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escalating violence in our community
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Sensible Sentencing Trust
Ross Crosby became a member of SST in 2004. He is the webmaster's number one assistant and motivator and helps with the Offender Databases.
The reasons why Ross joined SST is because he is against lenient sentences for serious violent offenders, he wants to help lobby for victim's rights and has an special interest in community protection from sexual predators and online protection from sexual predators. He also helps the webmaster work on the Offender Databases and is the creator/editor of the Database Sentencing Tracker.
These are his comments;
One thing that disappoints me about the NZ Justice system is that they're sending people to jail for very petty crimes such as stealing library books or growing a little bit of cannabis. The only people who should be primarily sent to jail are those who are danger to society. A lot of these criminals really are no danger to the public, some of these people are in prison because they have got mental health problems or drug and alcohol addictions - but have no record of violent or sexual offending.
I was furious to find out Paul Bailey the convicted killer of Kylie Smith was sentenced to just three years jail for sexually molesting and repeatedly raping a 12 year old girl at knife-point - this does not make sense!!! Another thing is a mentally ill woman was arrested after being found under a bed of a hostel because she had no place to live - she was sentenced to two weeks in prison. It was her first offence - this also doesn't make sense!!! Compared to Bailey this woman is not actually a true criminal.
One of the things I would like to see is a lot more use of home detention and other non-custodial sentences for non-violent and non-sexual offenders. Many people including some SST members may think home detention is no punishment at all and that it is a "soft option" but I do not agree. Home detention is the second most serious sentence in NZ that a court may impose. For some offenders rehabilitation is more important than retribution and punishment. In my view the public perception about home detention is no reason as to why we should not have it.
So far things have gotten pretty good in the NZ Justice system such as the 3 strikes law which aims to keep recidivist violent offenders off the streets, a law which came into force in June 2010 and it is the first time the NZ Courts have the jurisdiction to impose true life sentences since the death penalty. I know there may be some people who think this law does not go far enough but I personally am extremely satisfied with this law. I am even happy for us to keep parole eligibility at one third of a sentence of imprisonment for non-violent and non-sexual offenders including some violent offenders, if it is their first strike offence and in exceptional circumstances such as that the offender was genuinely provoked e.g. a case of excessive self defence.
While on issues relating to sentencing and parole in NZ there are some more changes I would like see to NZ legislation;
As I said we have seen some massive improvements in the NZ Justice system, but still could improve including make information on offenders more public. The reality is that releasing some on parole is better than releasing someone at the end of their prison sentence without any supervision or conditions at all. However I think we need three strikes and no parole for repeat violent offenders.
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