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Modernising of the Criminal Law - challenges for the future. Victorian Legal Aid Conference, Criminal Law in the 21 st Century Olympic Room, Melbourne.

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Presentation on theme: "Modernising of the Criminal Law - challenges for the future. Victorian Legal Aid Conference, Criminal Law in the 21 st Century Olympic Room, Melbourne."— Presentation transcript:

1 Modernising of the Criminal Law - challenges for the future. Victorian Legal Aid Conference, Criminal Law in the 21 st Century Olympic Room, Melbourne Cricket Ground Adjunct Professor Peter Norden AO Friday 12 th October 2012

2 Dedication to Father John Brosnan MBE Pentridge Prison Chaplain Learning from the past, so as to help shape a more just future……

3 The Reform of the Criminal Justice System in Australia… Building on the John Barry Memorial Lecture, November 2010 “The role of social activism in criminal justice reform” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology 44(1)

4 The Role of Advocacy in criminal justice reform Rape in J Division Dormitory in March 1976 Legislative change in age jurisdiction of the criminal courts in Victoria

5 Police use of “deadly force” in Victoria in early 1990’s. Project Beacon and new emphasis on the protection of human life… Q. Police high speed pursuit policy…..? How to make public authorities including police, courts, corrections and prisons accountable to the wider community?

6 Jika Jika High Security Unit…1980’s Humane Containment? H-Division physical brutality, to… the bureacratisation of social control Tamar Unit, Risdon Prison, Tasmania, Adrian Alwyn Pickett v The State of Tasmania Pro Bono Case undertaken by Freehills….

7 Pentridge Prison Unlocked, 1996 …..350,000 visitors on tour. Major attempt at public education Rapid expansion of the instrumentalities of the criminal justice system in Australia, Including the rapid growth of the national prison population in last 20 years.

8 Incarceration of the poor and disadvantaged … not just the indigenous communities of Australia. Research of Professor Tony Vinson Emeritus Prof, Sydney University Inaugural Director of NSW Bureau of Crime and Statistics, 1970’s Former Commissioner for Corrective Services, NSW, late 1970’s

9 RMIT University©2011 Information Technology Services 9 CAR Main Points Positive impact of social cohesion Strong correlations between social disadvantage factors Poverty concentrated and entrenched in certain areas Measures disadvantage by postcode area in Vic and New South Wales

10 RMIT University©2011 Information Technology Services 10 A report commissioned by Jesuit Social Services and Catholic Social Services Australia

11 RMIT University©2011 Information Technology Services 11 DISADVANTAGE FACTOR CORRELATIONS: VICTORIA: CRIME.601Low job skills.535Job Qualifications.633Disability Pensions.544Year 12 Incomplete.534Low income

12 RMIT University©2011 Information Technology Services 12 DISADVANTAGE FACTOR CORRELATIONS: VICTORIA: IMPRISONMENT.466Low job skills.444Low pre-school attendance.411Unemployment.379Year 12 Incomplete.506Low taxable income.527 Child mistreatment.661Public rental housing

13 Call for a reform of the Australian Criminal Justice System. Senator Jim Webb, U.S. 2009, National Criminal Justice Commission The United States: 5% of the world’s population 25% of the world’s prison population

14 The use of the criminal justice system to deal with social disadvantage, mental illness and addiction must be halted. Major concerns here in Victoria: Sentencing reforms, limiting judicial discretion Post sentence detention (Patrick Keyzer’s paper) Armed guards on metropolitan railway stations

15 The role of the legal profession in criminal justice reform needs to be addressed…. Victorian Legal Aid is setting a lead in this area Community Legal Centres play a pivotal role also The Victorian Law Institute is increasingly active BUT…. The tide is still heading in the wrong direction

16 The legal profession faces a serious risk of being compromised in terms of its commitment to promote justice So do the social service providers, including the church based organisations: too concerned with their contracts and funding opportunities….

17 Clearly individual advocacy is a critical core responsibility of the legal profession But it is imperative to draw conclusions from such professional practice to address structural issues and causes

18 Where should the emphasis be? Good social planning Emphasis on community cohesion Early intervention and prevention Educational opportunities for all Accessible health services Minimise the role of criminal justice…

19 The battle is on right now…… We need to turn the tide of repression and social control Encourage the energy of young advocates and social reformers

20 VLA Criminal Law Conference A remarkable gathering of those committed to the promotion of justice in our society May our discussions today consolidate that commitment to positive change and reform


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