We need to ACT on the innumeracy of MPs

Written By: - Date published: 11:08 am, June 6th, 2015 - 113 comments
Categories: act, spin, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: ,

A few days ago, I noticed an article on Stuff on three strikes. It started rationally.

The “three-strikes legislation”, which passed into law in June 2010 after a push from then-ACT politician David Garrett, gives people who commit violent offences “strikes” when they plead or are found guilty.

A first strike serves as a warning, and a second strike requires an offender to serve their sentence without parole.

Someone who gets a third strike must serve the maximum sentence possible without parole, unless the court considers it would be manifestly unjust.

Nationally, 5378 first strikes and 76 second strikes have been given, but no third strikes.

So the legislation has been in for about 5 years. Nothing surprising about those figures when you consider what the legislation did. The clearly stated intent in parliament on the legislation (see Andrew Geddis looking at decisions on it) was to both act as a deterrent and to lock up persistent violent offenders away from the public.

But then the article starts quoting form the loopy and illiterates of Act and their associated nutters like the misnamed “Sensible sentencing trust”.

Garrett, now the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s spokesman on the legislation, said the number of second strikers – a little more than 1 per cent of first strikes – was “surprisingly low”.

“[The trust] believe that the very low numbers of second strikers is conclusive evidence that three-strikes is an effective deterrent which helps protect the public from the habitual violent offender.”

Any critics of the legislation should “look at the results”, as it was designed to prevent repeat violent offending and act as a deterrent.

“We believe the law is achieving both of its aims in spades.”

What in the hell is this dickhead David Garret on? Concentrated right wing stupidity? Or can’t he even count? Or doesn’t he understand how the court system works?

This is only FIVE years! Consider the offences covered in the legislation

There are 40 qualifying offences comprising all major violent and sexual offences with a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment or more, including murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, sexual violation, abduction, kidnapping, and aggravated robbery.

The full list can be found in section 86A of the Sentencing Act 2002, available online at www.legislation.govt.nz.

Most of these carry lengthy prison sentences that are unlikely to avoid some prison time.

They are also largely offences for our overloaded high courts. The last time I looked, the delay for a jury trial in the high court was something like 16 months. And that was before this government really started increasing their workload with dumbarse legislation like 3 strikes, cost cutting and increasing the complexity of the sentencing issues.

By the time you factor in court time, prison time, and the time for recidivists to get caught again the only thing I’m surprised about is that there were 76 people being given a second strike. There simply isn’t enough time for many with these types of serious offences to go through the justice system.

So why is having a spokesperson for a fringe nutter organisation of interest?

Well David Garret was also the lawyer/Act MP who pushed the 3 strikes legislation through the house is apparently being a innumerate at maths and time calculations as he is at declaring previous sentences.  He had  to leave Act and parliament after not disclosing his fiddling a dead child’s identity and previous offences.

Well he wants more people for prisons.

;The trust thought people should be given a second chance before facing “the full force of the law”, he said.

“For that reason, we think the concept could be applied to almost all crimes.”

Garrett said he would like to see manufacturing methamphetamine included as a strikeable offence, as many violent offences had a connection with the drug.

The question I have always asked about the “Sensible sentencing trust” is just how much do they get funded directly or indirectly by the burgeoning prison industry? Otherwise it is rather hard to see why such mindless social stupidity could even be conceived. As The Economist pointed out in a recent leader on the social issues associated with human males deficiencies in the developed modern world

Policymakers also need to lend a hand, because foolish laws are making the problem worse. America reduces the supply of marriageable men by locking up millions of young males for non-violent offences and then making it hard for them to find work when they get out (in Georgia, for example, felons are barred from feeding pigs, fighting fires or working in funeral homes). A number of rich countries discourage poor people from marrying or cohabiting by cutting their benefits if they do.


But apparent numerical illiteracy is also endemic in Act. Their sole remaining MP David Seymour (ie Rimmer) said this…

ACT Party leader David Seymour said he would like to see a separate three-strikes law for burglary convictions – something the party campaigned on at the last election.

Say what? Is this an attempt to increase prison populations again. Look at California which is probably the US state that put the lowest bar for three strikes, including offences like drugs and burglary.

On deterrence

An example was a 1999 study, in which, pre-three strikes crime rate (1991-1993) were compared to post-three strikes crime rate (1995-1997).[21] The dropping crime rate in California was compared directly to how severely counties enforced the three strikes law. The dropping crime rate was the same in counties with both light and harsh enforcement, sometimes being even greater in counties with lighter enforcement of the three strikes law.

A more recent study, in 2004, analyzed the effect of the legislation as a means of deterrence and incapacitation showed that the three strikes law had no significant effect on deterrence of crime.[22]

On the obvious effects

Financially, the three-strikes law has had a strong effect in California since the cost of keeping an inmate incarcerated averages around $47,102 dollars a year.[28] The more often the full force of the three strikes law is implemented the higher the cost for the state, which many of those opposed to the law claim could be used for other resources such as schools or even rehabilitation programs for inmates themselves.

California passed Proposition 36 in 2012, which removed lesser offences..

One impact of the approval of Proposition 36 was that the approximately 3,000 convicted felons who were as of November 2012 serving life terms under the Three Strikes law, whose third strike conviction was for a nonviolent crime, became eligible to petition the court for a new, reduced, sentence.[31] Taxpayers could save over $100 million per year by reducing the sentences of these current prisoners and use the money to fund schools, fight crime and reduce the state’s deficit.[32]

Yet curiously Act’s MP David Seymour seems to want to add relatively minor non-violent offenses? This from a party that started out as “Association of Citizens and Taxpayers“.  They seem to show a blithe lack of concern for taxpaye money.

Perhaps we should put them in a mandatory remedial training. Or stop the investment of private prison companies in them and the “sensible sentencing trust” before these fools go and bankrupt taxpayers..



113 comments on “We need to ACT on the innumeracy of MPs ”

  1. tracey 1

    Also, the rate of murder in NZ has fallen or evened out over the last 40 years. You wouldn’t know it to read/hear some of the Law and Order desk bangers. The same desk bangers who don’t blink at a workplace death rate of about 100 per year. TWICE the murder rate.

