The three strikes law for violent or sexual criminals has been used on 132 offenders since last June, mostly in cases of aggravated robbery and indecent assault.
The new law was backed by the National and Act parties as a way to punish the worst offenders, but was vehemently opposed by Labour and the Greens as taking away judges' discretion in sentencing and potentially punishing criminals too harshly for minor offences.
The Sentencing and Parole Reform Act imposes a graduated scale of harsher penalties for repeat criminals who are convicted of one of 40 violent or sexual offences.
An offender receives a normal sentence and a warning for strike one, a sentence without parole for strike two, and the maximum sentence for that offence, without parole, for strike three.
The act came into force on June 1 last year. At December 6, there were 132 offenders who had been convicted of a strike offence and given a first strike warning.
No second or third strikes have been issued.
It's far too early to judge whether or not this policy is working. Given that most of those issued with a strike will have also have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment, few if any will have reoffended.
Reducing reoffending is, of course, one of the intents of the law, hence the graduated scale. It gives offenders the opportunity to ponder their future conduct, with the knowledge that Courts can throw the book at them if they reoffend.
We don't have any difficulty with that. Just as the car-crushing legislation has had a deterrent effect on boy-racer activities, we would hope that the propsect of s sentence without parole next time around would defer a significant number of offenders. We're not so naive as to expect that the Three Strikes policy will deter all offenders, but there is some comfort in knowing that recidivist violent offenders will be off the streets for a long time if they continue to offend.