Doin Time 3CR Community Radio 855am

In case you missed it, on 30th January, I was a guest again on 3CR’s Community Radio ‘Doin Time’ show with wonderful broadcaster Pete Esan (co broadcaster Marisa Sposaro not far away). Jared Sharp. Jesuit Social Services’ General Manager in the Northern Territory joined us by phone. Jared, formerly a lawyer with the Northern Territory Aboriginal Justice Agency, was featured in ABC TV’s Four Corners investigation into Darwin’s Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, which resulted in the Federal Government establishing a Royal Commission into the Territory’s youth detention and child protection systems.

Given the crisis in Victoria’s Youth Justice system, we talked about the much needed youth justice and adult prison reform in all states and territories. In particular, the need for Elders, mentors, and restorative justice. The role of Elders is vital in youth justice systems where indigenous youth are over represented. We need prisons becoming more like communities, adopting the UK’s User Voice democratic prison council practices. Communities introducing restorative justice and ‘Save Our Streets / SOS gang’s projects with reformed gang members, such as those in practice in the US, UK, Ireland and Sweden.

It is vital to utilize the lived experience of those who have been there before, survived and moved on in life. They are the experts, the ones with the credibility and respect, the ones who can build the trust, inspiration and motivation for those struggling to see how they could live another life, other than crime and revolving detention. Reformed offenders believe in a person’s ability to change – just as they did. As we know, real reform will only commence when governments implement Ombudsman’s’, Royal Commission’s and my Churchill Fellowship research recommendations.

3CR Community Radio 855am

3CR Community Radio 855am

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ANZSOC 2016 Conference ‘Horizon Criminology’ Hobart, Tasmania

The 29th Annual Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC) conference was held in Hobart, Tasmania from 29 November to 2 December 2016. The theme of the 2016 Conference was ‘HORIZON CRIMINOLOGY’; ‘Looking over the horizon there are challenges for criminology and criminal justice requiring innovative interpretations and creative responses to the past, present and future.’ The ANZSOC Conference was officially opened by Her Excellency, Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, AM, Governor of Tasmania. The opening address was delivered by Dr Vanessa Goodwin, Attorney-General, Minister for Justice, Minister for Corrections, Minister for the Arts, Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council.

It was an honour and wonderful opportunity to speak at the conference;. My presentation titled ‘Learning from former prisoners who have gone straight makes sense’, covered key messages from my Churchill Fellowship research. It was terrific meeting many familiar criminology colleagues and making new contacts across the national and international criminal justice world.

ANZSOC Conference 2016

ANZSOC Conference 2016

ANZSOC Conference 2016

ANZSOC Conference 2016

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JusTas Symposium ‘Reintegration: Throughcare to What?’ Hobart, Tasmania

Excellent Symposium held in Tasmania by JusTas titled ‘Reintegration: Throughcare to What? Reducing Crime and Safer Communities’ on 28th November 2016. JusTas is a new group in Tasmania promoting justice, best practice and valuable outcomes for returning citizens and the community. A collaboration between the Salvation Army, University of Tasmania and Australian Red Cross, the Symposium a huge success, attended by many.

It was an honour to be a keynote speaker, many thanks to Keith Hinde, Coordinator Prison Support Program, Australian Red Cross; Grant Herring, Manager of Alcohol, Other Drugs & Corrections, Salvation Army Tasmania Division; and Don McCrae, Team Leader SASH Salvation Army Supported Housing, Street to Home and ITSS Intensive Tenancy Support Service (for Ex-Offenders).

Dinner with JusTas members

Dinner with JusTas members

Facilitated by Grant Herring, the Symposium was officially opened by Dr. Vanessa Goodwin, MLC, Attorney General and Minister for Corrections. Dr. Goodwin also officially launched the group JusTas. On the morning of the Symposium, it was an honour and wonderful opportunity to join Don McCrae in studio on 936 ABC Hobart radio. We were interviewed by Sarah Gillman about JusTas, the Symposium and my Churchill Fellowship keynote address. ICYMI:


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Miss out on Remaking Justice? Watch and listen online.

For those who missed the recent Remaking Justice symposium held at the Wheeler Centre on 25 August 2016, or want a second look at what was discussed, we have now uploaded videos of each presenter a…

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The Churchill Trust’s Annual Report 2015-16 Edition.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust’s Annual Report 2015-16 Edition. It is an honour to be one of the Victorian 50th Anniversary Churchill Fellow’s profiled in the report.

