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Lawyers label three-strikes law barbaric

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/11/2016
Justice Kit Toogod said if it wasn't for the three-strikes law, Campbell was likely to have been jailed for no more than a year. © Getty Images Justice Kit Toogod said if it wasn't for the three-strikes law, Campbell was likely to have been jailed for no more than a year.

It is barbaric that a judge has been required to impose a seven-year sentence for a two-second pinch on the clothed bottom of a female prison guard, the New Zealand Criminal Bar Association says.

Raven Campbell, 25, was sentenced to the maximum jail term of seven years in the High Court at Hamilton on Thursday after admitting indecently assaulting a prison guard at Waikeria Prison in May.

The three-strikes law dictates that a judge must impose the maximum penalty if a person has been convicted three times for certain violent or sexual offences.

Campbell had already been issued with two warnings under the three strikes legislation for robbery and aggravated robbery, and the third crime of indecent assault carried a maximum term of seven years' jail.

Justice Kit Toogod said if it wasn't for the three-strikes law, Campbell was likely to have been jailed for no more than a year.

The NZ Criminal Bar Association said the folly of three-strikes sentencing had been exposed by the first case where it has been applied.

"A two-second pinch on the clothed bottom of a female prison guard by a young man has attracted a seven-year maximum sentence for an impulsive act.

"It is barbaric and contrary to the expectations of a liberal democracy that a judge is required to impose a seven-year sentence for a crime that he or she determines should receive a one-year sentence," the associations says.

There is no incentive for a person charged with a third-strike offence to plead guilty because the sentence will be exactly the same after a costly trial.

Criminal lawyers are already seeing a reluctance among people charged with second-strike offences to plead guilty, the association says.

The law was the brainchild of ACT New Zealand. Current leader David Seymour said the offender got what he deserved.

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