National obtained documents showing government efforts to change sentencing laws
New Zealand National Party has called on the government to rule out any changes to sentencing laws that will consequently soften its effects.
National obtained documents showing the government sought advice on topics that indicate possible changes to sentencing laws, but the actual contents of the documents had been withheld.
National’s Justice spokesperson, Paul Goldsmith said, "The topics the Government is looking at suggests that, even when a judge has deemed a prison sentence appropriate, it could be replaced by home detention."
Among the topics the Government is seeking advice on include:
- “Automatic release first time prison two to five-year sentences”
- “Presumption of home detention estimate of effect size”
- “Estimate of the automatic release of two to three-year sentences and home detention 18-month maximum options”
- “Gang recruitment avoided and impact of automatic release on gang linked prisoners”
National urged the government to formally rule out moves to further soften sentences for offenders sentenced to prison.
"Given Labour’s ideological agenda of reducing the prison population by 30 per cent, regardless of the crime rate, National is calling on the Government to rule out any changes to sentencing laws,” Goldsmith said. "The best and only way to reduce the prison population is to reduce crime. However, violent crime is on track to increase by 40 per cent under Labour.”
Last year, the government repealed the mandatory sentencing regime commonly known as the three strikes law. The law intended to deter repeat offenders with the threat of progressively longer mandatory prison terms, and to penalise those who continued to re-offend through a three-stage process. The repeal does not apply to people who were sentenced under the three strikes law. This means that offenders who have been sentenced under the law will serve out their sentences as originally imposed.
As National called for the Government not to weaken sentencing laws, it also asserted that it will “unashamedly place public safety and victims at the heart of the justice system."