2 Mar 2014

ACT's '3 strikes' plan divides opinion

12:53 pm on 2 March 2014

The ACT party's proposal to extend three strikes and you're out sentencing to include burglary has divided law and order groups.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust supports it saying the courts are treating the crime too lightly.

Jamie Whyte.

Jamie Whyte. Photo: RNZ

The three strikes law now applies to 40 serious violent offences, for which offenders convicted for a third time automatically receive the maximum sentence, with parole only in exceptional circumstances.

ACT says burglaries are a very personal invasion of property and there needs to be a greater deterrent to the crime.

Chief executive of the Sensible Sentencing Trust Garth McVicar says judges are giving only about a tenth of the sentence that's available to them for burglary.

He says extending the 3 strikes law will give judges mandatory guidelines when sentencing burglars.

But law and order lobby group Rethinking Crime and Punishment, says a survey by the Justice Ministry last year showed only five percent of respondents agreed that prisons deterred people from committing crime.

Spokesperson Kim Workman says the plan by ACT's new leader Jamie Whyte would achieve nothing.

Mr Workman says it is flawed because it does not take into account that some young people sometimes go through a stage of offending, including burglary, which then stops.

He questions how sending them to prison would work as a deterrent given circumstances are often very different for many young offenders.

RMA repeal plan

The ACT party also says it wants to repeal the Resource Management Act.

Dr Whyte told supporters at their annual on meeting in Auckland on Saturday that if elected ACT would try to scrap the law which he says infringes on New Zealander's ability to use their property.

He says there may be a need for the environmental protections in the law, but they shouldn't violate property rights.

But the Greens' resource management spokesperson Eugenie Sage says the suggestion shows ACT shouldn't be allowed to have control of the economy.

She says the party does not understand the connection between a healthy environment and a strong economy.

Ms Sage says the tourism sector in particular is dependent on a protected and healthy environment.