Friday, November 25, 2016

Manifestly unjust

What does National's "three strikes" policy look like in practice? Seven year sentences for bottom-pinching:

A man who grabbed a prison officer on her bum has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

The length of the sentence for the offence involved - and the legislation that enforces it - has earned stern criticism from sentencing judge Kit Toogood.


"I have no option but to sentence you to the maximum term of imprisonment prescribed for the offence - seven years' imprisonment. I agree that is very harsh given that what you did was not the most serious assault of its type, but Parliament has determined that your history of violent offending requires a very stern response to protect the public from you and to act as a deterrent to you and others.

"It may seem very surprising that this consequence could be required by law for an offence of this kind, but that is the law and I have no option but to enforce it.

"Were it not for the requirement to sentence you to the maximum term of seven years, the need to denounce your conduct, hold you accountable and deter others and you from such offending, it would likely have resulted in a period of no more than 12 months' imprisonment."

Nobody likes a groper, but you don't need to be an apologist for indecent assault to recognise that this sentence is grossly disproportionate and manifestly unjust. Even allowing for parole - something the judge allowed because the legally required denial would have been utterly beyond the pale - this man will still serve over four times as much time as is justified by the offence (two years vs six months in practice, assuming parole in both cases). And the effect of that is not going to be to rehabilitate, or to deter, but to tell everyone that the system is unjust and that if you are caught you will not get a fair go from the courts. Which is a very dangerous message to send. After all, if you're going to get seven years regardless, you might as well earn it properly...

But hey, National got to grub votes from stupid vicious old people who approve of stabbing teenagers for tagging fences, so what do they care? And as always, it'll be other people paying the bill for their stupidity.