Wednesday, April 24, 2024

John MacDonald: The Government is playing placebo politics

Have you ever heard of a placebo policy? That’s what this Three Strikes law is, and I don’t think bringing it back is going to make one bit of difference.

You’ll know what a placebo is when it comes to things like clinical trials where they give someone a sugar pill but tell them it’s medicine, and the person says ‘oh I feel much better, thanks’.

The person thinks they’re using a real pill, or a real drug and their mind tells them that, because they're doing something, it’s working. It’s making a difference. But it’s actually not doing anything.

And placebo policies are exactly the same. They’re policies that people think will work —will make a difference— just because they exist.

Or more to the point, they are policies that politicians latch onto because they think it makes them look like they’re doing something. Even though, at the end of the day, it doesn’t change a thing.

And that’s exactly what the Government is doing with its plan to bring back the Three Strikes legislation. You commit crimes with punishments longer than two years and, the third time, the judge has to give out the maximum sentence. None of this discount business.

That two-year bit is key, because the new version of Three Strikes Version isn’t going to apply to low-level offending.

The idea behind that is to make sure there isn't a repeat of situations that even Labour thought were nutbar. Example: a mentally ill man serving nearly five years in prison for kissing a woman in the street.

Nevertheless, some people love the idea of it. But there is no clear proof that it reduced the amount of serious crime the last time we had it. But the Government is bringing it back anyway because it can and because it will look like it’s doing something.

Criminal defence lawyer John Munro said on Newstalk ZB today that, even though we’ve had this law here before, the Government is pretty much flying blind on this one because there hasn't been any long-term research on its effectiveness the last time we had it.

And some people are saying that it’s likely some criminals, once they’ve been done twice already for serious crimes, will think even less about consequences because they have nothing to lose.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the least bit sympathetic to criminals. Not in the least bit.

All criminals, but especially the lowlifes who commit the likes of the 41 different violent and sexual crimes we’re talking about with this Three Strikes law. You can imagine what they are, I don’t need to go through a list. Although, this time around, there’ll be a new strangulation and suffocation offence included.

But, in your heart of hearts, do you really think bringing this law back is going to make any difference? I don’t think it is. If the aim is to reduce violent crime, then the Government is barking up the wrong tree with this one.

John MacDonald is the Canterbury Mornings host on Newstalk ZB Christchurch. - This article was first published HERE

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keeping recidivist violent criminals longer in jail & away from society is good enough for most NZers.