Mass Incarceration

Legal advocates call for urgent bail reform in Victoria

Performing govt director of felony regulation at Victoria Authorized Support, Alice Cashen, mentioned present bail legal guidelines wanted pressing reform and have been “disproportionately inflicting hurt” to First Nations individuals.


“We’d like a system which helps individuals to remain related to their group, help companies, housing and employment to allow them to tackle the problems of their lives which have introduced them to courtroom,” she mentioned.

Victoria has among the many hardest bail legal guidelines in Australia. The proportion of prisoners held on remand (when an accused individual is charged however not given bail) has elevated dramatically for the reason that passing of stricter legal guidelines.

Based on the Sentencing Advisory Council, in 2017 earlier than the modification to the Bail Act, 31 per cent of the jail inhabitants was unsentenced. By 2021, unsentenced prisoners had increased to 43 per cent.

Human Rights Regulation Centre appearing managing lawyer Amala Ramarathinam known as on the federal government to handle the legal guidelines, saying pressing motion was wanted to handle Victoria’s mass imprisonment crises.

“Victoria has a number of the most harmful and discriminatory bail legal guidelines within the nation which might be eradicating girls from their households and funnelling them into prisons to be warehoused on remand,” she mentioned.

“A courageous Victorian authorities would cease propping up a system of cruelty by overhauling the state’s bail legal guidelines. This reform is essential and should not be delayed any additional.”

In a submission to the Yoorrook Justice Fee, human rights organisation Liberty Victoria famous that in 2020, the speed for Aboriginal adults in custody was about 1837 per 100,000 Victorian Aboriginal adults, whereas the final grownup imprisonment fee for Victorian adults was 135.

Liberty Victoria really helpful the elimination of reverse onus exams, so all bail choices are made on the idea of unacceptable threat.


Regulation Institute of Victoria’s president Tania Wolff mentioned the Bail Act ought to be amended so solely those that pose a selected threat to the protection of one other individual or those that are a flight threat are denied bail.

Victoria’s bail legal guidelines have been handed within the midst of a political local weather of intense debate and commentary, which led to the 2018 Victorian state election being fought on regulation and order points. Labor hailed the laws as the “most onerous” in the country.

Authorities sources mentioned many senior ministers supported the reforms, however they conceded the federal government was reluctant to embrace change within the lead-up to final yr’s election due to the sensitivity of regulation and order points.

Minister Ben Carroll mentioned on Tuesday the federal government would proceed to have a look at methods to enhance the bail legal guidelines and conceded that they had extra work to do when it got here to incarceration charges of girls and Indigenous prisoners.

“We’re all the time defending probably the most susceptible, but in addition guaranteeing that those who break the regulation are held accountable,” he mentioned.

Victorian Greens chief Samantha Ratnam mentioned Aboriginal and First Nations Australians have been being imprisoned at an “appallingly excessive fee” in Victoria.

“Except the Victorian Labor Authorities addresses bail reform now, Victoria’s enduring legacy will likely be considered one of over-imprisonment and racial inequality.”

Veteran lawyer Invoice Doogue, director of felony defence agency Doogue & George, mentioned there’s widespread consternation amongst felony regulation practitioners about the best way Victorian bail legal guidelines are producing unjust outcomes for accused individuals.

“They have been a knee-jerk response to particular instances, and sadly they’ve resulted in individuals doing jail time who wouldn’t in any other case do jail time, and likewise individuals being held when their circumstances are so patently clear that they shouldn’t be held,” he mentioned.

“The courtroom has to use these legal guidelines, and so they do, but it surely causes nice injustice, and nice unhappiness to everybody concerned within the justice system to see the way it’s operating.”

A Police Affiliation spokesman mentioned Victorians shouldn’t neglect the reforms have been launched to safeguard the group from critical crimes dedicated by those that ought to have been in custody.

“Ought to the necessity come up sooner or later to think about minor reform, it must be balanced and thought of in opposition to the wants of the entire of our group,” he mentioned.

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