US Criminal Justice Reform A Lesson For Us

ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE AUSTRALIAN

US President Donald Trump’s endorsement of criminal justice reform is a landmark for conser­vatives. After campaigning as the “law and order candidate”, Trump has been won over by the argument that government can reduce the growth of incarceration, boost rehabilitation and save money in the long term.

Trump’s support for the new approach cements its position as the new conservative orthodoxy. How this came to be so is something the Australian Centre-Right needs to study carefully.

Last week, Trump held a celebration for the passage of the First Step Act, which he signed into law in December. The act creates incentives for federal prisoners to participate in vocational education, repeals mandatory sen­tences for drug crimes and restores some judicial discretion for other nonviolent crimes.

Or as Trump explained: “Nonviolent offenders will have the oppor­tunity to participate in vocational training, education and drug treatment programs. When they get out of prison they will be ready to get a job instead of turning back to a life of crime.”

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Labor’s Electric Car Plan Won’t Help Ordinary Australians

ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

What do Bill Shorten and Mike from Married At First Sight have in common?

They are both gaslighting the entire nation.

Gaslighting is when someone tells you a story so contradictory of known facts that you come to doubt your sense of reality.

Mike has become notorious for trying to confuse his television bride Heidi by blatantly denying that he has said or done things that have been witnessed by millions of viewers.

Now comes Shorten as a new contender for gaslighter-in-chief, spinning a wild tale of all the riches we stand to gain from the government forcing us all into electric cars—despite us having every reason to believe the proposal would cripple the economy, make us all poorer, and achieve absolutely nothing

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Queensland’s Rising Incarceration Rate Calls For Criminal Justice Overhaul

ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN COURIER MAIL

Queenslanders are facing a massive increase in criminal justice costs but without any promise the spending will lead to safer communities.

This is the key finding of a new Queensland Productivity Commission report on incarceration and reoffending.

The report shows a radical rise in the number of Queenslanders going to prison. The incarceration rate, meaning the proportion of adults who are in prison, has risen 44 per cent since 2012.

There are more than 9000 offenders in Queensland prisons, which are at 130 per cent capacity.

On average, each prisoner costs state taxpayers $107,000 per year. This works out to about $900 million each year for incarceration. What’s more, the report estimates that taxpayers are on the hook for up to $6.5 billion in new prison construction. That sort of money can buy a lot of schools and roads. Or hire more police.

Of course, by themselves these numbers do not tell the whole story. If every extra dollar makes us safer, then these are dollars well-spent.

But there is growing evidence that prison does not always increase community safety.

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Give victims the right to appeal soft sentences

This article originally appeared in the Herald-Sun on 30 October 2018.

Earlier this year, two women were convicted of assaulting a paramedic but avoided prison after a judge found there were special circumstances justifying a more lenient punishment. The Victorian public were outraged.

Although the Government tightened the laws around offences against emergency services workers, the public’s confidence in the courts had already been shaken. This is a problem because Australians have consistently reported low confidence in the courts, especially their protection of victims’ interests.

Any one of us could be a victim of crime, and if that happens, we need to know that the standards applied by the courts will be in line with our community values. We need to trust that the courts have the same idea of justice that we have.

To hold judges to this expectation, when a sentence for a serious crime is unjustly lenient, victims should be able to direct the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to seek leave to appeal the sentence.

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