    • felix 1.1

      I was thinking about this the other day. I was listening to the news reports of a murder that had just gone to trial, and realised that the story had been given saturation coverage when the crime occurred last year and now we were getting it all over again. There may even be another round at sentencing.

      I suspect this happens a lot, this re-telling and re-telling of the same horrific stories again and again, leading to a perception that there’s a lot more of these crimes that there really is.

      Workplace deaths, by contrast, barely get one mention.

      • tracey 1.1.1

        It does, it makes people think the murder rate in NZ is closer to 1 a day than less than 1 a week.

        When I teach this stuff, in relation to workplace safety, students are amazed that more people die in our workplaces than are murdered.

        Imagine if each workplace death made the news, then the coroners findings, then any legal action by DOL and so on…

    • SMILIN 1.2

      Capitalism with an emphasis on profit by removing an unnecessary cost, ie workers lives
      Back to the poor house we go

  2. RedLogix 2

    I spotted that Economist article referenced earlier in the week. It’s an interesting read from a number of perspectives. Well worth a read.

    ACT may fail at basic arithmetic (as they do most reality based endeavors) – but full points for sound propaganda.

    • lprent 2.1

      Yep. There was a leader and FIVE articles. Fascinating read.

      Curiously it was the cover of the European version but not on the Asia-Pacific.My cell and tablet pick up different versions.

    • tracey 2.2

      It’s abit early for the Law and Order meme though… they must be desperate, bored or feeling meaningless.

      • lprent 2.2.1

        I suspect that it was getting pushed from the SST side. Funding?

        • Colville.

          So this site is getting pushed by the Unions? Funding?

          • lprent

            No. The unions don’t pay anything for this site. Nor does any political party. Nor do we now get ANY funding from any source apart from unsolicited donations put into our bank account from individuals. I make up any difference from my own income.

            Since August, the cost is now about $250 per month operating costs + hardware upgrades. We also dropped any advertising as not being needed any longer.

            Since August, I have put in about $900 – basically for hardware upgrades for the next year as I shifted to the primary site being on local fibre. The operating costs have almost entirely been paid by donations.

  3. Colonial Rawshark 3

    ACT’s approach to crime and punishment is not just stupid and simplistic – it is utterly racist.

    • Colville. 3.1

      Want to point out the bits where they talk about the colour of someones skin?

      ACT have campainged on one law for all and should be commended for it.

      NZ would be a better place if it were completely colour blind .

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1

        Why are your arguments lies, Colville? Is skin colour the determining factor? No, it isn’t.

        Have you got an excuse?

      • lprent 3.1.2

        It doesn’t matter if the police claim that they are “colour blind”.

        It matters if the effect of their actions are colour blind. Quite clearly from what analysis has been done on their own statistics and that of the justice system, that isn’t the case. There is a massive filtering going on for everything from who gets charged to what sentences people get and even to parole that clearly discriminates against certain groups in society.

        If we wanted to make the police and the courts colour blind, we’d probably need to discriminate against ignorant idiots like yourself who are more interested in ideological purity than facing reality – getting you to back your idiotic ideas with some facts would be a good start. So go and dig out some statistics on the progression of Maori (for instance) from being 10% or so of the population to being more than 50% of the prison population. You will find it difficult apart from the Poole report back in 2000.

        Then force the police and courts to collect and report based on demographics by individual so bigoted fuckwits can be weeded out (and tossed into prison?) based on their actual performance rather than your pious and stupid faith in ideological simplemindedness..

  4. Charles 4

    I find it hard to avoid an ad hom attack on that Garrett bloke. No one in a position to influence or create any kind of government policy should be crazier than me. Perhaps if one of the requisites for corrections policy was that the people who build these systems have to live for a year inside them, with no special privileges, we’d see some “moments of enlightenment”.

  5. In Vino 5

    Minor point – I think ACT started with the deceptive name of ‘Association of Consumers and Taxpayers’, not ‘Citizens’. Trying to sound as if they were on the side of the ordinary person… who has suffered rather than gained from their policies that unfailingly widen the gap between the rich minority and the more numerous poor.

  6. Southern Man 6

    I thought ACT was an acronym for ‘Arseholes Coming Together’.

    • Colville. 6.1

      Says a lot about you really.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.1

        What does it say about you, that you support policies that increase crime?

        Yes, yes, I know you believe the opposite very very hard, and that’s no excuse.

        • Colville.


          you really need to stop drinking that stuff.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            No excuse: you are one of the reasons why NZ has one of the highest recidivism rates in the world. More crime, thanks to you. Shall I be charitable and assume it’s because you’re stupid?

            • Colville.

              stubborn rather than stupid is the considered opinion of people that now me.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                That’s a piss poor excuse for advocating policies that create crime. Haven’t you got a better one?

  7. georgy 7

    You can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

  8. Priory of Sion 8

    Well actually “You” can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear!

    Well not yet anyway!

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    Yet curiously Act’s MP David Seymour seems to want to add relatively minor non-violent offenses? This from a party that started out as “Association of Citizens and Taxpayers“. They seem to show a blithe lack of concern for taxpaye money.

    Act supports private prisons and profiteering and under such conditions more prisoners = more profit. The fact that it would be government guaranteed profit is probably part of the reason why they support it.

  10. Yep, looks like more USA-style lunacy from ACT where they want people to be locked up without parole for burgling someone or for a drug offense. This makes zero sense, and there is a reason why in most countries the sentencing decisions are left for judges rather than made by legislation- because context is important, parole overall leads to lower re-offending and lower costs for prisons, and legislators are unlikely to have the legal knowledge or requisite compassion to make a good decision on sentencing in advance.

  11. Colville. 11

    If ACT will add the manufacture of P to the 3 strikes regime I think that would be a great thing.

    • Lanthanide 11.1

      I’m on two minds about this.

