PRISONERS serving life sentences will never be housed in minimum security under changes to be introduced by the State Government. The decision has come on the recommendation of an upper house inquiry into security classification and management of prisoners which followed revelations last year that Andrew Garforth, who killed nine-year-old Ebony Simpson in 1992, had been downgraded on the advice of the Serious Offenders Review Council. Corrective Services Minister David Elliott reversed the decision at the time and yesterday said he would implement the committee’s recommendation. Garforth, 52, was jailed for life “never to be released” for the murder of Ebony at Bargo after he abducted her as she walked home before raping and killing her. Mr Elliott is now pledging to create a “separate classification for inmates ... sentenced to life imprisonment’’. “Inmates serving life sentences will never be allowed to progress to a minimum security environment,” he said.
At some point during the past decade, West Australians stopped paying their court fines and started going to prison in record numbers to clear their debts. Now the Barnett government has begun to make good on its promise to steer thousands of fine defaulters away from prisons and police cells and into community service, in line with other states. The status quo in WA is certainly a quick way to for a person with hefty fines to clear the slate — a unique formula devised by the previous WA Labor government lets defaulters cut out their biggest fine at $250 per day in jail, while any other fines they have are deemed to have been served concurrently. For example, last year a Perth woman who accrued $32,850 in fines for 33 offences including assault, stealing and breaches of bail was able to clear the debt by serving 12 days in jail. The scheme was designed to allow sentenced prisoners — many with years of accumulated fines — to leave jail debt-free and with the best chance of starting anew. Instead, it created a perverse incentive for people who were not in jail to go there. Magistrates generally do not like it, because they have specifically issued a fine where they believed jail was not deserved. It is also an impost on the taxpayer, since it costs around $350 a day to keep a prisoner. Labor claims an explosion in the number of people entering prison to wipe fines in WA coincided with the Barnett government cracking down hard on people working off their fines. In short, Labor alleges, it was easy to breach the terms of a work order and get sent to jails. By 2014, one in seven adults entering a WA prison was there solely for the purpose of cutting out a fine. Women in particular began flooding into the state’s jails to clear debts — one in three new arrivals at female prisons in WA was there for no other reason but fine default in 2013. Aboriginal people were already grossly over-represented in WA prisons but the policy created even more indigenous prisoners. Between 2010 and 2014, one in six indigenous people who went to jail in WA did so to clear a fine, according to a discussion paper tabled in state parliament by Labor MP Paul Papalia. The Barnett government is giving magistrates more options when dealing with low-level offenders, including offering rehabilitation and community service instead of a fine at the time of sentencing. State Attorney-General Michael Mischin last night began reading the Sentencing Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 into parliament, saying the amendments were part of the Liberal National Government’s commitment to divert low-level first time offenders away from sentences that could lead to incarceration. “The concern is that in many cases, this creates a cycle of offending and convictions, where an inability or unwillingness to pay the fines leads to entry into the fines enforcement system and potentially imprisonment,” he said. “While legislation applies to everyone equally, one of the key aims of this amendment is to reduce the incarceration of Aboriginal people for the non-payment of fines for low level offences which don’t warrant imprisonment.” In WA, about 40 per cent of the adult prison population is Aboriginal. Mr Mischin said courts can still impose a fine on an offender, but then immediately offer the offender attendance at a rehabilitation program or unpaid community work in lieu of paying the fine. “As this measure will be a direct alternative to a fine, the involvement of the offender in any programs or work will be by agreement and therefore voluntary,” he said. “It is hoped that some of the more than 5000 volunteer organisations, not-for-profit community organisations and local governments across the state will become involved in the scheme.” The changes are a direct response to the 2014 death in custody of a 22-year-old Aboriginal woman who was paying off a $1000 fine in a Pilbara watch-house. Known for cultural reasons as Miss Dhu, she had accumulated fines as a minor and an adult for low level-offences including refusing to give her name to a police officer. Her inquest heard she died from an infection that nobody knew she had, after repeatedly begging to be hospitalised. In the months after her death, Premier Colin Barnett met Miss Dhu’s family and promised to make changes to keep minor offenders out of lockups.
In an attempt to break the generational cycle of domestic violence, a new initiative involving boys and their mums is being trialled in Brisbane. The world-first program aims to stop domestic violence when it first appears: in boyhood.
At a time when media attention is quite rightly focused on ending family violence, Aboriginal women and girls still face unacceptably high levels of assault, homicide and intimidation. Australia needs to specifically address Indigenous women and children's difficulties in accessing justice in this country.
Sharing your scoops to your social media accounts is a must to distribute your curated content. Not only will it drive traffic and leads through your content, but it will help show your expertise with your followers.
How to integrate my topics' content to my website?
Integrating your curated content to your website or blog will allow you to increase your website visitors’ engagement, boost SEO and acquire new visitors. By redirecting your social media traffic to your website, Scoop.it will also help you generate more qualified traffic and leads from your curation work.
Distributing your curated content through a newsletter is a great way to nurture and engage your email subscribers will developing your traffic and visibility.
Creating engaging newsletters with your curated content is really easy.