Just Reinvest NSW launched the first of its policy papers, Key Proposals #1 – Smarter Sentencing and Parole Law Reform at NSW Parliament House on the 10th of August.
The paper details key proposals to reduce the rising prison population in NSW, with a particular view to addressing the level of Aboriginal overrepresentation, which has risen by 40% over the last decade.
The launch of the paper was hosted by the NSW Attorney General, the Honourable Mark Speakman SC MP. The Attorney General, the Shadow Attorney General, Mr Paul Lynch and Greens Member Mr David Shoebridge all spoke in support of a justice reinvestment approach and about the importance of a cross-party response to reducing the over representation of Aboriginal people in NSW prisons.
Prof Tom Calma AO, grandfather and long standing champion of justice reinvestment spoke as to why justice reinvestment is so necessary for New South Wales, and Australia in general.
“We have seen, right around the country, what happens when you take a heavy handed approach to crime, it doesn’t work, it doesn’t make the community safer. Justice reinvestment is a community based approach, to make communities safer and stronger.”
Keenan Mundine brought that message home sharing with the attendees some of his personal story with the prison system and the importance of early intervention and therapeutic models in responding to offending.
In focusing on the need for properly resourced diversionary options, Sarah Hopkins, the Chair of Just Reinvest NSW said: ‘What happens on the ground, particularly in regional and remote communities, is that alternatives to custody that the courts can have confidence in are just not there. What is available, what is always available, is prison.’
The proposals for reform in this policy paper are part of a broader range of proposed measures, each of which is targeted to support the following key objectives:
- reducing crime to create safe communities;
- ending post-code justice; and
- identifying a smarter way to spend the $3.8 billion the NSW Government plans to spend over the next four years to increase prison capacity by 7,000 prison beds.
The proposals comprise part of an overall justice reinvestment strategy through which resulting savings would be reinvested into supporting community driven strategies to reduce crime.
“Overall, there is a need to ensure Government’s reforms are released through a Justice Reinvestment framework, where savings made due to downward pressure on the prison population are tracked and reinvested into community based options and solutions,” said the Law Society of NSW President Pauline Wright, a contributor to the Policy Paper.
The Policy Paper can be accessed here: Just Reinvest NSW Policy Paper – Key Proposals #1.
Additional Information on the first three proposals can be found in the below briefing papers:
The Policy Paper
The paper was developed following a roundtable discussion in November 2016, with representatives from the Law Society of NSW, the NSW Bar Association, the Law Council of Australia, the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT, Legal Aid NSW, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, the University of NSW, the University of Technology Sydney, the Public Defenders office, and other prominent members of the NSW legal community. It has been the subject of consultation with peak NSW Aboriginal organisations and other key organisations and agencies.
This first paper focuses on the need for smarter sentencing and parole law reform, and in some key areas aligns with the NSW Criminal Justice Reform package announcement.
Of critical importance is the need to ensure the availability and expand the scope of community-based sentencing alternatives that address the underlying causes of crime – particularly in regional and remote areas.
In addition to the expansion of community based sentencing options, the Just Reinvest policy paper details the importance of changes to the parole regime and the need to reduce the imposition of sentences of six months or less, by encouraging greater use of non-custodial alternatives.
Justice reinvestment: is a place based, data-driven approach to justice that builds stronger communities by redirecting money that would be spent on prisons into early intervention, crime prevention and diversion.
For more information on the policy paper see: http://justreinvest.org.au/policy-paper-key-proposals-1/
10th of August 2016