      As far as drug crimes go, manufacturing P is pretty bad. It’s not like pot or LSD or other largely harmless drugs. Unlike the violent crimes, its also something that is obviously carried out over a period of time, and not made in the heat of the moment as many of those other crimes could be, and as such the 3-strikes acting as a deterrent is more likely to come into play. Than again, if you need money and you have no other way to get it, making P is pretty lucrative so the 3 strikes may not be all that much deterrent (crims thinking they won’t get caught ‘this time’).

      But 3 strikes laws are still stupid.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 11.2

      The whole scheme is fundamentally flawed, like everything else ACT propose.

      Here’s a question just for you, Colville: which countries get the lowest recidivism rates in the world and how do they do it?

      When you’ve absorbed the answer, ask yourself why you support policies that create more crime, and then take a little time out to feel ashamed of yourself.

      • Colville. 11.2.1

        Speaking as a chap with a bit of time standing in front of a Judge under my belt.
        I think 3 strikes is great. Lot of very thick selfish people out there that are near imune to anything short of a bat between the eyes.

        If someone is locked away after 2 strikes, stats show that they have probably done 50 other crimes.

        Its not as tho we are locking up an angel.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Yes, I know you believe that very very much.

          Which countries get the lowest recidivism rates Colville? How do they do it?

          Prior to this you could claim ignorance of the fact that your vile prejudice increases crime. That excuse is no longer available.

          • Colville.

            Prior to what?

            you need to show me something that I can believe.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Hence my suggestion that you discover which countries achieve the lowest recidivism rates, and how.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Prior to what?

              Prior to this point in time. I’m being charitable, and assuming that until this point, you were ignorant rather than vile.

    • Tracey 11.3

      on what factual basis?

  12. Sable 12

    NZ has a shitty criminal justice system and the grotesque privatization of the so called prison system is making it 1000 times worse.

  13. Craig H 13

    If 3 strikes is about protecting society, the final sentence should be preventive detention, not maximum sentence, no parole. That way, they stay inside until they are safe to release, rather than being forced to release them regardless of safety concerns after X years.

    This whole anti-parole sentiment/policy is rubbish anyway – people are fooled into thinking parole is very early release for good behaviour. If parole got abolished or never existed, we would invent something similar on the premise of supervised release being better than unsupervised release. Restate parole as the offender gets a minimum sentence set by a Judge, and then the offender has to convince a Release Board that they are safe to be released, and following that release, has to behave or be returned to prison, and suddenly people are on board with it (or at least, they are in my experience). Anyone who believes sentencing doesn’t include knowledge of likely parole time frames, hasn’t thought about it hard enough (or at all).

  14. David Garrett 14

    Well, let’s see how long this lasts on this site which is so keen on free speech…so long as the commenters agree with you…

    First off, the old “funding” chestnut”…To the best of my knowledge – and I believe I would know – ACT has never received $1 from SST or vice versa. I know you chaps can’t get your heads around it, but other than a couple of wealthy individual donors, (and I do mean “a couple”) SST is funded by ordinary people…who give $10 or $100 when they can. McVicar is a farmer, and works for SST for nothing and always has. Ruth Money gave two years as his 2iC for nothing. I believe she often paid her own airfares.

    Second, the stats…It is indeed very difficult to know how many of the 5400 first strikers are on the street, and thus “available” for a second strike…but sentences are surprisingly light – which of course was a large part of the reason for pushing 3S in the first place. Our very rough guestimate is that about 60% of the 5400 are currently out of prison. We can’t be any more accurate than that…Corrections don’t keep the stats. We have to try and work it out from media reports and word of mouth. SST has far more supporters than you would possibly imagine.

    We know a lot more about the second strikers because there are far fewer of them, and we have a very diligent researcher who combs the papers. About 25 of those are currently out of jail and thus in a position to commit a third strike – or more accurately, in a position to commit a third strike on a member of public; five of the second strikers committed their second strike while in prison serving a sentence for their first.

    I am very proud of the 3S legislation..it is working exactly as intended, and exactly as we said it would. But I must say I am very pleased Ms Ardern reacted to the story Mr Prentice quoted from by saying “Labour wants the law gone.” The most recent poll I know of showed 87% people supporting the law. So that’s another winner for your team. Please do keep it up!

    • millsy 14.1

      “SST has far more supporters than you would possibly imagine.”

      Which is sad, seeing as the SST is more or less the Ku Klux Klan without the hoods and crosses.

    • lprent 14.2

      Our very rough guestimate is that about 60% of the 5400 are currently out of prison.

      So what you are saying is that you put in a policy without any way of measuring it’s effectiveness? That seems pretty stupid. What do you think was going to happen – that these kinds of statistics were going to collect themselves? Perhaps you should have considered that when putting the half-baked and poorly considered bill before the house.

      I’d point out that any engineer (like myself) would have built inherent performance monitoring into the design. We do it for damn near everything, and for good reason. Without proper measurement you never know if the implementation is succeeding in its objectives or failing. It is only cheap arse scam artists who don’t care how something works after it is paid for who do what you describe.

      So what you are saying, in my view, is that having put a half-baked social design into practice. You are relying on anecdote from a biased sample of people (SST members) who probably notice what they expect or want to see, as all humans do, to then start building a second design based on the presumption that the first has succeeded?

      You are doing this despite thinking that the most offences had effective custodial sentences of more two years (including any parole), that the court has about very long processing times and your gut feel is that 60% of the people given a first strike are through?

      You are either a complete idiot and just a bullshitter.

      The most recent poll I know of showed 87% people supporting the law.

      Perhaps you’d care to link to it so I can point out why the poll got that particular result? Basically I suspect that the poll was a lie at some level and done specifically so you could quote a meaningless figure. You really are an idiot if you think anyone falls for that old lying chestnut tactic of the bullshitters.

      Hopefully the law is made by people who understand it and who consider the consequences. It is quite clear that you don’t care about wasting taxpayers money.

