Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 March 2005) . . Page.. 1119 ..
jail. It is about treating these people with the dignity that they are entitled to as human beings, recognising that they have perpetrated a significant injury on the society from which they come and, in particular, on individuals within that society.
I find that what we need to do of course is address their antisocial behaviour. And in some cases we are going to fail. Let us get it upfront: in some cases we are going to fail. But I will warrant you, Mr Speaker, that the overwhelming number of cases will be successful because, if people believe that they are, in a sense, regarded highly by their community and they want them back, that is fine.
The other thing about restorative justice is that it makes sense economically. If you can stop a person from going back to jail—let us say it costs you 95,000 bucks a year to keep a person in jail and you can stop them being a recidivist—that means, when they get out and they pay $20,000 tax, you have got yourself a $115,000 turnaround. So, economically it makes sense. Having the prison constructed on RJ principles actually makes economic sense. Clearly, I would rather have somebody come out of a prison system and start to pay tax. If we pay 95,000 grand for one year’s worth of incarceration, it only takes them five years worth of tax to pay that back and then they are off and running like a good member of our society.
I congratulate Ms Porter very sincerely on bringing this motion forward. I hope that the motion will be embraced by the Assembly, particularly with the spirit in which it has been offered. At the moment, I refer you to her part in Volunteering ACT, where she was leading the way in getting people to start thinking about alternative models of corrections in this town. I sincerely hope that people recognise that and pay due respect to the leadership Ms Porter has actually given us. I commend the motion to the Assembly.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.54): It would appear that the motion is obviously going to be supported. We certainly support it. But there are a few things that I, too, would caution. Mr Seselja has already made the point: let us see how this goes. There are some figures that he quoted—I will only refer to a couple—which indicate there may be problems with it.
Basically, you need a suite of options in terms of sentencing—firstly, to suit the crime, the gravity of the crime; the issues around the defendant; what would be best in terms of the defendant’s imprisonment; issues around what the community expectation is; deterrents; punishment; rehabilitation; the safety of the community. All those things need to be taken into account. You cannot make sweeping, broad generalisations.
Mr Hargreaves has actually made one. He talks about warehousing—I assume he means jailing people—saying that that just makes everyone harder criminals. In some instances it does, just like in some instances restorative justice is not going to work. I could, but I will not, certainly rattle off a lot of people who have actually been to jail and who have never offended again. They do not want to go back there. It actually has managed to turn their lives around. I have met a number of people, too, who have actually done courses in jail. That is good rehabilitation, and that is what we need. That is what I hope we will have in our prison. That also assists them in terms of getting out into the workforce and turning their lives around.