Transforming Criminal Justice

The Attorney-General's Department

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Transforming Criminal Justice

The South Australian Government is committed to bringing together the agencies and organisations that make up the criminal justice system to ensure that reform is coordinated. The criminal justice system serves the community of South Australia. The community has the right to expect a criminal justice system that is just and fair, people-focused, visible and accessible, and that operates efficiently and effectively. 

The criminal justice system is made up of a number of entities. Each plays a different role in a system designed to address the community’s expectation that people who break the law are punished and face appropriate consequences and that victims of crime are treated with respect and sensitivity.
When looking at the different elements of the criminal justice system, it becomes clear that when change occurs in one part of the system, this inevitably impacts across the continuum.  Historically reform in the criminal justice system has occurred within each element resulting in costs and risks being shifted between agencies, rather than solutions being developed for the whole system.
The South Australian Government is committed to looking at the whole system when considering reform, with every part being open for review and consideration.

The Statutes Amendment (Home Detention) Bill

The Statutes Amendment (Home Detention) Bill 2015 (the Bill) was introduced into Parliament on Thursday 10 September 2015, reflecting feedback on the Transforming Criminal Justice - Better Sentencing Options Discussion Paper (see further details below).

The Bill has now been passed by Parliament. 

The Bill will amend the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 such that:
  • a court will have the ability to order that a period of imprisonment be served on home detention in place of a custodial sentence.  

  • a home detention order will be a valid sentencing option where a court has determined that a sentence of imprisonment must be imposed and there does not exist good reason to suspend that sentence, but the offender is considered to be a suitable candidate to serve the period of imprisonment on home detention.  

  • the paramount consideration of a court in determining whether to make such an order must be the safety of the community.   

  • a home detention order is intended to be a sentencing option for an offender who has been individually assessed as posing a low risk of causing harm to the community or of reoffending.  

These amendments draw on the experience of the home detention program already implemented and operated by the Department for Correctional Services.  
The Bill will also amend the Correctional Services Act 1982 to expand the current home detention program and removes the requirement for prisoners to serve 50 percent of a non-parole period (or total sentence where no non-parole period is fixed) before being eligible for release on home detention, as well as removing the limitation that prisoners can only spend a maximum period of 12 months on home detention.  All other eligibility criteria for release on home detention under the Correctional Services Act 1982 will remain - with life sentenced prisoners, sex offenders and terrorist offenders remaining ineligible. 

Sentencing Act Review

The Criminal Law (Sentencing Act 1988) was enacted in 1988 and although it has been amended on many occasions since, the time has now come for a complete review after nearly 30 years of operation. 
The Review is being undertaken in bite sized parts, for ease of consideration and consultation. Each part of the Review represents an aspect of the Sentencing Act that is being examined and may be re-written. 
The Sentencing (First Principles) Bill 2015 represented the first part of the Review, and provided everyone with an opportunity to reconsider issues such as the fundamental purposes of sentencing, and the universal factors to be taken into account in sentencing. 
The Bill was a consultation draft, which means that it is not a definite position, but rather a set of words exposed to the public so that views may be provided by experts and non-experts. The Bill proposed an entirely new set of general principles for sentencing. This set of general priciples is intended to replace section 10 of the Sentencing Act. 
Feedback on the consultation draft Bill was sought (including via YourSAy). This consultation has now closed.

Connecting the criminal justice system through information management

Connecting the criminal justice system through information management (PDF 1318KB) was a discussion paper in the Transforming Criminal Justice series released in March 2016.

What was being decided?

This paper looked at ways in which improved information sharing, through better business practice and use of technology, can deliver better criminal justice services to the South Australian community.
We sought to understand and improve how victims, witnesses and defendants interact with the criminal justice system. We wanted to explore the community’s vision of what an accessible and transparent criminal justice system might look like a system that fosters community confidence through improved information management.
The intention of this Discussion Paper was to share information about work that has been underway, and work that is planned with the community. We sought general feedback from all people who participate within the criminal justice system.
Some specific issues for consideration were:
  • Electronic Communication – does the community see the opportunity for online management of some criminal justice issues?
  • Online Services – in what ways would the community like to interact with the criminal justice system? What services should be done electronically and/or online?
  • What information would the community like to receive electronically or access online?
  • Does more extensive use of Video Conferencing appeal to the community?
  • What opportunities does the legal profession see for increasing productivity in the criminal justice system through the use of more contemporary practices?.

The Discussion Paper was made available on YourSAy, and consultation closed on 30 April 2016.

All feedback received has been taken into consideration as part of the Transforming Criminal Justice reform program. 

You can read the Discussion Paper here

Better Sentencing Options: Creating the Best Outcomes for Our Community

Discussion Paper

In June 2015 the Attorney-General released the Transforming Criminal Justice: Putting People First Discussion Paper on Better Sentencing Options:Creating the Best Outcomes for Our Community. 
The Government asked the community to provide feedback on whether some individuals, who would otherwise be sentenced to imprisonment, could be punished and rehabilitated in other ways following a proper risk assessment.  
The Discussion Paper on Better Sentencing Options continued the Government’s conversation with the community about criminal justice sector reform and in particular, what the appropriate consequences are for offenders who commit crimes and how best the community can be served through sentencing. Feedback was due on 29 August 2015.
The Discussion Paper emphasised that community protection must remain the primary objective and that community safety is enhanced when the rate at which people commit crimes is reduced. 
The Government asked all South Australians to consider that the community could be better served by allowing some offenders to serve their sentence in the community, allowing an offender to work towards rehabilitation, reintegration and becoming a productive member of society, at the same time as being punished. 

Community Advisory Panel and Key Partner Workshop

As part of community consultation on the Discussion Paper, in August 2015 the Attorney-General engaged democracyCo to broaden the democratic engagement, and add a deliberative element, to the consultation.  
DemocracyCo facilitated a Community Advisory Panel (the Panel) involving 19 individual community members who came together over two evening to deliberate over:
“What is important to you about how we rehabilitate offenders outside prison to enhance community safety?”
The Panel were asked to consider that community safety is enhanced when offenders are rehabilitated and do not reoffend, and community based sentences and rehabilitation programs can reduce reoffending.
DemocracyCo also facilitated a Key Partner Workshop over one day involving 30 representatives from government and non-government organisations with an interest in the treatment of offenders in the community.  
These Key Partners were asked:
“What needs to be considered and done to successfully supervise and rehabilitate offenders outside of prison to reduce re-offending and enhance community safety?”  
The Key Partner Workshop focused on options discussed in the Discussion Paper including home detention.  
The Key Partners were asked to consider the best approach and how to overcome hurdles to success to help transform the criminal justice system in South Australia.
The reports of the deliberations of the Key Partners and the Panel prepared by democracyCo are available here:

Register your interest to be involved and provide your views as the Government puts bold and brave ideas for proposed reform to the community, the legal profession and the criminal justice sector.

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Last updated: 
Wednesday, 18 May 2016