Prisoners serving long sentences as a result of Three Strikes legislation will not be getting out of prison early as a result of the Government's decision to repeal the law.
That is the recommendation of Parliament's Justice Committee, which reviewed the Government's Three Strikes repeal legislation. The Committee said a regime of retrospectively looking at sentences would be too "complex".
Parliament's Justice Committee recommended the Government's legislation pass, without major amendment.
Three Strikes was an Act creation from 2010 when the party was supporting a National government. The legislation imposes progressively harsher penalties for each "strike" offence committed. By the final penalty, the court must impose the maximum applicable penalty without parole, unless the court considers it would be manifestly unjust to do so.
Labour wants to repeal the legislation, but was unable to in its first term because of opposition from NZ First. Governing on its own following the 2020 election, Labour was able to make good on Labour's promise to repeal Three Strikes - Justice Minister Kris Faafoi introduced legislation to that effect earlier in the term. That legislation has recently returned from select committee.
Faafoi asked the committee to look at what to do with prisoners serving long sentences under the existing legislation and it concluded that it did "not wish to recommend any changes", meaning people sentenced under the original legislation will serve their sentences as planned.
"We have considered this option and we do not wish to recommend any changes to the
bill of this nature.
"Retrospectively changing sentences would require complex approaches that would differ depending on which of the affected groups were included," the committee said.
The committee also said it risked affecting victims.
"Retrospectively reducing sentences or allowing parole would significantly affect the victims of those offenders, who could not have expected any resentencing or parole hearings to occur," the committee said.
National and Act do not back repeal and issued minority reports on the legislation.
No other major recommendations were made by the committee.
Faafoi has previously said the legislation was an "anomaly" in our justice system, because it dictates what sentences judges must hand down irrespective of relevant factors, he said.
"It has led to absurd outcomes," he added.
He said one person was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment for an offence where usually an 18-month term would be imposed.
Faafoi said backers of the law had incorrectly argued it would improve public safety.