Lawyer aghast that West Australian criminals remain imprisoned
With a nasty spring cold making me even grumpier than usual I've decided to cheer myself up by flaying the inanities of blogging barrister Jeremy Sear, who continually writes about the raw deals accorded criminals by the justice system. Sear's latest whinge concerns parole in Western Australia, where a decrease in parolee numbers is contributing to a growing prison population:
This is what happens when the community lets itself, and consequently its representatives, be led by the nose by the “laura norder” charlatans. And it’s a perfectly self-perpetuating system: the more they take these counter-productive and expensive “lock ‘em all up” approaches that don’t address the causes of crime, the problem gets worse, which in turn is seen as a reason to get even tougher, which makes the problem worse, and so on.
Sear's main concern is the termination of face-to-face parole hearing interviews, a change supposedly wrought by 2009 Labor board chair apointee Narelle Johnson:
I wonder what kind of shrinking violets they have on that board, making those very serious decisions with which they apparently don’t feel comfortable. In courts around the country, every day, Judicial officers make decisions about offenders’ freedom, and they do it face to face. They have reasons for their decisions, they give them, and they are prepared to stand by them.
What kind of Parole Board is too gutless to give its decisions straight to the people affected?
Those familiar with Sear's writing won't be surprised that he's not totally honest in making his case: face-to-face interviews were terminated prior to Johnson becoming chair of the board and she has simply refused to revive the process:
Now in relation to the applications for parole, I'm informed by my staff that there was only ever a trial period of video link-ups for applications for parole, and that was at Casuarina. And that was in fact stopped prior to my appointment. But in any event, from the files that I dealt with at the board in the months after my arrival, I was very concerned about the quality of decisions made when the offender was there present at the time.
Barrister Sear also whines about paroled offenders being sent back to prison:
Apart from establishing a bureaucratic “we’ll decide without you present” system for assessing parole applications, Justice Johnson has also implemented changes such that parolees committing minor offences for which they would not previously have been breached, are now sent right back to prison.
This, of course, ignores that reoffending is a problem Australia-wide:
At least half of prisoners in all states and territories had a prior adult imprisonment under sentence.
Barrister Sear should concentrate his extraordinary lawyerly talents on keeping accused offenders out of prison rather than whining about their treatment post-conviction.