Smart Justice News


October 04, 2013

New Victorian Crime Stats Agency welcomed, but independence questioned

Funding for Victoria’s new Crime Statistics Agency is welcome, but Michelle McDonnell, the Smart Justice spokesperson for the Federation of Community Legal Centres, has questioned the independence of the body in light of today’s advertisement for a chief statistician to lead it. Details so far announced suggest the agency will fail to fulfil the true independence flagged in the initial announcement, which now appears to have been qualified in several aspects.


September 17, 2013

Ravenhall prison expansion is planning for the wrong future

The Victorian Government’s announcement of plans to double the capacity of the new Ravenhall prison to 1000 beds is planning for the wrong future and risks reducing community safety rather than improving it, according to Smart Justice, a coalition of community organisations led by the Federation of Community Legal Centres.


September 02, 2013

$10.7m for prison consultancies should have gone to tackling the causes of crime, says Smart Justice

The $10.7 million in consultancies reported to have been spent on developing the new 500-bed Ravenhall private prison would have been far better spent on tackling the causes of crime, according to Smart Justice, a coalition of 27 organisations led by the Federation of Community Legal Centres.


August 23, 2013

Parole changes spark urgent public debate

With this week’s release of the Callinan Review of the parole system in Victoria, and State Coroner Ian Gray ordering the release of Professor Ogloff’s 2011 Review of parolee reoffending by way of murder and the Consolidated response to reviews of offenders charged with murder (both redacted), there has been vigorous public debate about the value of parole and its contribution to community safety.


July 04, 2013

Parole in the news

The reporting of high profile crimes in Victoria and elsewhere has led to widespread coverage of parole in the Australian media. The parole system has been questioned, and “tougher” measures brought in consistent with the prevailing law-and-order agenda. But do reactive changes resulting from exceptional cases lead to positive law reform, and does the tightening of parole to target high-risk offenders risk a wider impact that undermines the rehabilitation benefits for a broader group of offenders who pose a low risk to community safety?


July 03, 2013

Smart Justice in the media

Smart Justice works to promote coverage of evidence-based justice policies in the media, and to support our partners in progressing the Smart Justice campaign.


July 03, 2013

Double-bunking shows urgent need to reduce prison demand

On Tuesday 2 July 2013, The Age reported on plans to increase double-bunking in Victoria’s Barwon Prison and Melbourne Assessment Prison amid concerns regarding increased violence, overcrowding in police cells, and pressure in a prison system experiencing marked population growth. Today a response by the Federation of Community Legal Centres was published in the Letters pages.


May 07, 2013

Community safety not served by Budget prison boost

The 2013–2014 Victorian State Budget has again focused on extending the prison system – an expensive approach to crime that will fail to boost community safety and will divert urgently needed funds from programs addressing the causes of crime, according to Smart Justice, a coalition of organisations led by the Federation of Community Legal Centres.

“In tight economic conditions, there are far better investments in community safety than $131.5 million for 357 new prison beds and a new 40-bed high-security unit at Barwon Prison. We need to invest in alternatives to prison that address the causes of crime, reduce offending, and do not contribute to a spiralling prison population that hardens criminals and is economically unsustainable,” said Smart Justice spokesperson, Michelle McDonnell, today.

The expenditure comes on top of $819 million prison funding announced last year.

“With a commitment to ever-increasing surpluses and continuing strong growth in prison expenditure, we know that it will be the social programs that address the causes of crime that will lose out, together with community safety,” McDonnell said.

Smart Justice welcomed the announcement of $8.4 million for a Crime Statistics Agency as it is potentially one way of gathering the independent evidence that increased spending on prisons does not work to reduce crime. The project also welcomed $16.5 million over four years to expand victim support through the extension of a hotline service and counselling, though a greater focus on victim support was still needed, McDonnell noted.

“Together with $31.8 million for new and refurbished police stations, this is a lop-sided justice budget with the investment at the wrong end. We need to target early intervention and prevention instead of housing the consequences of a failed system in prisons,” McDonnell concluded.

For interview:
Michelle McDonnell 0488 778 099

For media information:
Darren Lewin-Hill 0488 773 535


March 26, 2013

Ombudsman scathing of increasing risk of death and self-harm in Victoria’s overcrowded prisons

Findings from the Victorian Ombudsman’s investigation into deaths in custody tabled in Parliament today offer a scathing assessment and an urgent warning of the consequences of further unchecked prison overcrowding, according to Smart Justice, a coalition of 29 organisations led by the Federation of Community Legal Centres.


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