As Iran releases 100,000 prisoners, Australian jails are still packed with the potential for major COVID-19 spread into the community, Paul Gregoire writes for Sydney Criminal Lawyers. And, as usual, Indigenous prisoners are relatively most at risk because of their large numbers and poor health. The WHO and UN have warned Australia about the potential for jails to spread the pandemic. ‘Prison health is a matter of public health’.
The NT is planning to introduce a Judicial Commission to deal with the problem of judges bullying lawyers. A parliamentary committee is considering submissions – but none of the submissions, other than that from CLA – proposes having truly independent people on the commission and its investigatory panels…or even mandatory Indigenous representationl. Changes to the current bill are vital if justice is to be seen to be done, and to be done, to lawyers and their clients in the NT, CLA says.
Other nations are already showing Australia the way on how to mass deaths in prisons: they are letting lower-range and particular prisoners free, at least for the duration of the world health emergency. It’s time the Australian states and territories did something similar…and took the opportunity to remove from prison some people who probably should not be there, CLA says.
Children’s brains have not formed until well into their teenage years, so they are not mature enough to acquire the intent for full criminal responsibility under the age 16, CLA argues in its submission to the national working group preparing advice for all Attorneys-General on the age of criminal responsibility. CLA also believes that no child under 16 should be detained in a jail-like setting, and mandatory sentencing should be abandoned by all jurisdictions for children under 16.
The Queensland Productivity Commission has delivered its seminal report on the state of jails in that state but in reality standing for all Australian jails. Their recommendations provide a blueprint for saving taxpayers money, ending a massive jail-building program over the next decade, and seriously reducing the number of people in prison. Will our fearful governments have the courage to take positive action to achieve a better system delivering better justice?