Vic priest slams "continued detention"

Proposed new state laws, which provide for Supreme Court approved "continued detention" of convicted prisoners who have completed their jail sentences, reverse 200 years of "fundamental" legal practice, says justice campaigner Jesuit Fr Peter Norden.

The Herald Sun reports that the Victorian Goverment's plans for continued detention of the state's worst sex offenders have ignited fierce debate.

Opponents say the scheme would cost $50 million a year that would be better spent on intervention programs at the beginning of criminals' sentences.

Victorian Criminal Justice Coalition convener Fr Norden said continued detention punished people for what they might do rather than for crimes they had committed.

"It has been fundamental to our criminal code over more than 200 years that once a sentence is served, the offender has done the time," Fr Norden said.

"No one knows how to accurately predict future behaviour," he said.

The Criminal Justice Coalition represents more than 60 legal, academic, social justice and church organisations.

Fr Norden said it would be legally and morally unjustifiable for the State Government to ignore its own expert advice from the Sentencing Advisory Council.

But victims' groups have welcomed the proposed law.

They have congratulated the Government for making protection of the public its top priority, rather than the rights of serial sex offenders.

The Government will press on with the continued detention scheme, even though a narrow majority of its Sentencing Advisory Council voted against the idea.

A continued detention law would allow judges to keep prisoners in jail if they were still considered dangerous when their sentences expired.

Outrage at jail scheme (Sun-Herald, 4/7/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Peter Norden (Jesuit Social Services)

No national security tip offs, religious leaders say (CathNews, 14/6/07)

4 Jul 2007