Churchill Fellowship 2015 Annual Report (Courtesy WCMT)

Churchill Fellowship 2015 Annual Report (Courtesy WCMT)

Churchill Trust 2015-16 Annual Report

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Doin Time 3CR Community Radio 855am

In case you missed it, on 19th September, I was a guest again on 3CR’s Community Radio ‘Doin Time’ show with wonderful broadcasters Marisa and Pete. We talked about the much needed prison reform, covering my Churchill Fellowship research; the recent Smart Justice ‘Remaking Justice’ Symposium and the Victorian Ombudsman’s prison rehabilitation and reintegration investigation recommendations. As we know, real reform will only commence when government implements both the Ombudsman’s and my Churchill Fellowship research recommendations.

3CR Community Radio 855am

3CR Community Radio 855am

Doin Time 3CR Community Radio 855am

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‘Uncle Jack Charles returns to prison’, reports Jeremy Story Carter, ABC Radio National journalist.

In case, you missed it, on 13th September, Jeremy Story Carter, ABC Radio National journalist and presenter joined Jack Charles outside the walls of two Victorian prisons in Castlemaine, Middleton and Loddon. Jack Charles was ‘re-entering the prison system that held him 10 years ago’ to mentor and inspire those currently serving their sentence there. A terrific uplifting story that is the epitome of my Churchill Fellowship research. Let us strive for this story to be the start of many! ABC Radio National Law Report

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3AW 693 News Talk: Mornings with Neil Mitchell

In case you missed it, on 1st September I was interviewed in studio by Neil Mitchell on his morning 3AW Melbourne radio program. As the guest for the ‘complex issues’ weekly debate we talked about my Churchill Fellowship research focusing on the role of reformed offenders in reducing re-offending; my professional and lived experience that led me to pursue the research; and the need for prison to ‘do no more harm’ to people who will be released back into the community. Reformed offenders can help people who are struggling to ‘go straight’ turn their lives around. Reformed offenders can inform and lead policy reform. Improving lives enhances community safety. You can listen to the interview via the 3AW Mornings: Neil Mitchell podcasts. It is just after the 10 o’clock news.
3AW Mornings: Neil Mitchell

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‘Victorian prisoners ‘maxing out’ jail sentences’, investigates ABC’s national reporter Josie Taylor.

In case, you missed it. Great story by ABC’s national reporter Josie Taylor, titled, ‘Victorian prisoners ‘maxing out’ jail sentences’, again brilliantly incorporating the views of former prisoners, the experts by experience, the vital valuable lived experience perspective required for critical prison policy reform.

The Victorian Government introduced changes to the assessment, approval and monitoring of parole in response to the murder of ABC employee Jill Meagher by a serial offender who was on parole. Parole has been made harder to get. It is also harder to comply with. In respect for victims of crime, the policy aim was to enhance community safety.

In my opinion the parole changes were an ill-informed knee jerk policy reaction that has created unintended consequences. The parole changes have affected hundreds of people in prison. People who would have otherwise previously been eligible for parole are now choosing to serve their maximum sentence rather than leave gaol early on parole and under supervision. Increasing burden on taxpayers and impacting community safety. Counterproductive policy.

If people leave prison with the unresolved issues that lead to addiction, crime and prison, further compounded by their prison culture experience, they could potentially commit further crime on release. With no parole and supervision, there is no capacity for authorities to foresee and to act. As Arie Frieberg says in the ABC story, ‘If they max out their sentence, that is don’t go under supervision, then we have no control of them at all and the risks are therefore greater’.

My analysis of this story goes deeper than the policy and unintended consequences debate. Josie Taylor’s story is a valuable opportunity to listen to the people interviewed, the people who are directly impacted, and really hear what they are saying. Patrick in the ABC story says, ‘It’s a drug addiction, you know, you’re not working/ You’ve gotta get by. And it becomes a way of life. That’s how we justify what we do. And then that makes us feel a little bit better in our minds. But it’s all wrong isn’t it, to a straight person it’s wrong.’

‘I don’t know how to be straight’, said my former partner to me in a prison Visit Centre. ‘I don’t know how you live the way you live – a drug and crime free life – a normal life’. The catalyst quote that led to me pursuing my Churchill Fellowship project.

If prison, supervision and parole are only ever about control,’the us versus them division’ (User Voice), nothing will change. People need prison programs and community corrections support that actually facilitate positive behaviour change. Personal positive change comes through inspiration, hope, vision, motivation, and self-belief. Personal positive change comes from seeing others who have ‘walked in one’s shoes’ and reformed – ‘gone straight’.

My premise remains. ‘Only Offenders can stop re-offending’ (User Voice). We will only see real reform when my Churchill Fellowship research recommendations are implemented in Victoria and Australia.

Victorian prisoners ‘maxing out’ jail sentences

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Unjust legislative changes means video-links in court all the time

Technology is not the answer to injustice. Justice is. As of 12 September 2016 it will become the default position that all appearances for persons in custody will be done via video-link unless it …

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