      • David Garrett 14.2.1

        I realise I am wasting my time, but a couple of points there are worthy of a response…firstly yes, it is entirely unsatisfactory that the best we can come up with re how many first strikers are currently on the street is a “guesstimate” based on media reports, and reports from those who happened to be in court the day someone was sentenced. Why you think someone would report back “what we wanted to hear” rather than what they heard in court is beyond me…but then we have very different ways of looking at the world.

        The Justice Dept stats are woefully inadequate to measure the performance of 3S – or indeed to measure much at all other than raw numbers. I’m sure you have seen the 3S website – it provides nothing other than the raw numbers of first and second strikers, and the courts in which they were convicted. It should and could tell us a lot more. I have tried without success to persuade them to include information such as the most frequent strike offences, and the average sentence and non- parole period for each group.

        After that piece you quote from appeared Graeme Edgeler asked me the very relevant question “How do the numbers of second strikers compare with the five years prior to 3S?” As it happens, I am in an OIA battle with Justice right now to try and find that out. In this instance I happen to know their first answer “We dont keep such data” is wrong because of an exercise done when the law was still making its way through parliament – an exercise I was directly involved in.

        You suggest that I myself – or perhaps SST or ACT – should have set up some system to measure its effectiveness. Aside from the fact that such a job is the job of government, none of us have those resources; although you chaps seem to think everyone in ACT is a multi-millionaire, the reality is very different.

        The poll I refer to is an internal Nat poll. Even if I could, I wouldn’t be posting a link to it, and certainly not here.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Everyone else is aware that you think popularity is a measure of effectiveness, and now we know you’re proud of it.

        • lprent

          You suggest that I myself – or perhaps SST or ACT – should have set up some system to measure its effectiveness. Aside from the fact that such a job is the job of government….

          I never said that. That was something you just made up.

          All legislation is designed to elicit a social effect. Like every functional design, it is meant to make something happen. At a bare minimum, that effect should be measured. This is a process that is common to all science, engineering, and even law.

          This was clearly something that you are saying didn’t happen with our 3 strikes legislation.

          It is quite clear on the parliamentary record that you were the person from Act that was shepherding this legislation through the house on behalf of Act. Why didn’t you insert a clause that required the reporting levels?

          From my recollection, this was something that both the Labour and Greens at select committee requested be in the legislation. Why did you not withdraw the legislation when it came out of committee crippled by the lack of it.

          Personally I suspect that you didn’t because a debate without accurate information is that makes it easier for con artists to win. But hey, I could be wrong. I guess we will have to judge on your behaviour eh?

          BTW: Where is the link to the poll you mentioned. I suggest that you examine our policy on being challenged for a link.

    • Craig H 14.3

      SST doesn’t have more supporters than I can imagine – I have no doubt that they are very well supported. I may disagree with many of their public statements on sentences and parole, but I have no illusions that they are a fringe group by any means. Also, they do great work in supporting individual victims of often horrific crimes, and are to be commended for that.

      • lprent 14.3.1

        The questions are

        1. if they have enough members to do the job that the justice department should be doing in monitoring 3 strikes? I suspect not.

        2. merely by being members of SST, do we have to suspect their ability to accurately assess this information without bias. I strongly suspect not.

        3. can we therefore trust the information about the effectiveness of this policy from the? You have to be frigging kidding right!

        Most SST members I have ever run across repeat exactly the same 10 or so cases (presumably the ones that SST tells them about) plus maybe one or two that they heard about through several layers of friends or family. back to me whenever I talk to them about what they are supporting.

        They are seldom in court themselves except on their cases.

        I think that you’d have to be a lunatic or David Garret to suggest increasing prison sizes based on that sampling technique.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 14.4

      Our very rough guesstimate is that about 60% of the 5400 are currently out of prison.

      Can we see your calculations for that? I appreciate they’re just “rough guesstimates”, perhaps we can make them more accurate. Or does “rough guesstimate” really mean “figure I just plucked out of thin air because I have no ethics”.

    • Tracey 14.5

      your first paragraph had me wincing that taxpayers funded your lifestyle for a few years when you seem to have the maturity of a 15 year old.

  15. David Garrett 15

    Oh, one more thing…To the best of my knowledge – and certainly during my time in parliament – neither ACT nor SST has ever received $1 from the private prison industry. Any such approach would have come through either Hide or me…and it never did.

    Again, I know this is difficult to get your heads around…

    • marty mars 15.1

      “To the best of my knowledge” lol – that statement seems to some like a ‘get out of jail free card’ but it really just shows duplicity doesn’t it.

      • Tracey 15.1.1

        from the john banks book on how to convince yourself you are innocent.

        17%+ of Act MPs have been guilty of fraud or deceit yet they want us to take their word for things.

  16. David Garrett 16

    this is probably only ever going to be seen by the moderators…Do you ever wonder, when you lie abed at night, why you feel the need to ATTACK the man and not the ball…pretty much every time?

    Why you need to ban people left right and centre? Do you ever find yourself thinking forbidden thoughts, such as “How come Farrar puts up with pretty much anything except defamatory comments and threats of violence”? Christ, he’s even prepared to let you comment there Mr Prentice, and you refer to his site as “the sewer”!!

    It’s a funny old world…

    [lprent: All ‘first comments’ (ie combinations of handles and ’email’ addresses) pass through moderators before getting released. Subsequent messages from a person fully released by a moderator get no such delays. Putting 3 messages in a row from a new handle/email just means that 3 messages wait until a volunteer moderator sees them.

    If you’d used your brains rather than going off half-cocked, you’d have realised that we’d have to have some such system against spam because we don’t require a registration and logins. But as I pointed out in my post, I don’t think that it appears that thinking about consequences is your strong suit.

    Just don’t get impatient when you can’t remember what you wrote a comment as last time.

    I always attack the ‘man’ and the way that they think because balls (like any other machine) do not think. Humans, men, women and rugby players are meant to. I specifically concentrated on how you didn’t think about the time required to validate the current 3 strikes as being useful. Your call to say that it was working on the basis of 5 years and therefore it should be extended was completely idiotic. If you don’t think that is the case then you can explain more clearly.

