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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3463 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

officers are more concerned with containing them than with their care, I still have some questions.

Let's not swap one hell for another. Just in case anyone here says, "It's a prison, not a holiday camp," may I remind you that recidivism is very high. That means our prisons are not reducing crime because they are not addressing inequity, disadvantage, the frame of reference and other factors that underlie crime.

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hird): Members, Mr Osborne has requested that some assistance be provided on the floor of the chamber. The chair has acknowledged that. I trust that members will agree with the chair.

MR OSBORNE (11.24): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, this bill has caused me a deal of concern. I appreciate that the provision of home detention was part of my platform at the last election. However, new research and a recent review of the New South Wales home detention scheme has dampened my initial enthusiasm to some extent.

In general I still support the overall concept of home detention and will vote to pass this bill with a number of amendments which have been circulated. Where it is appropriate for both the prisoner and their family, I can see benefits. In addition to keeping families together as they go through an incredibly difficult period in their lives, home detention also produces a significant cost-saving, costing only about 40 per cent of what it would to house a prisoner per day. However, there are several common and important criticisms of home detention, both as an overall concept and as contained in the bill.

One is a concept referred to as net widening. This is where people are placed into home detention who would not normally have been sentenced to imprisonment. Net widening can be avoided, however, by only allowing home detention to those who have already been convicted of criminal charges and sentenced. This was an important finding in the New South Wales study.

For this reason, and to prevent an unnecessary social stigma, I have an amendment to the bill that will remove the use of home detention for those on remand. It seems sensible to me that if a person can be trusted enough with home detention before they go to trial, then surely they can be given bail. Rather than remove the remand provision altogether, I intend to amend clause 7 to include a two-year delay in its commencement. This would give enough time to judge how the overall scheme is travelling and allow a further judgment to be made by the Assembly in 2003-2004.

A further criticism is the potential for increased conflict within the family once home detention has commenced. This concern was borne out by the New South Wales study that noted that about 20 per cent of home detention orders were revoked during the two-year study period. However, not all those revocations were due to family conflict. The study also noted that there were families who experienced an increase in healthy communication and stability.

A further benefit noted in New South Wales was the potential to increase family income. This is a most important point, given the financial burden families face when the breadwinner has been removed from the household. It is common for the families of prisoners to experience severe indebtedness, and mortgaged homes can easily be lost.

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