Thursday, 12 March 2009

Garrett continues to remove all doubt [updated]

ACT’s brave new MP David Garrett continues to defend the indefensible.  Still proudly defending his insistence that the already fairly toothless Bill of Rights Act be further emasculated to suit his view of the importance of individual rights -- “we've got too hung up on people's rights," maintains the “liberal” party’s most unlikely representative -– he’s now got his back even further to the wall, at Lindsay Mitchell’s blog, on the subject of the safety of prisoners

In defending his implicit assumption that there’s no one in our jails who are there only for victimless crimes, he makes this explicit challenge to Mike Earley,

if you can draw my attention to anyone who is in jail for "smoking pot" and nothing else, $100 is yours...

Looks like he is as foolish as he is ill-informed. Quick as a flash, Mike obliges.

One begins to realise the beauty of Keith Holyoake’s advice to new MPs to breath through their nose for their first three years.  And also, perhaps, of Mark Twain’s valuable advice to fools.

UPDATE: Liberty Scott clarifies the problem with Mr Garrett’s position:

    It is one thing to say prison shouldn't be comfortable - which is right, it shouldn't have TV, videos and the like. Similarly the smuggling of drugs and cellphones should be stamped upon.
    It is another to be nonchalant about prisoners being raped.
   So now [from the ACT Party and its supporters] we have that it's okay for people to be in prison for growing cannabis for personal use, okay to be in prison for sedition, presumably also for inciting racial disharmony (three months sentence), tax evaders of course, blasphemy can have a prison term (though been a long time since used), as can consensual adults-only incest, as can possession of an erotic story involving consenting adults. . .
    How fucking hard would it be for ACT to, in principle, oppose victimless crimes, while at the same time recognising that some victimless crimes need to be addressed comprehensively. . .  ?

Obviously, no government will be conveniently keeping figures on how many they have incarcerated for victimless crimes, but when I last looked at this question NORML were pointing out that "New Zealand has the highest recorded cannabis arrest rate in the world, at 606 people arrested per 100,000 population per year. The United States is second with 247 arrests per 100,000 population per year."
Not a great statistic in which to come first. NORML's Cannabis Arrest-o-Meter shows too that there have been 123,303 cannabis offences [from 1000 to 2006] and that cannabis offences number just over 80% of all drug offences. So that's an awful lot of victimless arrests.

    As for the prison population ... if you check the recent NZ Corrections Dept stats ... of 6,250 prisoners (costing taxpayers $56,575 per year) they suggest upwards of nine percent of male offenders are incarcerated for drug offences, and eight percent for traffic offences.
    "The main reasons [given] for male imprisonment are: 39 percent for violence offences; 22 percent for sexual violence offences; 22 for property offences (e.g. burglary), 9 percent for drug offences; 8 percent for traffic offences."  Yes, traffic offences.

Meanwhile, Blair Anderson from the Mild Greens has some more recent figures:

Drug offences rose slightly between 2007 and 2008 from 18,908 in 2007 (year ending 30 June) to 19,259 in 2008. Within this overall rise there was a shift in the composition of these offences with more Cannabis related offences (14,449 to 15,288) and fewer offences for other and most often harder, drugs (4,450 to 3,971). Overall the level of drug related crime is 13% lower in 2008 than in 2004 when there were 22,249 drug offences of which 18,271 were Cannabis related.

And Lindsay Mitchell follows up on the point this morning:

First I reiterate a part of a post from earlier in the week;
    "’ The fact is: if you don't want to be assaulted - or worse - by a cellmate, avoid prison by not     committing a crime,’ Mr Garrett said."
My response; 
    “I wonder if Mr Garrett has forgotten that there are people in our prisons who are not violent; people who are guilty only of victimless crimes; people who should properly be in the care of psychiatrists and nursing staff; people who are on remand awaiting trial who may not even be convicted. . .”

And as always, Lindsay likes to base her own case on the figures, and Chris Fowlie at NORML has supplied Lindsay with some numbers from the 2002 Health Select Committee cannabis inquiry report:

p32: "Of the 9,399 prosecutions for the use of cannabis, 6,761 resulted in convictions, and 52 custodial sentences were imposed."

