3.10.2011

Investing in the future

The New South Wales (NSW Australia) Community Justice Coalition comprises of organisations including the Aboriginal Legal Service, Unions NSW, the International Commission of Jurists, National Council of Social Security, NSW Aboriginal Land Council, NSW Teachers Federation and NSW Council for Civil Liberties. They have responded positively to a newly announced policy by the NSW Liberal and National Party Coalition.
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Dealing with the causes of crime, as proposed by the NSW Liberals and Nationals, through drug rehabilitation and education programs such as putting computers in prison cells is a welcome change. That will reduce the strain on our prison system and the taxpayer, since every prisoner who returns to prison diverts resources from health, education and infrastructure”, says CJC President, Davit Bitel.

These proposals to reduce re-offending are in line with earlier commitments made at the CJC Justice Forum. Reducing recidivism will reduce the number of victims – not just statistics but the real damage caused by failed justice policies,” says CJC Vice President, Hon John Dowd, AO, QC. According to the Liberals & Nationals they are "determined to reduce crime and make our homes and neighbourhoods safer”, through a second Drug Court and $20 million of funding over four years for education and training programs in prisons.
For those of us working within the field of Restorative Justice & Penal Reform, this approach has to be a better way to go for prisons, victims and communities everywhere, and especially when there is out of control recidivism and poor funding of prison-based programs as well as very few community based programs.

For many of us this is Justice Reinvestment at the coalface.... and not soon enough. Our dream is to have the criminal justice system introduce restorative justice processes within each prison, as a genuine response to criminogenic issues and to encourage victim empathy and awareness of harm.

To say that 'every prison should be a problem solving, restorative prison', is a must, and by that I mean families, victims and communities of interest need to be encouraged to become a part of each prisoner's solution for their crime free future, as we all attempt to reduce victimisation.

It goes without saying that prison officers and management also have to engage positively with all aspects of prison life if we are to turn around a system that for too many years has worked on the principle of growth rather than the reduction of prisoner numbers and crimes.



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