20 Jan 2010

'Three strikes' sentencing deal unveiled

5:59 am on 20 January 2010

Criminals convicted of a third serious violent or sexual offence are to be sentenced to the maximum penalty for their crime, with no possibility of parole.

The Prime Minister, John Key, unveiled a watered-down "three strikes and you're out" sentencing bill agreed on by the ACT and National parties on Tuesday.

Under the new regime, which applies to 36 serious offences, anyone convicted twice of qualifying offences will not be eligible for parole. For a third conviction, the sentencing judge will have to impose the maximum jail term, without parole, unless it is manifestly unjust.

John Key says the Government wants to see the worst repeat offenders held to account, and the Bill underscores the goal of improving the public's safety. He says some people may see the changes as harsh, but it is only severe for the very worst and most dangerous of repeat offenders.

The ACT party leader says the new sentencing law will make serious offenders think hard before they commit a second or third offence. Rodney Hide says the law will deliberately escalate the punishment for repeat violent offenders.

The Bill waters down the ACT Party's original plan for a third strike to mean a minimum of 25 years in jail. The changes will be incorporated into the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill, and will only apply to those aged over 18 and for offences committed after it has been passed into law.