Justice Minister Andrew Little has indicated that the government will not repeal the controversial Three Strikes law after opposition from coalition partner NZ First.
While Little acknowledged that the law was not effective in reducing crime, he pivoted away from suggestions of a potentially divisive repeal and instead promised a balanced reform package for the New Zealand Justice System.
“I acknowledge New Zealand First has concerns about the Three Strikes repeal. The strength of this coalition is that change only occurs with the support of all three parties," says Little.
“Further work on a balanced reform package for a more effective criminal justice system that make our communities safer will be considered by the independent advisory panel to be appointed shortly, and progressed in August at the Criminal Justice Summit."
People Against Prisons Aotearoa say stalled efforts to repeal the controversial three strikes law should be resumed.
“The three strikes law imposes longer minimum sentences on repeat offenders. However, this law has had no measurable deterrent effect on crime. There is no evidence whatsoever that it has had any positive effect at all,” says PAPA spokesperson Emilie Rākete.
Meanwhile, the National Party has characterised the news as an 'embarrassing backdown' by the government.
“Just days after defiantly promising to repeal the Three Strikes law, Justice Minister Andrew Little has been hauled into line and revealed to have been making promises he simply hadn’t done the work to be able to keep," says Opposition leader Simon Bridges.
“It’s policy on the hoof and shows why Labour is so reluctant to make decisions and is instead sending everything to working groups – 122 and counting."
A Criminal Justice Summit is planned for August.