EXCLUSIVE: Aboriginal activist concerns over tough new prison structure

The High Risk Serious Offenders Bill will now see the Courts able to keep WA’s most violent and dangerous criminals behind bars or under strict supervision.

Sexual or violent offenders who are nearing their release date and are deemed likely to pose an unacceptable risk to the community, could be issued a continuing detention or supervision order.

Minister for Corrective Services, Francis Logan, said with advice given to the court they can request their freedom, demonstrating changes to their behaviour, their likely future behaviour and their danger to the public.

“That fairness will be done by the courts themselves, which the offender can speak up and defend themselves in court,”

“It’s a very unusual structure that we have here in WA, it’s a far more tougher structure and has tougher control of the offender beyond their sentence,” Mr Logan said.

Ngalla Maya CEO, Mervyn Eades believes the bill should be amended, with calls for Aboriginals facing potential scrutiny under this bill to be viewed on a case by case basis.

“They talk about closing the gap and reducing incarceration rates, but they bring out a bill like this where someone who has already served their sentence could be deemed under the high risk offenders bill and kept in prison until the law system determines it’s okay to set them free…”

He said the serious offenders bill and the ramifications on Aboriginal people of WA is massive, as 80% of Aboriginals within the prison system are people who fit into the criteria of the bill.

“They could be held to account and kept in the system much longer than they were originally sentenced to, and they already served,” Mr Eades commented.

Mr Eades feels the bill doesn’t allow for Indigenous Australians to have a fair, second chance within the society, with no opportunity to redeem themselves for their past ways.

He said the poverty and disadvantaged narrative usually conveyed has been criminalised, and believes a lot of Indigenous people have been targeted with this bill.

“If they’ve paid their dues why should they still be seen as a serious offender?” – raising questions about the rehabilitation process and punitive approach within our prison systems.

“Every case is different, every person is different…”

“Don’t do a bill that will just categorise them without giving them the reference of redemption,” Mr Eades pleaded.

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