Letter to The Age: 30th May 2019

Change Makers in The Legal System
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“After our recent visit from Judges Peggy Hora and Eugene Hyman, talking to us about problem-solving courts in the USA, the announcement by Dan Andrews about prison spending is heading in the wrong direction. Marguerite thinks so anyway. Here’s what she wrote to The Age:”

Focus on early prevention

The Andrews government wants to increase the number of prisoners in Victoria. It plans to do that by increasing spending on prisons and corrections by $1.8 billion. This is in the face of all the research that tells us the money is being spent at the wrong end of the disadvantage spectrum. It’s time to invest in eliminating the factors that lead many people into the criminal justice system, to stop advocating tough-on-crime approaches for electoral popularity, and to look at real change, such as early childhood interventions.

When people do offend, there are thousands of cases that would be much more effectively dealt with in a system of problem-solving courts, than in courts without constructive sentencing options. If conservative US states such as Texas can fund drug courts and close prisons, surely Victoria can follow suit, hopefully for reasons of social justice, but if not, then let’s do it for the money.

Marguerite Picard, Glen Iris

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