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.
While civil society is grating the government licence to use extraordinary powers during a medical emergency, that is no excuse to abuse people’s trust by bringing in draconian measures like over-the-top surveillance and elimination of the flimsy privacy rights we still retain, CLA says.
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?
For all those politicians (and the media) who posture at being “tough on crime” and who bring in mandatory sentences to appear to be “smart” legislators telling magistrates and judges how to make decisions and pass sentences, hear this plea from a real live criminal lawyer dealing with the consequences of such irresponsible political action in the Northern Territory…
Some academics are warning that surveillance systems mushrooming in Australia’s major cities are more than just police aids to fight crime: they are actually community management mechanisms designed to re-exert a form of colonial era control. Here’s what they say about new systems in Darwin and the NT.
New Zealand has maybe shown the way to Australia with a formal, parliamentary apology bill tabled to right the wrongs committed against a Maori activist 100 years ago. With more than 230 years of mistreatment of Indigenous people in Australia, such bills could keep out parliament busy for decades.
At last! A federal MP is taking Australia’s horrific rate of jailing people, particularly Indigenous citizens, seriously. Dr Andrew Leigh, the Member for Fenner (ACT) has produced a detailed rundown that shows we are becoming among the greatest jailers. For example, we now jail Indigenous Australians at a rate greater than the USA jails African-Americans. Read a summary of Leigh’s paper, with a link to the original.
Australia’s first birth was premature. We held a big party, but didn’t invite the people who should have been first on the list. Now, as we debate which day to celebrate our anniversary, we have a chance for a re-birthing Constitution that will create a new Australia with everyone sharing equally. Then we can all come to the party on Australia Day, the day we formally pass the new, foundational law. Christian J. Bennett writes.