    Deal with that. It makes more sense than indignantly using a stupid analogy from a daft game that makes absolutely no sense in politics.

    Like DPF, we don’t particularly care what people call things. We do care about how they behave on our site. We ban for repeated behaviour according to our rules.

    Which coming to think of it is exactly what your 3 strikes and the whole of the legal system does. If people follow the rules of our site, then they don’t get banned. If they don’t then they get banned. If you don’t like that approach to putting rules and boundaries on things, then why did you sponsor the 3 strikes legislation. It is exactly the same social algorithm, except I suspect we thought through ours more deeply than you did.

    We’ve never had a reason to ban DPF (or you). So your analogy is kind of screwed. I guess that my thesis that you have a problem with thinking holds true eh? ]

    • Thinkerr 16.1


      For this website, there is a 3 strikes and then you’re in policy 🙂

      • lprent 16.1.1

        We are less into wasting time than the 3 strikes. Abrupt would be the correct word.

        But dispensing justice isn’t the occupation that we get paid for. It is an obligation that we have volunteered our time to perform. I suspect that changes the dynamic a lot.

        We also don’t lock people up. They can always go to a new life in our equivalent of convict Australia – the sewer at Kiwiblog.

        Periodically we run amnesties. After all people grow up over time (something that is missing in the 3 strikes legislation). So we give people previously banned for long periods a chance to return. Some of the most interesting members of our wee community returned in amnesties.

  17. Why you need to ban people left right and centre? Do you ever find yourself thinking forbidden thoughts, such as “How come Farrar puts up with pretty much anything except defamatory comments and threats of violence”? Christ, he’s even prepared to let you comment there Mr Prentice, and you refer to his site as “the sewer”!!

    David – two points.

    1. Websites like this (or Kiwiblog, or TDB, or Whaleoil, et al) are private property. As such, you have no automatic right to post here. Your bizarre sense of entitlement may be getting in the way of understanding this, but I hope you do.

    The owners of any website have the right to choose what goes on it.They are, after all, the ones who pay the bills. End of story.

    2. “Christ, he’s even prepared to let you comment there Mr Prentice”

    A little while ago, David, I left a post on Kiwiblog. It was fairly innocuous. It never saw the light of day.

    I didn’t complain, whinge, or go on about it. I simply pulled up my big-boy’s socks and went about my life.

    I suggest you do likewise. Or better still, spend some money; commit some time and energy; and create your own website. Isn’t that what you right wingers keep telling those on benefits; “do some work and stop bludging”?

  18. David Garrett 18

    Should have read your comment more carefully… something else that warrants a response: the “stupid analogy from a daft game” presumably refers to the concept of three strikes itself…Ah, well…the Labour government had a law in the pipeline prior to the 2008 election to use exactly the same system for liquor store owners who were convicted of selling to underagers…three strikes and you lose your liquor licence permanently. Funnily enough they didn’t like being reminded of that when they made comments similar to yours during my Bill’s passage.

    I agree that baseball isn’t much of a game – but then I’m not much of a sportsman – but the 3S concept is one which strikes me as inherently just…You get not one but two chances – and in New Zealand two warnings from a Judge of the consequences of your continued offending – before the full force of the law comes down on you.

    It is concept which is catching on all over the world, nothwithstanding its origins. You may be interested to know that Hungary also introduced a 3S system in 2010.

    But back to the US…Proposition 36, which removed non violent felonies from the “strike” regime, was well justified and overdue. There were undoubted injustices in the Californian system when it was first introduced. Our 3S law was designed specifically to avoid situations like “man goes to jail for 25 to life for theft”. Those situations simply cannot happen here – and now after Prop 36, not in California either.

    Oh, and on “increasing prison sizes”…what are you talking about? The prison population today is exactly what it was five years ago…and on the most pessimistic estimates (based on offending stats over the last 50 years projected forward but with three strikes affecting sentences) 3S is likely to require 425 extra beds over 20 years. That’s assuming no deterrent effect, which happily appears to be an incorrect assumption.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 18.1

      “Happily appears” – on the basis of your “rough guesstimate”, you’re satisfied you’ve done the right thing.

      Have you the faintest idea how moronic that is?

      • David Garrett 18.1.1

        Mate, if it makes you happy to think of me as as moron..fill ya boots! Sticks and stones and all that.

        So here’s another moronic prediction: if in 10 years time violent crime is down 20% on 2010, I can absolutely guarantee that you chaps will ascribe none of that reduction to 3S..it will all be done to “other factors”..and odd as it may seem, I won’t really care WHAT did it…I’ll just be glad the reduction happened; that more people are alive and fewer people were raped and bashed than hitherto.

        • One Anonymous Bloke


          If you can’t tell the difference between my describing your behaviour as moronic, and calling you names, then perhaps the cap fits.

          Did you understand the criticism?

        • Tracey

          did you know that by 2009 the rate of murder for capita had dropped largely from the 70s?

          nothing to do with 3 strikes.

          do you care about the huge nu.mbers killed or injured in workplace accidents and what measures did you support or instigate to address this as an MP?

    • b waghorn 18.2

      Can you please explain why the SST were fine with the sentence given to the man who murdered the young the guy for tagging his fence.

      • David Garrett 18.2.1

        I am not SST…I have no idea how many of its members were “happy” with that sentence. I can say with certainty that none I know would have been happy that a young fellow lost his life.

        But that’s enough…they say “explaining is losing” in politics, and I’ve already done a fair bit of explaining this morning…more important things to do, like playing with my son. His tackling is terrible.

        • lprent

          Perhaps you should point this out to Stuff?

          Garrett, now the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s spokesman on the legislation…

          Or more charitably – clarify your comment and position to make such statements.

          • b waghorn

            Thanks for highlighting that I’m starting to think I need to change my name to gullible fool

            • lprent

              In a very narrow sense, he is correct.

              In the same way that I am not “The Standard” and the way that I insist that “The Standard” is a machine and that people should talk to people.

              However someone who is reported as claiming to speak for the Sensible Sentencing Trust should be able to speak for them without that limp excuse.

