Sunday, July 04, 2004

Don Brash: Tough on Crime

DPF provides a summary of the points of Don Brash's crime speech (I'm linking to it rather than the actual article because I want some practice in linking to other people's blogs). Having watched the news article, it seems to me to be little more than a BAU (Business As Usual) policy.

One of the main planks - that everybody convicted shall have their DNA put on the Data Bank - doesn't faze me at all. It's just that for many low level crimes and for some serious crimes, the DNA ain't gonna be that much use. A shopkeeper notices that somebody has been pilfering his stock. Is DNA going to help? Would the police be likely to consider wasting resources on ordering a DNA test? Similar arguments can be made for most forms of white-collar crime.

The abolition of parole for violent and repeat offenders is, I feel, a bit of a con. Once a violent crim has done his time, plonking him back on the streets without any controls only creates disasters waiting to happen. It is far better have them put on the streets while they still have some of their sentence to serve so that can be used to ensure their good behaviour.

Even for those for whom the above argument does not apply, convicted murderers, making them eligible for Parole is still useful. Most murderers (and I exclude the evil cases here such as Malcolm Rewa, Ralph Stone etc) once paroled rarely reoffend. It makes little economic sense to keep them in confinement indefinitely.

To his credit, Don Brash recognized this by appending the words "as we know it" when he spoke of the abolition of parole for such people. This possible out eluded Paul Swain for some strange reason and as a result, having missed a golden opportunity to attack Brash on that, he was reduced to pointing out that National has a history of promising things and then doing nothing about it when they get into power. Let's see. Promise of a referendum on electoral reform as Lange did in 1987? Promise not to impose a super surcharge as was done in 1984? Promises not to sell either Air New Zealand or Postbank also in 1987? The injunction about throwing stones in glass houses applies especially to politicians.