Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 5 Hansard (7 April) . . Page.. 1506..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
just six completed sentences a year. We will continue to support periodic detention and the other sentencing options set out in the bill.
Apart from New South Wales, the ACT is the only Australian jurisdiction to offer periodic detention and it is clear from the level of usage by the courts that it is a more important and useful option than home detention. I believe this decision is in the best interests of the territory and reflects an honest and realistic assessment of the utility of home detention.
The Crimes (Sentencing) Bill 2005 consolidates a plethora of provisions from various acts that form the ACT's sentencing law. The current diverse sources of sentencing law reflect the disjointed manner in which sentencing law has been made in the ACT. These diverse sources fail to provide easy access to the statutory provisions relating to the principles and procedures of sentencing. This contributes to a risk of error in sentencing decisions and makes it difficult to ensure a consistent approach to sentencing.
The first thing practitioners will notice about this bill is the harmonisation of language, concepts and procedures. The bill is a compact expression of all the sentencing dispositions and sentencing procedure for the ACT. Chapter 3 of the bill forms the core of sentencing options. It is concise and direct.
The bill also includes a number of government initiatives to give courts the flexibility to determine a sentence that matches the particular needs of the case. The bill introduces the concept of combination sentences. The bill removes the old restrictions on combining penalties for individual convictions. Courts will be able to customise the sentence to the offence, the offender and the circumstances of the offence.
A primary aim of combination sentences is to improve prevention, management and rehabilitation of offending behaviour. The court will have the flexibility to impose any number of orders as part of a whole sentence. For example, the court may impose a sentence combining full-time imprisonment with a period of periodic detention, followed by a good behaviour order with a community service condition. The bill provides the overarching power for a court to sentence a convicted person to imprisonment. Imprisonment is the confinement of an offender in the custody of the state and restrains the liberty of the person during the time of imprisonment.
Within the context of imprisonment, periodic detention will be available as part-time imprisonment. Periodic detention allows for both the imposition of a custodial sentence and the maintenance of an offender's positive contribution to the community by way of family life, work or study. The government has opted for a form of periodic detention linked to the sentence of imprisonment. A court may set a period of periodic detention if a sentence of imprisonment is imposed. ACT Corrective Services will then have the responsibility of implementing the periodic detention. The Sentence Administration Board will be responsible for addressing any breaches of periodic detention and, if necessary, reverting the offender to full-time imprisonment.
The Crimes (Sentencing) Bill creates good behaviour orders, which will replace recognisances and options available currently under section 403 of the Crimes Act 1900. Good behaviour orders will be a vehicle for a range of conditions that can be set by the court; for example, a condition that the offender engage in community service work or