And from parliamentary questions:

Question 8479 (2004) … Paul Swain (Minister of Corrections):
The total number of inmates imprisoned for possession of drugs but not manufacture or supply of drugs in each of the last five years is as follow:
1999 431 inmates
2000 430 inmates
2001 443 inmates
2002 386 inmates
2003 411 inmates
2004 157 inmates (up to 31 May 2004)

As Lindsay says, “While most sentences would have been for drugs other than cannabis, these substantial numbers represent the victimless crimes alluded to.” 

These are just some of the people Mr Garrett and his ACT Party wish to ignore.

And he still owes Mike $100.


  1. Jeez! An ACT party MP being unaware that people are sent to jail for smoking pot! I've lost a whole lot of respect for ACT since they've been in Government.

  2. Has he coughed up the cash? I'm surprised you haven't made reference to the fact that he bet $100 of his MP's salary, tax money.

  3. Actually, I hear that guy is in for cultivation, not smoking.

  4. That sounds like a lawyer's response, Peter, rather than an honest one.

  5. ...and? Cultivating pot is also a victimless crime.

  6. That was 10 years ago. Are there any recent examples of man or woman smoking pot (not cultivating - which if given to others is hopelessly deemed to be a crime with a victim) and ending up in the slammer?

    Garrett asked specifically for anyone "in jail". The tetrapelic clearly now is not.

  7. Come on guys, the smoking pot might be the easiest to prove.

    Just the idea that thousands of police will be suddenly available and even more thousands free is fairly ridiculous.

    And PC: cultivating pot just for his own use? Or on a rather more ambitious scale?

    Why is it so hard to find a single person who is in jail for just smoking pot? Happens all the time according to some.

  8. People are convicted when innocent. Happens all the time, everywhere, daily. If you don't know this, you're not educated. Period.
    On top of this, people have rights that cannot be taken away even if they violate other peoples rights. We cannot do whatever we want to human beings, regardless of their crime. There are limits. Surely you can see the morality in this?.
    Its attitudes like David Garrett that turns me off. His hatred for crime is something I share and so are many of his policy prescriptions. I'd usually be in his camp. But he shows no philosophical respect for a just system of law e.g. for the rights of the accused and so forth.
    As to people being sent to prison for smoking, the legalistic answer is that users do not get prison terms unless they possess a large enough amount to seen as a dealer. They can suffer in many ways from just diversion and heavy users can innocently be sent away as dealers. Even then, I question the idea that there is a victim involved in dealing. I Suppose theirs a victim every time someone makes a bad decision. What a sad view of people. What ever happened to our responsibility to live with dignity and self-respect? others control us so easily? our decisions in life mean so little? Seems the classical liberals at ACT aren't so philosophical as I and are happy to tag themselves to populist movements. Those against crime, while often emotionally appealing and typically in response to legitimate complaints often go too far.

  9. Hmm, my impression was that a first time possession offence would not land you in prison, but repeat convictions would. Possession of class C drugs can get you three months. It would pleasantly surprise me if nobody is in prison simply for possession.

    In any case, cultivation and supply are also victimless crimes. Rape for growing and selling a few ounces is definitely not cool.

  10. I think it's important for everyone to remember that pointing out that Garrett is right sometimes (and i'm talking generally here, not even related to this particular thread) doesn't mean that person is supporting everything that Garrett says.

  11. And the threshold of possession for supply is 28 grams ~ 1 oz. Many moderately heavy users would buy in this sort of quantity for personal use.

  12. The fundamental point is Garrett while rightfully angry about serious offenders and their treatment by the criminal justice system is an authoritarian, and this post has brought out a few more. If you commit a crime, any crime, then hey you risk being raped in prison - it's not his concern if prison is an anarchic hellhole as it is part of his policy of deterrence.

    It is one thing to say prison shouldn't be comfortable - which is right, it shouldn't have TV, videos and the like. Similarly the smuggling of drugs and cellphones should be stamped upon.

