A bill to make it easier for Tasmania’s Director of Public Prosecutions to have someone declared a dangerous criminal and therefore keep them behind bars has passed the state’s lower house.
The Sentencing Amendment (Dangerous Criminals and High Risk Offenders) Bill 2020 passed the House of Assembly unopposed yesterday afternoon.
It seeks to repeal the provisions for dangerous criminal declarations contained in the Sentencing Act 1997, establishing in their place new laws that will continue to allow for the indefinite detention of offenders deemed dangerous criminals, while also introducing a new high-risk offender classification.
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This is designed to facilitate the supervision of certain offenders after they’ve been released into the community.
The new legislation comes in the wake of a report from the Tasmania Law Reform Institute, recommending a number of changes to Tasmania’s existing laws around indefinite detention of so-called dangerous criminals.
Attorney-General Elise Archer told the house that there were currently five people in Tasmania who had been declared dangerous criminals and were therefore indefinitely detained under the current or previous legislative provisions.
Whereas it was previously required that the convicting or sentencing judge be the only one to make a dangerous criminal declaration, the bill would empower the DPP to make an application when warranted.
The high-risk offender classification is to be applied to serious offenders who don’t meet the dangerous criminal threshold but may still be a risk to the community without post-sentence supervision.
“I just want to ensure the house and, indeed, the public that we’re now doing more than ever before to ensure that offenders are successfully rehabilitated and rehabilitation back into the community is a productive process and that they can become law-abiding citizens,” Ms Archer said.
The bill will now be considered by the Legislative Council.