New law pushes for full jail term
TERRORISTS, sex offenders and drug traffickers will have to serve their full jail terms in a dramatic federal intervention to stop the Victorian government discounting sentences because of the pandemic.
Attorney-general Michaelia Cash warns community safety has been put at risk in Victoria by authorities wiping hundreds of days off the sentences of prisoners locked up under tougher conditions during Covid.
The federal government is now moving to rip up laws that allow state governments to determine sentence reductions for prisoners jailed over federal offences.
This would halt the early release of more than 380 criminals, including Islamic State sympathiser Khaled Temssah, who received a massive discount while on remand before he was sentenced this month over his plan to fight in the Isis-claimed province of Kashmir.
But a child sex offender with an extensive criminal record across three states and a history of breaching community-based orders already walked free last month, after he had more than 300 days wiped off his sentence of three years and one month.
Victoria is the only state that hands out “emergency management days” to compensate prisoners for disruptions where they are confined to their cells.
Senator Cash said it should be “same crime, same time” for federal prisoners, regardless of where they were locked up.
“It is incredible that of the few people in Victoria to personally benefit from lockdowns, it is those in high security prisons, convicted of terrible crimes,” she said.
In June, it was revealed that Adam Brookman – who admitted aiding foreign fighters in Syria – was released hours after he was sentenced, forcing federal authorities to scramble to secure a control order amid warnings about his failure to complete a deradicalisation program.
Brookman had the remaining nine months on his sentence of six years and eight months wiped, prompting Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews to blast the state government’s “policy failure” and demand immediate action to ensure more prisoners did not walk free.
The state government has since stopped automatically discounting the sentences of offenders who may be subject to post-sentence orders, including violent extremists, which Ms Andrews said was a “step in the right direction”.
But the federal government is still pushing for legislative changes that would reverse any discounts given to prisoners currently behind bars.
This would cancel more than 1000 days taken off the combined sentences handed to five offenders convicted of preparing for a terrorist act.
Victorian Corrections Minister Natalie Hutchins said the state government would consider the proposed laws and work with the federal government “to protect Victorians from terrorism and violent extremism”. But the federal changes will not reverse discounts given to prisoners jailed on state offences.
It was revealed earlier this year that almost 5000 convicted criminals would be released early in Victoria, with a combined total of 355 years shaved from their sentences because of the pandemic.