Just Reinvest NSW held a roundtable discussion with leading figures from the NSW legal and justice communities to develop a set of strategic proposals for legislative and policy reform to reduce the rising prison population in NSW, with a particular view to addressing the levels of Aboriginal overrepresentation.
With the NSW Government’s announcement that it will spend 3.8billion dollars on 7000 new prison beds, there is much urgency around the issue.
The roundtable was attended by more than 20 delegates, with representatives from the judiciary, the Law Society of NSW, the NSW Bar Association, the Law Council of Australia, the Australian Bar Association, the NSW Legal Aid Commission and the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT, amongst others. Just Reinvest is aiming to develop a shared position of the peak legal bodies who participated and present the proposals to the NSW Government as a set of practical measures that will reduce the prison population, target recidivism, reduce crime, create safer communities and save money.
To develop these proposals, Just Reinvest NSW is collaborating with the Nous Group to determine the highest order opportunities and how best to actualise their implementation.
The discussion started on the basis of key opportunities for legislative and policy reform that have been proposed in recent years to reduce the prison population in NSW. Changing the current parole legislation was of particular interest to all participants, as was providing equal access to diversion, sentencing alternatives, rehabilitation and throughcare. The afternoon was full of dynamic discussion and problem solving.
Just Reinvest NSW will engage key individuals in the NSW Government, Aboriginal peak bodies, key organisations and advocacy groups with the shared position and proposals in the policy paper.
The proposals will then be the subject of a parliamentary forum, bringing all sides of government together early in 2017 to discuss how and why these proposals should be implemented.