Plans to repeal three strikes law killed off by lack of NZ First support

by RNZ / 11 June, 2018

Justice Minister Andrew Little. Photo / RNZ

New Zealand First has put the brakes on Labour's plan to repeal the three strikes law - effectively hauling it off Cabinet's agenda.

Justice Minister Andrew Little planned to bring the matter before Cabinet this morning but now says that won't happen.

The three strikes law set up a three-stage system of increasing consequences for repeat serious violent offenders.

On a third 'strike', the sentence must be the maximum possible unless the court considers it would be manifestly unjust.

Mr Little said New Zealand First had concerns about the repeal and indicated they'd be unlikely to support it.

He said further work on a criminal justice reform package will be progressed in August.

A number of victims of violent crime took out a full-page advertisement in today's Herald against the repeal. The open letter, backed by the Sensible Sentencing Trust, said "victims say no."

"We, the undersigned, are all personally the victims of serious violent crime, or close relatives of someone killed, maimed or sexually abused."

"We are all deeply concerned about the proposals to repeal the three strikes law, make bail easier, and generally to let people out of prison who need to be there," the letter read.

Earlier today, opposition leader Simon Bridges told Morning Report the law could reveal a divide between Labour and Mr Peters.

"You'd say on his track record, as leader of New Zealand First, has always been for that law and opposed to change," Mr Bridges said.

"We'll see the power dynamics of that and who's really in charge... Winston Peters may take a slightly different view."

Mr Bridges position was that the law shouldn't change.

"It's had a very strong deterrent effect. It is working," he said.

Mr Little said the law had not successfully reduced serious crime and had also not acted as an effective deterrent.

In 2016, Jacinda Ardern, then justice spokesperson, said the law removed the discretion of judges and should never have been passed.

This article was originally published by RNZ.

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