Thursday, May 31, 2018

Struck out

The new government is planning to repeal the "three strikes" law. Good. The law was a largely symbolic effort to pander to the "tough on crime" brigade, red meat for the arsehole vote. And every time it actually came into play, the sentencing it required was found to be manifestly unjust by judges. Which pretty much describes the entire law: manifestly unjust. While it didn't affect many people, I will be glad to see it go, because a manifestly unjust society is not one I want to live in.

Labour's other proposal is for greater use of home detention to counter the moral and fiscal failure of National's mass-incarceration regime. Again, that's good. Prison doesn't help anyone, and frequently results in people being denied the help they need. Using home detention for the vast majority of non-violent offenders will help ensure they are integrated in their communities and reduce re-offending, while also avoiding both the cruelty and the massive cost of Judith Collins' prison-fetish. While there will undoubtedly be people who abscond from it, just as there are escapes from prison, they'll inevitably be caught and then sentenced to a higher-security regime. And we should accept that as the cost of having a corrections regime, rather than trying to design one which protects the Minister from bad headlines at the cost of actively harming the public.