              His correct response should have probably been that he wasn’t the spokesman at the time and had no awareness of the reasons, and possibly that he would undertake to find out.

          • David Garrett

            The Stuff story was written by a journo in Palmerston North, and originally published in the Manawatu Standard.

            He asked me 7 written questions, to which I supplied full and complete answers. He asked Seymour the same seven questions, mutatis mutandis.

            Surely it does not surprise you that he only used tiny quotes from the answers? That is what journos do. I respond fully to any journo who asks me questions on 3S.

            But to kill two birds with one stone, I will respond to your comment about sentencing. With respect, you clearly do not follow sentencing closely. The woefully inadequate sentences handed down in the District Court were one of the main drivers of 3S, and ironically, one of the main reasons it is likely to bite sooner rather than later (I told Cosgrove in response to a sneering interjection that I thought it would take 20 years to really bite, which led to endless ridicule), as first strike offenders are back on the street way earlier than we would expect.

            One of the reasons the Nats supported the law past first reading, and to reject Power’s proposal of a three year “qualifying sentence”, was evidence I was able to show the PM of offenders committing strike offences – usually with a history of lesser violent offences – and getting less than three years. I managed to come up with 30 or so in about two hours research.

            Here’s a good example. One Elijah Whaanga has become something of a poster boy for the anti 3S brigade, being described as a “playground bully” because his second agg robb (strike two) was the theft of a skateboard and a hat. The media fail to mention his first strike – also a street agg robb – where the victim had his teeth kicked in and all his money taken. The second victim had no money on him, which is why he only lost his skateboard. Neither offence was committed in a playground. Whaanga is in his 20’s.
            He has a lengthy history of violence, including a home invasion in which he indecently assaulted a young girl.

            What was his second strike sentence? Six years or so do you think? No, two years nine months, which will run out before Christmas. He will therefore join the other 25 odd second strikers who are out, and in a position to commit strike three. No-one would be happier than me if that never happens.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              woefully inadequate sentences

              If you had the first idea about penal policy you would know that longer sentences increase recidivism rates. You’d be getting your ideas from countries where prisons actually reduce crime.

              But no, you’d rather indulge your pathetic vengeance fantasies. It would be pitiful if it weren’t for the massive amount of harm you do.

            • lprent

              Ah now you are lying with statistics… In this case by taking only the people on one extreme of a population range.This was why I carefully and deliberately emphasised the word median below.

              Remember, what we are looking at here is if there is ANY effect visible thus far about a deterrence effect on people committing these crimes or if there was any benefit to society within the 5 years that this legislation has been in place.

              I contended that you were a idiot for thinking that anything could be measurable and that adding offences to an unproven in NZ and ineffective legal approach overseas was ridiculous.

              It seems to me that you are quite desperate to avoid any discussion on those points by some very selective digressions and analogies. Why?

              You have neglected to point out Elijah Whaanga’s first sentence. Perhaps you should detail it rather than (deliberately?) obscuring it.

              But I’d have to say that I think 2.75 years is exactly the sentence that I’d have expected for someone of that age, that kind of offence, and the previous offences you mentioned.

              Perhaps you’d explain the benefits society receives from spending about $70k per year incarcerating him? Clearly the judge didn’t see any. Did the judge happen to add any other requirements to the sentence that you have neglected to point out?

              The young fool isn’t likely to learn anything more about how to handle himself with a longer period in prison than he would be with shorter 3 year period (including remand) with more resources spent on drug treatment or training him about handling his violence.

              Basically, all I see you advocating is a rather expensive and ineffective revenge. Would you care to comment on that?

              BTW: If you are concerned with sentencing in the district court, then why don’t you and the SST target that? Rather than lumbering taxpayers with huge downstream costs.

              • David Garrett

                You see? It’s simply a waste of time engaging with you people…we are all “delusional” idiotic” “moronic” or “lying”..

                I’ll let you into a little secret: When I first went to parliament I thought the Labour members must be a bit thick..how could they possibly support policies which kept people on the dole, especially young people, when the results of long term benefit dependence are well known to be very bad for society and catastrophic for the individual? They must be not too bright, or at least poorly informed.

                Then it dawned on me: those opposite weren’t stupid at all – they KNEW that a young person who went “on the bene” and then stayed there for two years became unemployable. The KNEW that work – any kind of work – was better for individuals that benefit dependence, but they just didnt care; they need a pool of benefit dependent people to keep voting for them.

                And so ends my first experiment since leaving parliament in attempting to engage with the rabid left. Have fun reinforcing each others’ opinions…I have better things to do with such a lovely day. You know…trees to cut down; toxic waste to release on my unsuspecting neighbours…the things us right wingers do for fun.

                I like the big print over here though…much easier to edit with my aging eyes.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  How to say nothing in five paragraphs.

                  That’s the thing with the centre-right: once they lose an argument they attack the messenger. Not that Garrett made a single attempt to address any of the criticisms of his behaviour.

                  As can be clearly seen from his ranting: he is motivated by hate, and has zero sense of personal responsibility.

                  Edit: as for the ridiculous lies about Labour, unemployment is always at its highest when the centre right are doing the flailing incompetence they call “being in government”.

                  • Colville.

                    You are completely full of shit.
                    The unemployment rate rose to 11% under labor in the lead up to the 1990 election IIRC

                    • Grant

                      And IIRC unemployment continued to rise to at least 13% under the subsequent National Govt.

                    • Colville, you’re full of shit. If the unemployment rate in 1990 was 11% that actually confirms what OAB said about the flailing incompetence of right wing governments. Even ones that are ACT in disguise.

                    • Colville.


                      Am I missing something?

                      Labour went out and National came in in the 1990 election. unemployment had risen to 11% under Labour.

                      I was one of the 11% (in 1991 for about 4 months)

                      Grant. According to stats it peaked at 10.6 % , but was over 10% from 89 to 92 before it dropped to circa 6%.

                    • What you’re missing is that economically, the Lange/Douglas Government of the late eighties was not typical Labour; it was hijacked by the neo liberal right, which is why it often gets referred to as ‘the First ACT government’.

