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Did the PM just tell a Porker on Crime?

Why do people mistrust politicians? Could it be how they play with words? In the wake of awful headlines on violent crime and the murder of the dairy owner in Sandringham in Auckland, the PM had this to say on Radio NZ about how she is not "soft on crime":


"We have not lessened the penalties on any individual crime."


Hang on a second, only a couple of months ago in August the media reported this headline:


Parliament Repeals Three Strikes Law


That law said that if you are convicted of a third serious violent offence, then you must be given the maximum penalty for that offence without parole.


Okay. So lets assume the maximum penalty for robbery is 5 years in prison and the minimum 6 months. Let's say you commit one "individual" robbery. You get 6 months in prison. Then you commit another "individual" robbery after you come out. So you get 6 months in the slammer again. Then after release let's say you commit a further robbery. The penalty at this stage becomes five years in prison for that "individual" robbery under "three strikes".


In other words, PM Ardern's government did lessen the penalty on that last robbery - it plummeted from 5 years to 6 months when her government repealed "three strikes".


This blog is not defending "three strikes" as a good or bad law - we are simply making a point that for the PM to have been told by her "crime advisers" to go public with the line that her government has not lessened the punishment on "any individual crime" is an indictment of their sincerity. It's a line designed to trick the public by playing on the meaning of the word "individual".


But even as a trick it doesn't work. When the penalty on a robbery gets cut - from, say, 5 years to six months - to argue the penalty has not dropped at all - because it was the third robbery - serves only to shred one's credibility.


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