Queensland Law Society

AG proposal to cost millions and potentially increase crime

Date 31 Jul 2013
Contact Natalie Graeff, Manager Corporate Communication
Phone 07 3842 5868
Mobile 0488 433 884
Fax 07 3221 9329
Email n.graeff@qls.com.au

Queensland Law Society today revealed proposed changes to sentencing and parole raised by the Attorney-General would considerably increase corrective services costs and could increase crime.

President Annette Bradfield said these were the predicted outcomes of removing court-ordered parole and suspended jail sentences based on economic facts and research results.

“The average daily prison population in Queensland is 5650, costing more than $420 million a year.” Ms Bradfield said.

“When New Zealand abolished suspended sentences in 2002 their prison population increased by 23% in the first two years.

“Should the same happen here, we would see costs blow out to close to $520 million.

“Certainly the impression we get from the government is they’ve had to make a number of difficult decisions in this year’s budget, so making decisions which will have such dramatic financial impact should be handled cautiously.

“In addition, a 2009 New South Wales study compared suspended sentences to prison sentences and found no evidence of prison being the greater deterrent and that, for those who had already been to prison, suspended sentences were more effective for preventing reoffending.

“So abolishing suspended sentencing would be counter to reducing repeat offenders and could push the crime rate up.

“Such an outcome is likely considering the Attorney-General is limiting the opportunities for supervision after release from prison.

“We understand concerns at people apparently ‘thumbing their noses’ at the law.

“However, we would recommend investigating potential outcomes of major changes to the law before making decisions based on anecdotal evidence.

“We support judicial discretion in all sentencing matters as the court has full knowledge of the circumstances of each case, and court-ordered parole and suspended sentences are effective, discretionary sentencing tools.