Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Justice spokesperson
The Sentencing Advisory Council's report on the phasing out of suspended sentences delivered a list of less proven and far more costly alternatives. That's no surprise, considering they've only been asked to work with the worst-case scenario.
Tasmanian evidence clearly shows that suspended sentences deter reoffending with very little expense to the taxpayer. The Attorney General needs to walk away from this populist and risky election promise now.
The SAC report confirms the government’s model “will have considerable cost implications, while unconditional suspended sentences are cost neutral”. The Liberals are in fact breaking their own election promise to deliver a cost-neutral alternative to suspended sentences.
Initial estimates are that this will cost the government at least $10M per year, and the new sentencing options could only be effective if more custodial and alcohol treatment staff are employed.
The new sentencing options being proposed by the Attorney General, such as alcohol and drug treatment orders, and community corrections orders, are worthwhile additions but should not come at the expense of a proven option, like suspended sentences.
More than 5500 offenders get a suspended sentence each year in Tasmania. If Tasmania follows in Victoria's footsteps, we could see half these offenders sent to prison.
The SAC report was rigged towards a political outcome, the Terms of Reference didn't even offer an option of assessing whether suspended sentences were the most cost-effective deterrent. But Professor Freiberg's comments were very clear today, the Liberals' policy is expensive and full of risk.