Working paper

A tale of two risks: risk assessments and treatment of two dangerous long-term New Zealand detainees

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Prison sentences Prisoners Sentencing Intellectual disability New Zealand

This paper compares two cases of long-term detention on the basis of claimed risks to public safety in New Zealand, a common law jurisdiction. The first is that of an intellectually disabled autistic offender, who remains in detention after 14 years after breaking three windows. The second is that of a murderer/rapist, sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole, but who remains in detention after 26 years.

The paper considers whether either of them or both are reliably or adequately shown to be dangerous, given difficulties in risk prediction; whether detention for such lengthy terms can be classified as detentions of no hope, leading to a human rights breach such as disproportionately severe treatment and/or lack of dignity; and the applicability of these analyses as they apply to the wider population of the indeterminately detained.


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