New Zealand considers '3 strikes' law

Jan. 19, 2010 at 5:44 PM
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- A "Three Strikes and the Max" sentencing policy would keep some violent criminals behind bars for life, the New Zealand government said Tuesday.

Prime Minister John Key announced the plan, The Dominion Post reported. He said the proposed law lists 36 offenses that would trigger maximum penalties.

"I'm talking about those people who consistently pose a very real threat to the safety and security of other New Zealanders," Key said. "Some people will say this bill is harsh, but it's only harsh on the very worst and most dangerous of repeat offenders."

Under the law, someone who commits one of the 36 crimes listed as strikes would get the usual sentence. All 36 carry sentences of at least seven years.

For a second offense, there would be no parole. The third strike would earn the maximum sentence for the crime with no parole, so that anyone convicted of murder or manslaughter as a third strike would have no possibility of release.

The Maori Party said it has strong objections to the proposal. Kim Workman of Rethinking Crime and Punishment suggested the law might backfire by making people facing a third strike more desperate to avoid arrest and conviction.

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