Making Bail Laws More Reasonable
We have commented in recent weeks on small changes the New Zealand government is making for the better. Most of these have focused on welfare beneficiaries, with authorities being more comprehensively demanding of beneficiaries that they find a job, lest their benefits get reduced. Authorities are working in a more co-ordinated fashion to the same end. It is making an impact upon beneficiary culture: the message, “you have to get a job” is sinking in.
Another incremental change has just been made–this time to bail laws. It is going to be much harder for serious offenders to get bail.
Bail has always been a bad idea made necessary because of overcrowding in remand prisons and because the justice system moves at a glacial pace. The prospect of having an accused sit in jail for over two years waiting for a trial, at which he or she is subsequently found non-guilty is a manifest injustice. Hence the device of letting accused folk out on bail to await trial. “Innocent until proven guilty” is a fundamental principle of justice, after all. But that application of that principle to criminals awaiting trial has been applied in such a way as to increase crime in New Zealand.
The standing presumption of the old law was that the accused had a right to bail; not to be granted bail required special circumstances and thus a high standard of proof on the part of the Crown.
Now the law has been amended to make a distinction between people accused of murder or those who are repeat offenders, on the one hand, and those who are before the courts for lesser crimes or have limited criminal records. Not only that, the burden of proof to be granted bail moves from the Crown to the accused. The latter must convince a judge that he or she will not re-offend if they are allowed out on bail, pending a trial. The NZ Herald reports:
The bill would require that a person on a murder charge or repeat violence, drugs or sex charges would have to persuade a judge that the community would be safe if they were released. Under present law, the Crown must show why defendants should be locked up.
The Bill passed by a large margin (102-19)–with the National and Labour parties combining in a rare display of cross party support. Full marks to the opposition Labour Party.
There is a caveat to be made, however. Whilst the new law changes the presumption from bail to no-bail, with the burden of proof put upon the accused to justify bail, rather than the Crown proving that it should not be granted, liberal judges are likely to continue their bias on behalf of the accused. We will have judges granting bail because they found the accused’s promise they would comb their hair neatly every morning sufficiently compelling evidence that they would not re-offend whilst at large.
Judges need to be named and shamed in this matter. Since the law now presumes bail will not be granted for serious offenders, when it is so granted and the offender commits more crimes, the bail decisions of judges–together with their subsequent outcomes–need to be published, or at least made subject to on-going judicial review by a panel of higher judges after the effect. Judges with a patterned history of granting bail should be required to pay restitution to any victims of crimes committed whilst the bailee was out. Watch the liberal principles wither faster than new shoots in a hoar frost.
Finally, we note that the Bill was opposed by the Greens, the Maori Party, and Mana. The Maori Party and Mana are flat out racist in their approach to such issues. They argue to their perpetual shame that since Maori are very much over-repesented in the criminal sector, any measure to make the consequences of offending greater must be opposed because it is anti-Maori. In so doing they unintentionally support the argument that race is determinative of behaviour. They add their support to the Darwinians who believed in the mid-nineteenth and for most of the twentieth centuries (and to this day) that some races are naturally less evolved and more primitive. The Mana and Maori parties, thus, ironically concede to racist constructs. Shame on them. In acting so stupidly they actually give evidential warrant to Darwinian idiocy.
As for the Greens they ground their opposition to the new anti-bail law in abstract principles of perceived justice.
Opponents argued that people would be locked up for longer on the presumption that they would offend again in future – a breach of the Bill of Rights Act.
The presumption of guilt in a judicial system is a dangerous thing. But the Greens have taken this important principle and stripped it away from the concrete particulars, turning it into an abstraction–which is even more dangerous. Let’s take their logic seriously for a moment. The Greens argue that we should never lock people up on the presumption that they will offend again in the future. On that ground, no-one should ever be in prison. To incarcerate a criminal assumes in part that he or she will like offend again in the future. Under the Greens idiocy, a convicted murderer must–by some strange reading of the Bill of Rights–be presumed to be a non-repeat offender, so why keep them in prison at all. The convicted murderer or rapist is no more likely to offend again than any citizen, right?
The Greens have no understanding of the human condition, no understanding of morality, of human sin, of deadened human consciences, or of depravity. These things simply do not exist in the Greenist world view. Their view of humanity is entirely mechanical and deterministic: change the circumstances of lives from the outside and all evil acts will evaporate and cease to exist. This abstract mechanistic view of human life and society is not just childishly simplistic, it is self-defeating and contradictory It would mean that Greenist views and opinions and actions are likewise determined by circumstances. Give each Green a million dollars and they would start to think and act very differently. Their principles are like their policies: up for sale. The Greens can be bought off. Simony becomes them.