their concerns that adopting a three strikes policy here could actually increase the number of murders.
We already know that longer sentences don’t reduce crime. It’s uncertain whether or not this law will have any deterrent effect, it’ll cost more to administer, it’s likely to lead to fewer guilty pleas and more appeals, while (by scraping parole on the third strike) it also removes the incentive for offenders to reform. It even risks breaching the Bill of Rights.
It’s a PR stunt entirely unsupported by evidence.