A FORMER senior local cop has called for a tough new three strikes policy to stem the tide of repeat offenders "holding the city to ransom".
It comes as police confirm the eight people charged in connection with the December-January break and enter spree in Griffith were all either repeat offenders, on parole or on bail.
Retired police sergeant John Curran, who served for 35 years 13 of them in Griffith said the only way to combat the court "revolving door" was through harsher penalties.
"It got to the point that I was locking the same people up constantly and you just wonder why you bother being a police officer," Mr Curran said.
"You'd see them on the street again doing the same thing the next day; it was just like bashing your head up against a brick wall.
"We have to start getting the balance right and I really believe there should be a three strikes policy. If someone is caught doing a break and enter or another offence three times, they should be locked up, even for just a short amount of time.
"People say they come out of jail worse, but there has to be a deterrent."
Mr Curran slammed the Young Offenders Act, saying it was a "toothless tiger" for teens over the age of 15.
"Some of the 15 and 16 year olds are bigger than me and of
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course they know what they're doing," Mr Curran said.
"They know they can get away with it and so they do. It's got to the point where offenders are looked after better than victims."
A 2006 study of 2793 NSW prisoners released on parole showed 64 per cent re-offended within two years of release.
Griffith solicitor David Davidge, who has represented hundreds of recidivist offenders in the local and district court, said striking a balance between rehabilitation and punishment presented a complex matrix.
"In the first instance, it should be rehabilitation before punishment but there comes a point where the justice system does come crashing down on recidivist offenders," Mr Davidge said.
"A lot of it (talk about courts being too soft) is just perception. Crime is always more visible in a small community.
"But I think courts do as well as they can. You can talk about having a three strikes policy but there were cases when they introduced it in the Northern Territory where kids were getting locked up for stealing a packet of Iced Vo-Vos.
"They are then in contact with more experienced criminals and by the time that's happened, you've missed your opportunity."
He said diversionary programs to address the root cause of an offender's behaviour were most effective but came at a financial cost.
Murrumbidgee MP Adrian Piccoli said it was critical the courts were in step with community expectations.
"We have to send a strong message to offenders in the early part of their criminal cycle; it's too late if we just give them endless warnings," Mr Piccoli said.
"They know how far they can push it and if offenders are saying it's an issue locally, I'll always back the police.
"It's not in our interest to put children in jail for their first offence but certainly it seems a lot of kids know how to get around the system."