Three-strikes: Any U-turn on jailed inmates 'betrayal' of crime victims, Act says

Three-strikes: Any U-turn on jailed inmates 'betrayal' of crime victims, Act says

The Government is betraying crime victims by refusing to rule out reviewing sentences for three-strikes prisoners, the Act party says.

Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi says Act is misleading itself and voters by hyping up concerns over the planned three-strikes repeal.

Faafoi told Parliament “there is no retrospective aspect of this bill” but now says Cabinet wants to give people a chance to say if jail sentences should be reviewed.

Three-strikes: Any U-turn on jailed inmates 'betrayal' of crime victims, Act says

Nicole McKee, Act Party's justice spokeswoman, says victims need the Justice Minister to rule out any resentencing for three-strikes prisoners. Photo / Whanganui Chronicle

“Kris Faafoi wants to revictimise those who have suffered at the hands of New Zealand’s worst violent and sexual offenders,” Act’s justice spokeswoman Nicole McKee said.

“The Justice Minister wrote to the select committee overseeing the legislation asking it to examine whether people already sentenced under three-strikes should have their sentences re-evaluated.”

She said this contradicted Faafoi’s earlier remarks the bill would not be retrospective.

Three-strikes: Any U-turn on jailed inmates 'betrayal' of crime victims, Act says

Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi is keen to ditch the three-strikes law. Photo / Mark Mitchell

“These people were sentenced under the law at the time of their offence. Now Faafoi wants to resentence them under a different law,” McKee added.

The bill to ditch three-strikes was introduced on November 11 and had its first reading a few days later, then was referred to Parliament’s Justice Committee.

Faafoi wrote to committee chairwoman Ginny Andersen on November 23.

“When developing the repeal legislation, Cabinet considered how the Bill should respond to those who have already been sentenced under the law,” he told Andersen.

He said Cabinet agreed he should ask the committee to consider if the Bill should apply to offenders still serving time for a strike offence when the repeal takes effect.

Faafoi today said the three-strikes law Act pushed for years ago was unnecessary and ineffective.

Three-strikes: Any U-turn on jailed inmates 'betrayal' of crime victims, Act says

William Dwane Bell at the High Court in Auckland before he was sentenced to a minimum non-parole period of 33 years (reduced to 30 years on appeal) for the RSA murders. Photo / NZME

“Act are once again being mischievous, misleading and scaremongering in their desperate bid to justify their three-strikes law,” he said.

“Our Repeal Bill does not propose to revisit sentences handed down under that regime. That decision was taken on the basis that we recognise victims would have considered their cases had been dealt with and were now behind them.”

He said recommending the Justice Committee look at that question as part of its scrutiny recognised the issue’s importance.

Faafoi said the public and interested parties deserved the right to have a say.

The Herald asked Faafoi’s office if he could rule out any retrospective aspect, and if not, why he told the House of Representatives there was no retrospective aspect.

“He wants to let the Justice Select Committee do its work,” a spokesman for Faafoi said.

McKee this afternoon said Faafoi was “trying to have it both ways” and victims deserved better.

“He wouldn’t have written to the select committee asking them to look at this if he didn’t want it to happen. He needs to categorically rule this out, so victims have comfort and certainty that violent offenders who have already been sentenced won’t be released early.”

“Tore the family apart”

The family friend of a woman murdered in a 2018 domestic violence attack was in court when the killer got sentenced to 20 years’ jail.

The Waikato murderer had previous strikes for wounding with intent to injure, and for aggravated robbery.

He launched such a frenzied beating, the young woman could not have an open casket.

The friend today said the murdered woman’s mother was still deeply traumatised three years later and talk about the law change upset her as well.

“It makes her sick. Life will never be the same to her family.

“It tore the family apart. It’s just been heartbreaking for a strong woman to be broken like that.”

The killer could have been jailed for life without parole but the sentencing judge said that would be manifestly unjust.

“There was no remorse whatsoever. He walked out of the court with a grin on his face.”

She said it was imperative the killer’s sentence was never reduced.

‘Catch and release’ policing

Dairy and Business Owners Group chairman Sunny Kaushal blasted the three-strikes repeal and this week said retail operators were worried.

“The repeal of three-strikes is victory for lawlessness and disorder,” the Auckland businessman said.

“We demand that the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice promise to resign if anyone ends up being killed by a person who would otherwise be in jail under the current law.”

He said ministers “will have blood on their hands” because it’s inevitable a dairy owner or worker will be killed by a criminal set free under a soft criminal justice regime.

“Our people are scared. We no longer live in a safe New Zealand but one where there’s a catch and release approach to policing.”

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