ALA urges Qld election not to be another law and order auction

17th Feb 2012

Australian Lawyers Alliance National President, Greg Barns, today urged all major parties in the forth-coming Queensland state election to steer clear of a law and order auction.

Speaking at the ALA’s Queensland conference on the Gold Coast, attended by 325 lawyers and academics, Mr Barns said state elections were often characterised by political parties seeking to out bid each other on who could have the toughest law and order policies.

“As we know from experience in this country, and the United States, policies like mandatory prison terms for offences, which send more people to jail for longer periods do not lead to a reduction in crime nor increase community safety,” Mr Barns said.

“The ALA urges Premier Bligh, the Liberal National Party leader, Campbell Newman, and other party leaders to devise, law and order justice policies that focus on addressing the root causes of crime.

"For example, it is a well known fact that drugs and alcohol are a major factor in crimes of violence and household burglaries in Queensland. Policies and programs that provide the opportunity for the courts to divert offenders into rehabilitation programs will be much more effective than simply announcing increases in prison sentences,” he said.

Mr Barns also urged both the ALP, the LNP, and other parties, to examine what is happening in the United States.

“In an increasing number of states in the US, politicians are abandoning law and order policies because the cost of jailing people is too high and crime rates are not being reduced.

"Even among conservative US politicians, there is a much greater recognition of the need to focus on providing non-custodial programs for offenders.

"Political parties that make promises about locking up more offenders need to realise that this will cost taxpayers dearly.

"The cost of imprisonment in Queensland is $210 per day for 5,500 prisoners, or $1.15 million a day.

"It is expensive and offenders come out of prison and commit further crimes, which are another burden on society,” Mr Barns said.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance is a non-profit national organisation with about 1400 members who work to promoted access to justice for everyone in Australia.

Tags: Queensland Criminal justice mandatory sentencing