    It is another to be nonchalant about prisoners being raped.

    So now we have it's ok for people to be in prison for growing cannabis for personal use, ok to be in prison for sedition, presumably also for inciting racial disharmony (three months sentence), tax evaders of course, blasphemy can have a prison term (though been a long time since used), as can consensual adults only incest, as can possession of an erotic story involving consenting adults.

    However, I guess I'm too hung up on people's rights since I've not done any of those things.

    How fucking hard would it be for ACT to, in principle, oppose victimless crimes, while at the same time recognising that some victimless crimes need to be addressed comprehensively - like drugs and healthcare. Opt out of state healthcare and enjoy drugs as you wish, until you cause harm to others.

  13. "Looks like he is as foolish as he is ill-informed. Quick as a flash, Mike obliges."

    Except he doesn't. How about updating that example of gloating inaccuracy with the truth??

    BTW, given your oft expressed scorn for both left and right, about time you asked David Farrar to remove the link to this site from his list of "right wing" blogs, or is the "principle" you're always shoving down other people's throats not so important when it comes to hits on Not PC?

  14. WTF Redbaiter, PC doesn't have control over how inaccurately DPF categorises his blog ...

  15. Update from NORML:

    "Michael, there have definitely been people who have gone to jail solely
    for cannabis, especially repeat medical "offenders" like Danuiel Clark,
    Neville Yates, plus some people I know: Brian Borland, Ken Morgan, Mike
    Finlayson... I'm not sure about anyone being inside right now though.

    This is from the 2002 Health Select Committee cannabis inquiry report
    (attached) - have a read of pages 32-35 or so...

    p32: "Of the 9,399 prosecutions for the use of cannabis, 6,761 resulted
    in convictions, and 52 custodial sentences were imposed.... The use of
    police diversion, rather than a criminal conviction, for cannabis use
    offences remains very rare."

    p34: "Police state that officers generally detect the majority of
    possession offences at the street level in association with other
    matters such as disorder and other behavioural offences, or through
    vehicle searches directly related to road safety issues. We remain
    unconvinced by this, noting that 42 percent of convictions for cannabis
    do not include other offences. These offences usually involve very small
    amounts of cannabis. In most cases, the police deal with these offences
    by way of arrest and prosecution. Of the 13,000 offences (procurement,
    possession, smoking, using cannabis) during the 2000–01 financial year,
    a total of 8,143 were dealt with by way of prosecution. Only 399 were
    dealt with by way of diversion."


    and this is from the Parliamentary Library research paper, also attached:

    Figure 1.3: Penalties imposed for cannabis convictions, 1980, 1990 and
    Source: Minister of Justice reply to Question for Written Answer no.
    12020, received 7 September 2001.

    Penalties for cannabis USE
    1980 1990 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
    custodial 48 64 54 41 51 41 52 25"

    Sorry about the delay Redbaiter, but unlike some, I actually have a life, which I was out enjoying.


    I'm looking forward to todays $100 bar tab.

  16. And while not Pot. I DO have friends who have been to jail for possession/consumption of MDMA (ecstacy).

    And lets just say their experiences weren't fun.

  17. MikeE, best go out and enjoy you're day again. You're wasting everybody's time here, including your own.

    All you need is one name, and that is of a current prisoner (that is someone who is in jail right now) who is there solely because he smoked cannabis.

    What's the name?

    PS- Luke, PC does not need any "control" you lame brained issue dodging halfwit, all he needs is to email DF and ask him to re-categorise his blog.

    I'd say its more left than right.

  18. "How fucking hard would it be for ACT to, in principle, oppose victimless crimes, while at the same time recognising that some victimless crimes need to be addressed comprehensively."

    Why doesn't the sanctimonious little weasel "Liberty Scott" shut the fuck up about what ACT should do and just get the Libertarianz into parliament on Libertarian policy.

    Show us how its done loser.

    And he still owes Mike $100.

