It was Winston Peters who first came up with the three strikes and they're out law in the mid 90s, and for offences not as serious as those that attract the sentence today.

At the time I said we'd have to replace corner dairies with prisons.

Currently we have a prison population about the same size of my home town of Gore, such is the public appetite to lock up the baddies and throw away the key.

It's not fair to say the prisons are full to overflowing because of the three strikes law, promoted by Act and implemented by the last National Government.

Advertisement

But it is fair to say there's less tolerance for crime generally.

But has the three strikes law been the answer, has it stopped recidivist offending?

There's little doubt there'll be some on their first and second strikes who'd think twice before going down for a third where they're meant to get the maximum sentence without parole.

But so far only three have been third strikers, one for trying to kiss a woman on the lips in Wellington and two baddies in Hamilton, one for grabbing a prison officer's bottom and the other for robbery.

Thank goodness for judicial discretion, which doesn't stop a Judge from imposing the maximum but does allow compassion when it comes to parole which has been used in all three cases.

Our new Justice Minister Andrew Little's going to scrap the law, saying a person with a mental health condition needs help rather than incarceration.

As it is the attempted lip kisser, sentenced yesterday, will have to spend between two and three years in prison anyway, costing the taxpayer around a quarter of a million bucks for his upkeep.

It does seem the law's being used as a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Advertisement

The heavy hammer of justice should only be used for what it was intended for, heinous crimes of sexual abuse, rape, murder and serious crimes of violence.

And in most cases it is, recidivist offenders for those sorts of crimes end up getting preventive detention which means they can be locked up indefinitely.

It's a judge's job to judge, and while we might not like some of their sentences, they should be able to get on with it rather than have the politicians dictate how they do it.

But the scrapping of the law will present a challenge for NZ First.

The party wasn't in Parliament in 2010 when it was voted in and their stand on it could become another coalition casualty for them, their support will critical for the law to be scrapped.

If it is, their members will not be happy.