This position paper is one of four produced by Jesuit Social Services as part of our 2014 Victorian State Government Election Platform.
In it, we call for a more effective and humane approach to criminal justice that focuses on:
- preventing crime by addressing its root causes
- diverting people from the justice system
- providing safe and therapeutic prison environments
- supporting people who are released from prison to become productive members of our community.
We propose 10 initiatives that support an effective approach to criminal justice by preventing crime in the first place and, where crime does occur, by ensuring that our responses to it hold people who offend to account, satisfy victims’ interests, and reduce the likelihood of repeat offending. These initiatives are to:
- Invest in the universal services that tackle the underlying causes of crime.
- Prevent crime by investing in community development and governance activities in disadvantaged communities.
- Promote local approaches to diversion by expanding the Neighbourhood Justice Centre model to communities with high levels of criminal justice system involvement.
- Expand problem-solving courts and establish a problem-solving court to divert people with multiple and complex needs.
- Reform sentencing laws so that prison is used only as an option of last resort.
- Reform the prison system by developing an end-to-end approach focused on meeting the needs of prisoners and preparing them for return to the community.
- Strengthen pathways into learning and work across the corrections system with a particular focus on building people’s foundational skills.
- Commit to achieving a 15 per cent reduction in re-offending over the next five years.
- Invest in longer, deeper and fuller approaches to transitional support for highly vulnerable people exiting prison.
- Prevent homelessness among people exiting prison by delivering a diverse range of housing and support options that meet their needs.
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