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August 12, 2013

More Mandatory Sentencing from LNP Government

by dankrogers

Last Tuesday, the LNP Government passed laws which, in effect, mean that all persons convicted of drug trafficking, must serve 80% of their head sentence. In reality, this will mean a period of actual custody of at least 2 years if a person is given a sentence with a parole relase date.

For my response, see Triple J’s podcast from last Wednesday, 7 July.

All trafficking is serious. However, what the AG does not realise is that this law will catch the big guys as well as the low level street dealers including young kids selling a few pills to their mates before a festival.

The Attorney argues that the current system is failing in that too many people released on suspended sentences or immediate parole are reoffending and therefore, sentences imposed by the Courts are not acting as sufficient deterrents.

This move by the Attorney-General only underscores his lack of knowledge over the Queensland Criminal Justice system. Rehabilitaion is the best way to reduce re-offedning. Offenders and the community beenfit from people being place don long periods of parole instead of sitting in a jail cell. For a person released on Court ordered parole, they are subject to very strict parole conditions which, if breached in any way, result in the person’s immediate return to prison without passing a Court. He ignores the fact that existing parole conditions are onerous including requirements that a parolee must see their parole officer regularly, receive visits at their home, submit to drug urine analysis, not leave the State of Queensland, engage in counselling, not commit a further offence and comply with all reasonable directions of a parole officer. If they breach any of these conditions in any way they are immediately returned to a prison for a minimum of 28 days and usually much more.

The existing parole framework and the strict requirements for parole ensure that a person is well supervised, personally deterred from committing further offences and importantly, gives people the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves in the community. There are already sufficient safeguards in place to ensure recidivist offending is met with harsh realities which include the immediate return to prison. This is most beneficial to the community. In a similar way, a suspended sentence is breached upon a person committing any offence punishable by imprisonment. This would include minor offences such as public nuisance and drink driving.

The problem with the new 80% rule is that inmates, particularly young people who deserve an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves, spend unnecessarily long periods of time in custody for no good reason and at huge taxpayer expense.

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