                    • Colville.

                      ahh…so the Old Labour Party wasnt the “real” Labour Party…

                      Is that why so many people voted for them?

                    • Grant

                      Colville. I have a clear memory of the National Govt of the early 90’s doing much redefining of the nature of unemployment and the unemployed so that the statistics gathered suddenly didn’t reflect large numbers who had been captured before. I also have a fairly clear recollection of political commentary at the time agreeing that the true figure of unemployment under the old definitions would have been closer to 13% than anything the stats were saying.

                • Tracey

                  no wonder your son cant tackle

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Then it dawned on me: those opposite weren’t stupid at all – they KNEW that a young person who went “on the bene” and then stayed there for two years became unemployable. The KNEW that work – any kind of work – was better for individuals that benefit dependence, but they just didnt care; they need a pool of benefit dependent people to keep voting for them.

                  And yet it’s the right-whingers like you who want to keep unemployment at 6%+ so as to keep wages down while the Left want to get everyone who wants to work into work.

                  Like most RWNJs, you’re lying about your goals.

                  • Colville.

                    If the left is so desperate to get people into work why does it insist on such stupidity as a high minimum wage when its proven to cause unemployment?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Citation needed. Come on, show us your ‘proof’, and then explain why when Sir Michael Cullen raised the minimum wage faster than inflation, unemployment went down to its lowest level since the 1970s.

                      Yes, yes, I know you believe the opposite so hard and you’re so sure you’re right. It counts for nothing – show us your proof, then when you fail, have the guts to withdraw.

                      Edit: also, while you’re at it explain why Seattle has the highest minimum wage in the USA, and unemployment of 3.7% when the national average is 5.5%.

                      Hint: you can’t explain it, because you’ve been lied to about minimum wage effects. Don’t feel ashamed: the centre right pays a lot for its finely crafted lies: you’re not alone in being duped.

                    • Colville.

                      Well I got back from Portland a few months back, machines taking my orders in a Maccas instead of a person.

                      Funny that happened after the $15/hr minimum wage started huh?

                      Nice city tho, I do recommend a visit.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Is that your ‘proof’? Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha sad.

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      Colville. Corporations strive to turn all labour into discount commodities, and finally, to eliminate labour costs all together. Face it, even if McDonalds could get slaves for free it would still consider automation cheaper in the long run and more reliable.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Indications are that a high minimum wage don’t decrease employment. In fact, some studies actually link a higher minimum wage to higher employment. Something about more people having more to spend increasing demand for services.

                      Well I got back from Portland a few months back, machines taking my orders in a Maccas instead of a person.

                      And I’m one of the people who will say that’s absolutely great. Why? Because it means that person is now freed up from doing that nearly useless job and are thus available to do something more important. Considering that they’re in the US perhaps the government could now hire them to fix some of their failing infrastructure. Well, they could except that businesses would complain about that as well. They’d say that the government was taking all the available employees and thus pushing private employers out of business as they did here 1980s.

                      You see, businesses and capitalists like having a large pool of unemployed so as to keep wages down and thus let the capitalists grab all the benefits of the communities work for themselves. It’s what causes the recessions and poverty in every capitalist nation and it will, eventually, cause the collapse of society.

                      Our social system (capitalism) is neither economic nor sustainable.

                    • Macro

                      @ CR

                      Face it, even if McDonalds could get slaves for free it would still consider automation cheaper in the long run and more reliable.

                      Actually maccas prefer to hire coz they are cheaper than slaves – you have to clothe feed and house slaves and make sure they don’t run away (and its not good PR)- well sort of. Better to let the state pick up those externalities.

    • lprent 18.3

      Perhaps you should read my post and comments more closely.

      The prison population today is exactly what it was five years ago…

      Do you actually understand the 3 strikes legislation? It seems like you do not. Either that you simply haven’t through this markedly ineffective legislation

      I wouldn’t expect to see ANY change in prison populations until some third strike prisoners go through the system. That is likely to take a very long time – which is why we need clear and accurate measurement to detect early effects.

      Because of the serious nature of the crimes in the legislation and existing sentencing requirements, I’d expect that the median time for each of the stages to be something like (my probably low guesstimates)

      strike 1 – takes 4 years to go through capture, courts and prison
      strike 2 – takes 7 years to go through capture, courts and prison
      strike 3 – takes 2 years to go through capture and the courts, Normal existing median sentence 8 years.

      So we would expect that more than half of the offenders wouldn’t even be swelling the prison population until well after 20 years. Because they wouldn’t have any time that they weren’t already going to serve.

      So in 20 years, even without any change in behaviour with our current legislation there will only be a trickle of extra beds required. 425 sounds about right.

      Incidentally, if you notice the first number, you will see why I think that the SST 60% first strikers are out is simply self-serving bullshit. It is more likely to be closer to half of the prisoners for those offences from 2010-2011. I really wish bloody lawyers would learn some maths.

      Now consider what you and Seymour are asking for. You want to put offences with far lower sentences through. This pushes all of the median down. Way way way down.

      I haven’t looked at it closely. But I’d expect that burglary alone would double the prison population over the next 20 years – because I don’t expect any deterrence effect (nothing I has seen indicates that there is any statistically measurable effect).

      Give me some numbers to disprove that. That should be easy enough to find…

      • David Garrett 18.3.1

        “Give me some numbers to disprove that…”

        Jesus…and you call me stupid and accuse me of having poor comprehension skills!

        “Strike 2: takes seven years to go through capture courts and prison” Your words…

        By your own admission, after just FIVE years we have not one or two, not half a dozen, but 78 second strikers…ALL of whom have gone through the three-fold process you correctly describe…and roughly 25 of them – to be joined by Whaanga by Christmas – are now OUT of prison and thus available to commit strike three…

        I think it’s called “hoist by your own petard”…isnt it?

        Please feel free to “point out” where I am wrong in blowing a whole in your time estimates…but try not to be so a..n..g..r..y…it’s really not good for you Sir!