    Not until Mike provides that name. Mr. Garret is trying to make the point that if you're just some otherwise normal pot smoking mainstream law abiding NZers, it is almost impossible to get arrested for smoking pot. This is a fair point.

    To win his $100, MikeE needs to supply the name of such a person who is in jail right now. That's all. Until he can do that, he has not won anything, and claims to be owed $100 by Mr. Garret right now are premature and false.

    Not that one would expect any objective judgment on the issue to be displayed on this site.

  19. Redbaiter,

    I've done my bit. For the first half of the day I plan to be actually working. And the 2nd half (which I'm on leave for) I'll be volunteering for the ACT AGM like I do all the time.

    What exactly have you done for ACT lateley?

  20. If you can't supply the required name, just be fair about it and stop claiming you have earned the $100.

  21. Gee. Here's another one. Donald Duck.

    Where is your proof that this name meets the criteria, your validation that the offender is an otherwise ordinary law abiding citizen and he was jailed "solely" for smoking pot?

    The fact that such validation was not provided voluntarily leads me to suspect some inaccuracy might be afoot here.

  22. BTW, all of this is really just so much off the topic bullshit, and just so typcial of the Liberqueerians compulsion to navel gaze.

    The bottom line is this- do you support prisoners doubling up in cells or not. Yes of no??

    Its not about cannabis use, or male rape, or violent crimes. For christ's sake, these kind of diversions and this kind of weak divisive witterings are just so typical of the left.

    Write to DPF and get him to change your classification.

  23. The issue, Rodbeater, is your Mr Garrett's notion that “we've got too hung up on people's rights."

    The immediate effect of that is his (and your) total disinterest in who in fact is being locked up -- whether they actually are violent criminals, whose rights are limited by the crimes they've actually committed and the victims whose rights they've taken away; or they're just people who have not produced any victims at all but have simply been deemed criminals by the state, people such as pot smokers, tax evaders, ecstasy users, traffic offenders, or people who cut down their own trees (to name people recently locked up for victimless 'crimes'); or else they're only in prison on remand, which means that in the eyes of the law they're still innocent.

    Mr Garrett wishes to tar all these people with the same brush.

    That is the issue.

    Now I understand that might be too complex for you to grasp, which is just another reason why, sir, you are not fit to participate in adult discussion.

    You yourself, you see, are the off-topic bullshit you talk about, since you're unable to grasp even basic logic, such as the fact that other blogs are not mine -- a simple enough proposition, one would have thought, even for you.

    Which is just one reason you've been told some time ago (and again each time you've returned here) that you're not welcome here.

    Get it: You are not welcome here. You have never been welcome here. If you wish to pollute comment threads, then please go pollute someone else's -- just as you've been asked before.

    Or else start your own blog so you can see just how popular your drivel really is.

    Your right to free speech does not require that I grant you a microphone.

    FWIW however, I will grant you one more reply here to see if you really do have a point, so make it good -- and thereafter everything else of yours I see here at NOT PC will be deleted. Just as I said it would be the last time you were told you were unwelcome.

  24. OK, seeing I'm being most generously granted one last post, I will try and make it on the broadest points-

    1) the Libertarians are a left wing group because among other things, they share the same aversion for strong and passionate disagreement as any totalitarian commie, and attempt to portray such disagreement as socially unacceptable. Your last post provides enough evidence of the correctness of this assertion for any rational person.

    You can influence where Mr. Farrar links to you. Write to Mr. Farrar and ask him to downgrade you to a leftist site or at least moderate site. Why do you want to be listed as right wing when you constantly wage war on us?

    2) I do not ask for a microphone. You have the microphone. The purpose of blogs is to attract comment. You don't want me to comment here because my posts puncture your sanctimonious self righteous self image. End of story.

    BTW, I have argued this point on Not PC merely because I feel Mr. Garret is out numbered and being unfairly smeared. Don't think I feel good about posting here.

    3)I have constantly referred to Libertarians as navel gazing and ineffective politically, and this point is demonstrated in the way you have seized on what are really peripheral matters here, and why I have requested a response to the main question. Do you support double bunking in prisons? Yes or no?

