Justice Minister Kris Faafoi via Getty
Justice Minister Kris Faafoi via Getty

Lloyd Burr: Three Strikes is out - for now - but it will be back

Opinion 11/11/2021

OPINION: The Three Strikes Law is one of those laws that’s all about politics and perception rather than actual substance. 

It’s about looking tough on crime rather than actual crime reduction.

It was introduced by the ACT Party because its rich, white members wanted to lock up recividist serious criminals for good. 

So when ACT got into bed with National in 2008, it was part of the deal and was law by 2010. 

And it’s an easy one for the public to understand. Three strikes and you’re out. Three crimes, and you’ll have the maximum penalty for that crime thrown at you. 

On the surface, it does look like it’d keep these violent rapists and fighters and murderers off our streets and in prison.  

But in practise, in the course of 11 years, it’s only applied to 18 people. 

And judges almost universally don’t like it. They feel Parliament is stripping them of their ability to make judgements, and instead force them to rubberstamp arbitrary sentences.

In effect, the executive arm of government interfering with the judiciary. 

It also wasn’t having an effect on reducing crime. Crime has gone up across many areas - for example - look at how many murders and killings there have been recently. 

So the law isn’t really working and isn’t reducing crime, so the government is repealing it. 

But no matter how much the government tries to rationalise this decision, it will come across as being weak on crime. 

As I said, it comes down to politics over substance. 

It comes down to optics, and populism. 

And Labour will come out of this looking weak on crime, weak on violent criminals, and weak on those who terrorise others. 

And it’s handed the opposition parties a political bone - and they’ll be like a dog with this bone - and keep grinding away, and chewing away, and munching away at this. 

Three Strikes is out - for now - but it will be back. 

Catch Lloyd Burr Live every weekday from 4pm on Magic Talk.