Page 2501 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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Thursday, 30 June 2005

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Crimes (Sentence Administration) Bill 2005

Mr Stanhope, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (10.32): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

On 7 April this year I introduced the Crimes (Sentencing) Bill 2005, a bill that would create an enormous improvement to our sentencing law. Today, I introduce the counterpart to that bill, the Crimes (Sentence Administration) Bill 2005. The purpose of this bill is to set out the law that requires offenders to complete their sentences and enables ACT Corrective Services to supervise sentences imposed by the courts. The bill sets out the framework for the lawful management of sentences. The bill modernises a range of existing sentencing law and provides for the management of new sentencing options created by the Crimes (Sentencing) Bill 2005.

In a democratic society every person and every institution is obliged to abide by the rule of law. This bill aims to strengthen community confidence in the criminal justice system by ensuring that there are clear obligations upon everyone who must serve a sentence, and that these obligations will be enforced. In this spirit, the bill also articulates the powers and functions of any agency managing sentences. The government and its departments are obliged to ensure that people found guilty of breaking the law are themselves treated lawfully. This is an example of human rights in practice.

The bill will protect offenders against arbitrary acts because it openly expresses the law that would apply to those serving sentences. The bill upholds the authority of corrections officers to manage and enforce sentences by clearly expressing their powers and responsibilities. The rights of offenders and the powers of public authorities are best protected if these rights and powers are laid down in law that is publicly known, equally applied and effectively enforced. To this end, the bill creates a standard model for administering and enforcing each sentencing option. The bill sets out the obligations upon offenders for each type of sentence, full-time detention, periodic detention and good behaviour orders. The bill openly sets out the consequences for any offenders failing to meet their obligations.

One of the most useful sentencing options in the territory is periodic detention. Periodic detention is part-time imprisonment. An offender is in full-time custody for a period, usually over a weekend. This arrangement allows both the imposition of a custodial sentence and the maintenance of an offender’s positive contribution to the community,

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