    4) I refuse to respond to your assertions regarding what Mr. Garret may have meant or said. You play this trick with myself, and constantly raise straw men to attempt to justify some unwarranted attack.

    Don't tell me what Mr. Garret thinks or says, especially in an out of context and selective manner. I will make my own assessment of what he means, and I do not need it filtered by the likes of you to suit your own wittering self righteous political posture.

    5) "thereafter everything else of yours I see here at NOT PC will be deleted."

    Yes of course. Y'know I disagree strongly with the guys at the Standard, but they haven't banned me. They make no false analogies about microphones.

    Liberals.. pffft, what self serving bullshit. Pseudo liberals is what you are, like most on the left. You constantly attack and smear the right. Write to DPF and get him to change your listing, or are you completely shameless in your hypocrisy?

  25. Donald Duck isn't a good example. He was arrested mostly for walking around without pants all the time. And for spitting on people when he talks.

  26. BTW, here's one to delete. I'll bet you now allow all of your sycophantic cronies to appear on here and attack and smear me. They'll be especially enthusiastic in the knowledge I have no right of reply.

  27. Neville Yates was jailed for possession (cultivating for his own use). He was 'narced' on by a paid informer. It was his ninth conviction (proving if nothing else he had convictions). His defence, that cannabis was safer than his medical alternatives was voided by the Judge. The Judge 'politicised' that which was non-political. He sentenced Neville to 60% increase in his sentence (3 -> 5 months) purportedly for allowing the use of the court as a forum the pro cannabis agenda (also reported by the PRESS during the case, but no evidence was presented that supported the Judges view).

    Politics never came into it... until his Member of Parliament, appeared in his defence (how often has that ever happened). He had two senior doctors, one an expert in Sativex modality, a professor of pain and the surgeon who removed his leg standing by. If drug policy is about 'health' and best practice, do not expect to see it in a court of law. It was Neville's second visit to jail for the same offence of self supply. (home detention was not possible as that was the scene of the crime)

    The question for ACT and anyone else is 'and did it stop him smoking pot?, if not what purpose did it serve? what were the unintended consequences and who benefits?.'

    Another friend was sentenced to 18 months for 'not being in possesion' and was raped, twice. Nothing was ever the same again.

    I too have been 'fined' under duress of 'Class B' much longer jailable offence category for possessing cannabis that I had no knowledge of. Plea bargains make for easy convictions. Rightly or wrongly, Police use the 'serious offence' with heavy duty jail time as leverage to 'get their man, expiditiously'. Jail terms, even when not served, when used as duress are profoundly destabilising of justice and cloud the truth. I have meet Mr Garret on the hustings and for a trained lawyer, I would have difficulty in distinguishing his skills and knowledge around drug issues to that of a trained seal, willing to say and do anything to get his next feed.

    Prohibition and all that it represents is contrary to the principles of the Association of Citizens and Taxpayers. And that says very little for Mr Garret or ACT.

  28. Would you be able to provide more information regarding your friend (obviously anonymously)...

  29. Having met David Garrett today at the Act agm I find most of the critisim of him unfounded and based on media contrived bullshit.He was quite open in saying he wasn't that up to speed on the finer points of Classic Liberalism but he is no authoritarian either.I loaned him a copy of "The Liberal Tide as well as other material including some by PC and Lindsay Perigo...he was very appreciative and seemed very willing to learn more.He was concerned about the impression that was being formed of him and acknowledged that his shot from the lip manner had made it easy for certain lefty journo's to paint him in a negative way.

    I questioned him about various issues and he explained himself quite well and revealed that he has been badly misquoted by the media on some of them which I see has influenced opinions here and eleswhere.He is a humourous fellow and has been caught out by journo's taking his throw away lines and printing them as his opinion....saying more about them than him.The journos motives seem to be to paint Garrett as a loose unit ....a lie which I think too many "on the right" have bought hook line and sinker.

    I think after a bit of time and Liberal input David will be a great asset to ACT and Liberalism in NZ.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.