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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4375..


MR QUINLAN (continuing):

In 2000, ACT Corrective Services was given the task of drafting legislation suitable for this purpose by corrective services ministers. The ACT has accordingly drafted this bill as model legislation for implementation in all Australian states and territories. The scheme established by the legislation will be trialled initially between the ACT and one other jurisdiction, as I have already said, for a short period to establish suitable administrative processes for the efficient running of the scheme.

The bill formalises a process that already occurs between all Australian jurisdictions whereby offenders with certain non-custodial sentences are able to have their order supervised and administered informally in a new jurisdiction. There are many reasons that offenders may wish to move to a new jurisdiction. Notable reasons may be proximity to improved family and community support or the prospect of increased choice of employment or study opportunities.

In a number of respects, the current scheme is less that ideal. Critically, limited opportunities exist for acting in the case of an offender who does not comply with their sentence. Currently, if an offender breaches a community-based sentence while in a new jurisdiction, they remain accountable to the original sentencing jurisdiction. Extradition procedures are required to return the offender to the original jurisdiction if the offender does not return of their own volition, which can involve the expenditure of significant time, money and effort. To address this shortcoming in the current arrangements, the bill ensures that, while offenders with non-custodial sentences remain able to move to a new jurisdiction, they will be held accountable by the new jurisdiction if they breach their sentence, thereby releasing the original jurisdiction from its obligations.

This bill will achieve two primary goals. Firstly, the scheme will continue to allow offenders to transfer the supervision and administration of a community-based sentence to a new jurisdiction. This will promote freedom of movement and will maximise the access that offenders have to suitable services and support. Secondly, the scheme increases the offender's accountability to the conditions of their sentence. Allowing transfer to a new area in which the offender has good support has been shown to increase the chances of the offender fulfilling the order.

Offenders who successfully complete a community-based sentence are diverted from the prison system and encouraged to participate in treatment programs that may produce positive rehabilitative results and promote a positive reintegration into the community while reducing the chance of the prisoner reoffending.

The transfer scheme will operate through a local authority, which will be a public servant nominated and appointed by the chief executive of each jurisdiction. The authority will be the central contact point for all requests for transfers to and from that particular jurisdiction. A register of transferred orders will be established to record all necessary details of the offender, the offence, and the community-based sentence. The scheme will operate in much the same way as that established by the ACT Parole Orders (Transfer) Act 1983 and related interstate legislation.

This legislation specifies a number of requirements related to form and process. These include the way in which requests for transfer must be made by the designated authority for the original jurisdiction and the information that must accompany a request for it to be considered. The bill also outlines certain criteria that the authority must be satisfied


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