Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another three strikes absurdity

I have a friend whose father had a stroke. It changed his personality. He had been a proud, hard-working, stubborn and conservative man, gruff but good-hearted. After the stroke he would say and do things out-of-character. Come out with overtly racist comments in front of her children who were part-Maori. Other actions she wouldn't speak about. But he passed his days in a home gradually losing touch with reality. His death was, I think, a release for him and the family. I still have fond memories of him from my childhood. We shared a love of country music (an Emmy Lou Harris song was played at his funeral, I think Rose of Cimmaron) and he was more tolerant of me than his own children.

All of this runs through my mind this morning after reading about another 'three striker' being held at Rimutaka while he awaits trial for indecent assault after allegedly, "grabbing the breasts of a fellow resident at a Hutt Valley disabled people's home." He is 69 and suffers from dementia.

The real sadness is there is no-one who will take the man. Not even his family.

The absurdity is that if he re-offends he will end his life in prison. It won't be much use telling this man that if he doesn't want to incur two more strikes he better stop grabbing parts of women's anatomy.

We have an ageing population, life expectancies are increasing and, unfortunately, dementia is on the rise.

Psychiatrist Justin Barry-Walsh, who made submissions opposing the bill on behalf of Australian and New Zealand psychiatrists, said treating mental illness could be more effective at preventing crime than incarceration. "There is a modest but significant relationship between mental disorder and criminal offending. A number of people will be swept up by the legislation who would represent limited risk, at best, to society of serious violence."

(I suppose this produces the scenario whereby the judge exercises his compassion and does not apply the three strikes provision but the question remains over why a process that was purportedly about protecting the public from the very worst violent offenders is capturing seemingly pathetic cases).


Andrei said...

Its hard to know Lindsay because we don't really know this mans past history but on the facts given its heart breaking.

And it points to prisons becoming warehouses for the unwanted - which should never be allowed to happen - it must be resisted in fact.

In the story it is suggested that his medication may have played a role in his offenses. I wondered if he has been given viagra which is used for people with circulation problems.

This is a very difficult case and sound bites from people with agendas will not assist in finding a humane solution

Anonymous said...

The obvious inequity here is that he (or his family) would have paid for his warehousing in a "care home" while we taxpayers have to pay for his warehousing in prison.

The obvious welfare and prison reforms would immediately eliminate this perverse incentive.
At which point his family can choose to pay for his incarceration in a private facility, or make other
arrangements as their ethics and religion permits.

Gooner said...

It is hard to see how he had the intent (mens rea) to commit this offence, if the facts are accurate.

This has nothing to do with three strikes Lindsay. It has more to do with housing people who "fall through the cracks".

MikeE said...

I don't see how its an absurdity.

For the 3 strikes to come into effect, he'd have to be

1)found guilty
2) go to jail
3) Leave Jail
4) Commit another offense
5) Go to jail
6) Leave Jail
7) commit 3rd offense

I can hardly see a 69 year old serving out 2 jail terms and committing a 3rd offense.

@Andrei - exactly would Viagra make you grope someone?

Andrei said...

In my original comment I stated
" we don't really know this mans past history". He may have been imprisoned before maybe long long ago.

What does "He had no significant history of offending until two years ago" actually mean?

Whatever its a worrying story of someone who has fallen through the cracks when it comes to care in his dotage.

As for viagra it is heavily marketed as an aid to increase libido isn't it? I assume it works for that.

It is also prescribed for circulatory problems (under a different name) indeed the drug was initially developed for hypertension and angina pectoris. Field trials revealed a very profitable side effect.

James said...

Theres always the "unless its maifestly unjust to do so" clause in three strikes that can be applied....if a Judge indeed thinks it is.

macdoctor said...

Andei: Viagra makes no difference to your libido, only to your erectile capability.

If this man does not have a history of sexually inappropriate behaviour before the onset of his dementia, then it is certainly a product of his dementia. That being so, it seems to me that this situation has arisen because he has been housed in a standard elderly health unit instead of a dementia unit. The fault therefore lies with his overall health management and a police action at this time is likely to be wholly inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

Once again, euthanasia offers him and his family the only ending to this story other than penury.

Anonymous said...

Segregated accommodation?