Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1654 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
I have to say, in the mood I am in, Mr Stefaniak, that that does not necessarily say that those high rates of breaches reflect a failure-that the people serving those community service orders were deliberately or necessarily flouting the law. There is a whole range of circumstances. It may even be that the breaching of those community service orders was a sign of success, in that the person may, in some way, have been rehabilitated or restored through their participation in the community service order, but that, at some hurdle, they fell or failed and a breach was notified. That is not to say it was not a reasonable sentencing option, or that the sentencing option in some way failed.
We should not see these things in black and white terms, saying, "A breach occurred. We have a certain percentage of breaches of community service orders-therefore, community service orders either are not being administered or they are not a legitimate or reasonable sentencing option". I believe we must be careful as to how we analyse some of these numbers, in the context of a debate around a genuinely restorative or rehabilitative approach to criminal justice.
I take the opportunity to make the point that we are in the midst of a sentencing review being done within the Department of Justice. We would like to work harder on some of these issues or initiatives, but resources are strapped, as always. However, we are involved in a genuine look at sentencing of persons convicted of crimes in the ACT.
We are focusing on issues such as non-custodial sentencing options, post-sentencing treatment and rehabilitation programs, particularly for people with special needs, as well as rectifying identified difficulties and defects in sentencing legislation. If there are concerns in relation to community service orders and their administration, they too will be reviewed in that context.
We are having a genuine look at sentencing and sentencing options. We have not adopted Mr Stefaniak's approach of "lock them up and throw away the key". In Mr Stefaniak's mind, a sentencing review, as reflected in the legislation he introduced in this place, is: sentencing is all about being tough on crime, so just increase the penalties. If you have a penalty of 10 years for an offence then, heck, make it 15 years. If you have one for 15 years, then make it 20 or 25 years.
Mr Stefaniak, that is the philosophy reflected in your legislation. It is not a view this government takes. We are genuinely looking at restorative and rehabilitative approaches. We are looking at all aspects, but we should not be black and white-we should not be muscular about these issues.
Sure-people convicted of criminal offences must face the full force of the law-they must pay the penalty. The community has a right to expect that; they have a right to be safe; and they have a right expect that the will of the court will be carried out; but we, as a community, must look at what we are doing.
I am not being hard and tough about this, Mr Stefaniak. You brought this matter on. You and I have a different philosophical approach to these issues. I am not here