Friday, October 08, 2021

Repeal this unjust law

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled on National's unjust "three strikes" law, and found that the sentence it required was (in the case in question) so disproportionate as to "shock the conscience" and violate the Bill of Rights Act ban on disproportionately severe treatment or punishment:

The Supreme Court has rejected a seven-year prison sentence for a mentally ill man convicted in 2018 of trying to kiss a stranger on a Wellington street without her permission - describing the man's maximum sentence as one that "shocks the conscience".

Daniel Clinton Fitzgerald's sentence - which has attracted plenty of attention over the years because of its reliance on the controversial three-strikes law - will now return to the High Court for him to be sentenced "in accordance with ordinary sentencing principles, taking into account his significant mental health issues".

This is good, and it sets limits around the use of the law in future. And hopefully the victim of this injustice will finally receive the care they need and be compensated for the excessive sentence they have already served. But the government needs to go further. It has already promised to repeal this unjust law twice, in 2017 (when it was thwarted by NZ First) and in 2020 (when it was free of them). Now it needs to follow through. Laws requiring disproportionate sentences have no place on our statute books, and the sooner it is repealed, the better.