It's been a few weeks so it must be time to ban something else. How about gangs? Nearly everyone hates them, and they seem to be causing the usual amount of death and destruction, perhaps even more than usual.
The problem with locking people up for belonging to a criminal gang, is that (if the NZ penalty for other offences is any guide) they would be out in a few months. We are more likely to just annoy them, than actually have any effect.
Here are the conditions I see as important:
- Clearly identifying the list of criminal gangs based on prior convictions of its members, or some other means proven in court
- Publish this list widely in newspapers and through direct contact with the gangs involved, 3 months before the list comes into effect
- Clearly list what does and does not constitute membership of a particular gang (wearing the clothes? associating with known members? wandering past the gate? needs to be very clear)
- Sentences for belonging to the gang of at least 3 years in prison (not 1 year then parole)
- Clear and effective means of ensuring that gang members do not associate while in prison
- Since it is a potentially dangerous law open to abuse, runn the law for a limited time, perhaps 3 years, and then require it to be re-introduced to continue
It should be very difficult for someone to claim that they didn't know about the ban, or that they thought it was just a social club. We don't want the Gareth Morgan motocycle club getting caught up in it!
Another option would be to simply legalise all drugs. It might reduce productivity a bit though, and would surely be dangerous given the massive amount of welfare dependency and child neglect in New Zealand.
The Heralds reports on this, but also notes:
Changing their tune:
"To say that if we outlaw [gangs] by law, that will happen, is, I think, dreaming."
- Police Minister Annette King, March 16, 2006
"If it works, then I'm 100 per cent in favour of it."
- Corrections Minister Phil Goff, yesterday
The problem is that Annette King is the Minister of Justice, not Phil Goff. And anyway, who cares what Phil Goff is in favour of, when asked for his person opinion. The question is, will they do anything? I suppose, since nothing has happened for 9 years, the answer is (sadly) no.