CPSU in the news
New state government’s justice policy attracts more criticism, with prison union claiming it could lead to industrial action
ABC, April 5.
THE prison union is warning the new Tasmanian government its plan to scrap suspended sentences could lead to industrial action.
The Liberal plan has already been criticised by a former Supreme Court judge.
Pierre Slicer, who served as a judge for nearly 20 years, has warned the government the plan could be costly and result in fewer offenders being rehabilitated.
He says suspended sentences are an effective rehabilitation tool because offenders know if they appear in court again, they will go to jail.
“I always thought it was the last weapon one had to try and keep them aware of the seriousness and yet not actually destroy the person by imprisonment,” he said.
Mr Slicer also warns the move would be costly because the annual bill for each prisoner is $120,000.
Each year, about 150 criminals get wholly suspended sentences.
Civil Liberties Australia estimates if 70 per cent of the offenders currently given suspended sentences in Tasmania are sent to jail for the full term, it will cost the government $20 million per year.
But that claim is disputed by Tasmania’s Treasurer Peter Gutwein.
“Well we believe that we can achieve this policy from existing resources, we’ve made that perfectly clear,” he said.
Tom Lynch from the Public Sector Union says the Treasurer is wrong and claims it is a naive policy.
“They need to put in place more correctional officers and they need to invest in greater infrastructure in their prison system,” he said.
“We have a prison system that is already full,” Mr Lynch said.
The Treasurer hopes axing suspended sentences will deter criminals.
“Now we hope that that sends a message and that we see less people before our courts,” Mr Gutwein said.
The union says the model has already failed in Victoria.
It is putting the state government on notice.
“They need to be aware that if that results in more people being put in the prison system in Tasmania and that results in overcrowding that we will take action,” Mr Lynch said.
The Attorney-General has refused a request to be interviewed.
But Vanessa Goodwin has agreed to be part of a debate later this month, where the Law Society hopes to change her mind.