        • lprent

          78 people given a second strike out of 5400 given a first strike. That is what? About 1.4%

          Yeah I know that you say 60% of the first strike have exited their sentences, but that simply isn’t credible. And you have offered absolutely no evidence to show that this amazing total is even possible.

          Remember that the MINIMUM maximal sentence for all of the offences in the current 3 strikes is 7 years. Judges when sentencing for those types of offences usually impose prison time. Usually years of prison time.

          You have a fundamental problem in your maths.

          You have NO CREDIBLE IDEA how many people have exited first strikes sentences. So you don’t know if the number of people going into second strike is high or low.

          So the number of people who have exited their first strike sentences – UNKNOWN, but my best guestimate says the MAXIMUM is probably on the order of 10-20% based on normal sentencing and parole times. Most of those will have exited in the last two years from offences sentenced in 2011-2012.

          Number of released first strike people who have committed a second strike offence and are uncaught – UNKNOWN.

          Number of people on remand waiting trial and sentencing on a second strike offence – UNKNOWN.

          Number of people caught and already sentenced on a second strike – KNOWN. 1.4% of first strike contingent. However I’d bet that they are way less than than numbers in the previous two categories.

          Number of people who have exited their second strike sentence – UNKNOWN

          Now you have absolutely no realistic idea of the effects of 3 strikes because there are way too many unknowns.

          I think you are just bullshitting numbers and you have no frigging idea on anything you are talking about when it comes to the effects of 3 strikes. Simply you have absolutely nothing to refute that statement with.

          And you are the person who is trying to say that this mythical and insubstantial fantasy of lies is significiant enough to say that

          a. The system has worked.
          a. It can add whole new classes of offence

          Based on your approach to numbers and data here, I can (despite my own aversions to maths) say unequivocally that you really are the mathematical moron.

          Perhaps you should go and study how to calculate a accurate percentage from a divisor that may be anything from 10-60% of a number.

          But going and figuring out a credible way to make that divisor more accurate and finding out the numbers of people in court for second offences would be better. That would will mean that you have some better idea of who many are in the queue towards second offences.

          Until you get some kind of credible numbers, you are simply lying if you say that anything about 3 strikes has been successful.

          Disclosure: I suck at pure maths. However I’m good at applied maths – especially statistics. I managed to get through a BSc in Earth Sciences with all of that lab work, and a MBA majoring in operations research with the maths I have. It is enough that the engineering, physics and chemical nuts that I work with don’t laugh at me too much. And I laugh at them when it comes to complex structural systems.

    • Lanthanide 18.4

      the “stupid analogy from a daft game” presumably refers to the concept of three strikes itself

      Yes, you really should have read the comment much more carefully, as it seems you have bad reading comprehension.

      Here is what you said:

      why you feel the need to ATTACK the man and not the ball…pretty much every time?

      Here is what Lynn said:

      I always attack the ‘man’ and the way that they think because balls (like any other machine) do not think. Humans, men, women and rugby players are meant to. I specifically concentrated on how you didn’t think about the time required to validate the current 3 strikes as being useful. Your call to say that it was working on the basis of 5 years and therefore it should be extended was completely idiotic. If you don’t think that is the case then you can explain more clearly.

      Deal with that. It makes more sense than indignantly using a stupid analogy from a daft game that makes absolutely no sense in politics.

      Clearly he is saying your metaphor “play the man, not the ball” is a “stupid analogy from a daft game”, not the 3 strikes legislation you started blabbing about in this reply of yours.

  19. tricledrown 19

    David you are a delusional individual on the fringe of society a fundamentalist hypocrite!
    Having to project perfectionist ideology onto others when you can’t even come close to meeting your own standards.
    Highly insecure people like yourself push false ideology to try and gain acceptance.
    As for your stats they show you are completely delusional.
    Peter Sharpe’s knighthood proves you wrong the u turn by National on the lock em up and throw away the key rhetoric National used to push.
    Was abandoned in favour of rehabilitation and better policy reducing recidivism.
    Peter Sharpe’s and the Maori Party policy.
    David that’s why you are a washed up failed politician failed father.
    You will be remembered in the same light as a another holier than though lockemup and throw away the key politician Graham Capil!

  20. RedBaronCV 20

    Would it be correct to say that DG projects only 420 people in jail on three strikes but a massive decrease in offending because of this law?
    As far as I know there isn’t a lot of correlation between sentence length and offending or reoffending.
    So what exactly does three strikes do :
    load prisons up with masses of repeat offenders to “protect the community”
    or deter offending and with lots of people on two strikes rates drop ( never mind that offending drops as people get older)

    Can’t have it both ways

  21. Heartbleeding Liberal 21

    If you dig around Kiwiblog, you will find that the man is on record espousing views which can only be described as outright racist (for example he recently stated that he believes that being Maori makes you more likely to steal) and that Maori should be grateful that the Europeans took them out of the “stone age”. When he isn’t doing this, he is challenging people to meet him at his house to fight him, even going as far as to post his phone number. The man is a walking parody.

  22. Heartbleeding Liberal 22

    It really makes you wonder about the real motivation behind the law, anyway here is a sampling of what i refer to:

    DG: […] James Cook observed that Maori were physically the finest specimens of man he had ever seen…but that they were inveterate thieves…they seemed incapable of not stealing…So a bit of nature, along with a culture that just accepts ripping off – especially from “the Man” […]


  23. schwen 23

    At the risk of being labelled a troll:
    There are some useful and thought provoking arguments from both sides of this debate. As one who considers himself to be a swing voter, I find this site, and others, useful to gain a better understanding and perspective on a range of social and political matters.
    However, what I think detracts from the value and appeal of this site compared to others, is the very personal nature of attacks on those commentors holding dissenting opinions. If the purpose of this site is to assist the wider public with a broader understanding of social and political issues from a liberal point of view, I’d suggest that cleaning up the comments sections by constraining some of the vindictive and nasty comments might encourage more people to read, and to contribute their own opinions.

  24. Heartbleeding Liberal 24

    What is a blog (if any) which you find to be properly moderated?

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