Changes could reduce reoffending for low-risk criminals

This article originally appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 16 May 2017.

The NSW government continues to lead the way on innovative criminal justice policy. Having last year committed $3.8 billion to new and improved prisons, the government is now pivoting to reforms designed to reduce the need for further prison spending over the longer-term, by lowering reoffending and improving community safety.

The government last week announced a package of reforms, including the abolition of suspended sentences and a new procedure for managing offenders released on parole. While prison is absolutely necessary for violent criminals, these reforms acknowledge that for those criminals we do release into the community, we need more options for managing their behaviour.

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Locking Down Crime

This article originally appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 28 April 2017.

Community safety is the highest priority of the criminal justice system and the NSW government can be proud of the latest batch of crime statistics.

Robbery and theft have declined 13 per cent from the last quarter of 2016.Other serious crimes such as murder and assault are stable. This stands in stark contrast to Victoria where serious crime is skyrocketing, up 20 percent over the past two years.

When it comes to reducing crime in Australia, NSW is leading the way. Building on this success, the government now has the opportunity to launch a wide-ranging criminal justice reform program.

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Criminal Justice Reform Does Not Start In Jails

This piece originally appeared in the West Australian on 7 April 2017.

The new WA Government has said that it cannot afford to build a new $600 million prison planned by the previous government.

But this cost cannot be avoided simply by letting people out of prison. Criminal justice reform must always be about maximising community safety. Continue reading

Four Year Terms Are A Bad Idea

This piece originally appeared on the Spectator Australia website on 24 February 2017. It was co-authored with Daniel Wild of the Institute of Public Affairs.

The election of Donald Trump, the vote for Brexit, and the return of One Nation have all threatened the centre-right status quo, while on the left, throwback leaders like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn have emerged. All of these movements share one key belief: that government no longer represents the people.

It would seem a bizarre time, then, to propose reducing the frequency of elections with the explicit aim of freeing those same unrepresentative politicians from scrutiny so they can “get more done”. But this is exactly what Liberal MP David Coleman proposes. Continue reading

Criminal Justice Can Never Be An Arm Of The Welfare State

This piece originally appeared in The Australian on 17 February 2017.

Crime is caused by people who decide to commit crimes. It is not caused by society. The criminal justice system exists to punish criminals and protect the community, not to fix societal ills.

This is a very simple principle. But it bears restating because it seems to have eluded Rob Hulls in his commentary, published in these pages last week, on our criminal justice report. Continue reading