Parole (Zero Tolerance for Crime) Amendment Bill

Member's Bill

Explanatory Note

The purpose of this bill is to introduce a zero tolerance approach to the serving of custodial sentences. It will introduce truth in sentencing, so that those sentenced by the Courts to imprisonment must serve the time in prison required by the Court.

Under the Sentencing Act 2002 and the Parole Act 2002 passed by the Labour government:

• Any sentence of less than two years is automatically cut in half.

• Offenders committing serious violent offences are now eligible for parole after just one third of their sentence.

• Early release from prison on parole is a failure. The Ministry of Justice’s own reports say that 37% of offenders released from prison re-offend within six months, 58% re-offend within 12 months and 73% within two years.

In contrast those offenders released from sentences of over 5 years have much lower re-offending rates. The Ministry of Justice 2002 report on reconviction and reimprisonment rates states “In general, inmates released after serving shorter prison sentences were more likely to be reconvicted than inmates released after serving longer prison sentences.”

While most offenders re-offend on parole only 10% are recalled to finish their sentences. Now that “undue risk to the safety of the community” is the only important criteria for parole the concept of serving one’s time as a punishment has been lost.

In the USA in those states that have abandoned parole in favour of “Truth-in-sentencing” have seen a drop in serious crime. In New South Wales a provision requiring offenders to serve their court-imposed sentence was ruled by the courts to apply retrospectively. There is no right for parole.

This law will ensure that New Zealand’s most dangerous recidivist criminals serve their full sentences and will prevent many murders, rapes, aggravated assaults and robberies from occurring, as the offenders will be in prison.

Clause 4 inserts a new provision into the Parole Act 2002 that no offender sentenced to a determinant sentence of imprisonment may be released on parole.

Clause 5 amends section 86 to remove the automatic early release for short sentences.

Kenneth Wang

 

Parole (Zero Tolerance for Crime) Amendment Bill

Contents

The Parliament of New Zealand enacts as follows:

1 Title

(1) This Act may be cited as the Parole (Zero Tolerance for Crime) Amendment Act 2003.

(2) In this Act, the Parole Act 2002 is called "the principal Act".

2 Commencement

This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.

3 Purpose

The purpose of this Act is to amend the Parole Act 2002 in order to ensure that offenders must serve in prison the time ordered by the Court.

4 New section 19A inserted

The principal Act is further amended by inserting before section 20 the following section:

“(19A) Parole Abolished in respect of determinate sentences

“Despite any provision in this Act or any other enactment, no person serving a determinate sentence is eligible for parole.”

5. Release date of sentence

Section 86 of the principal Act is amended by repealing subsection (1) and substituting the following subsection –

“(1) The release date of a short-term sentence (including a short-term notional single sentence) is the sentence expiry date.”