Some legal developments

See, after that heading, I could write anything I like under here and it wouldn’t matter, because everyone’s already clicked to the next post in their RSS reader. Well, screw those people. They’re missing out on some pretty darn interesting and important revelations, and what will undoubtedly be one of the most amusing, thrilling and also informative comment threads this site has ever seen.

Three things.

  • Another note about VLA’s new flawed “whole of job” proposal: the threshold below which a contested matter will not be aidable will be raised from a $750 fine to a 200 hour CBO. If you’re innocent but have been charged with a fairly serious matter at about the 150 hour CBO level, and you can’t afford a lawyer? Stiff, Legal Aid can’t help you. The point is to save $475,000, but the effect will be to increase the number of unrepresented cases being run to hearing, chewing up court time and resources (unrepresented litigants take more time because they don’t know what they’re doing), increase the number of appeals being run, and basically just condemn more people, poorer people, to a very one-sided hearing before the courts. Next time you see $475k being wasted by the State Government, remember that they could’ve spent that cash not throwing people to the wolves.
  • Crikey reports on the devastating situation in NSW (and it’s not much different here) with respect to the way the prison system simply does not know how to cope properly with mentally-ill people:

    Nearly half of all inmates in New South Wales have a mental illness, but there is a desperate shortage of beds in prison mental health units and decisions about their care are left in the hands of prison guards with little or no training in mental health.

    The result, according to a former senior assistant commissioner for Corrective Services NSW, is a punitive prison system and a growing population of unreformable criminals.

    Even those found not guilty of offences by reason of mental illness find themselves being put into the care of the prisons rather than receiving appropriate treatment.

  • Victoria’s looking at expanding the DNA database by taking samples from anyone found guilty of an indictable offence. What’s the problem? Well, there’s already a list of offences for which that power exists, covering all the relevant ones, so the question is – why are we adding to it? Which offences that the parliament originally felt could not be justified adding to the list are now being snuck in – and at a time when forensic services are already overstretched?

See? Devastatingly interesting. Those people who nicked off at the heading don’t know what they’re missing.

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5 responses to “Some legal developments

  1. Wisdom Like Silence

    Did anyone else get involved in that Cheez TV reunion spam-a-thon?

  2. Wisdom Like Silence

    Those measures read and feel like pre-ambles to the Reichstag Fire Decree. I can’t think many people working in the legal sphere will be impressed by these new Laura Norder and Kosta Cuts measures, Will they?

    Having worked in the mental health game for a while now, and having dealt almost exclusively with the dangerous patients, I cannot be anything other than very disappointed, as I’m sure most people would be (I’m so funny), with the state of affairs in terms of prisoner care, or even non-prisoner care. All sticking mental health patients who’ve committed crimes into prisons does is compound, almost exponentially, the usually somewhat minor mental health issues they have before going in. As they say, it turns people from reformable to completely lost causes. The prison guards I’ve dealt with, however, do try their best to give them adequate care when they’re in the gaol, but they’re so overwhelmed they don’t have the neccessary time to do it. If NSW Legal Aid goes the same way as the Victorian one, this issue will only loom larger. And end up costing tax payers way way way way more.

    I think the DNA expansion is the most disturbing. The current crims are pretty much ones, when I read them, I think “Yeah fair enough”. I notice that things like resisting arrest and drunk driving aren’t on there. I’m sure lawmakers are licking their lips in lewd lacisviousness, dreaming of the wonderful possibillities for speeches about how tough they are on crime.

    Obviously the think-of-the-children brigade, those champions of virtue and morning talkback radio, will find these measures reasonable and visionary, while the rest of us will be dismayed at wasted funds and wasted lives, not neccessarily in that order.

  3. jordanrastrick

    The DNA database stuff is terrifying, because it so easily leads to the Prosecutor’s Fallacy.

    Mental Health has been getting a lot of media attention lately thanks to the likes of McGorrey, Mendoza, Hickie et al, so hopefully that increased awareness will flow on to reforms in the legal system. That will take time, though. Do we have Mental Health Courts yet? Also, its not criminal justice, but Psychiatric Advanced Directives would be awesome…..

    Legal Aid – well, yeah, like I said in the other thread, no votes in spending money for greedy lawyers on evil impoverished criminals. Think-of-the-children-brigade, indeed.

  4. The people who will be most adversely affected by the “whole of job” changes will be the duty lawyers who are already insanely overworked.

  5. It all makes rather good sense really.
    Decreasing the help available for mental health in prisons, not to mention sending badly represented people (mental health problems or not) there in the first place, is a sure way to increase recidivism. As well as increasing the market share in a burgeoning private prison industry, the return visitors will need early detection – possibly even before they commit a crime. DNA databases are a sure fire way of making this possible, likely even.
    Seems like they have their bases covered.

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