Today’s quarterly custody update from BOCSAR shows a prison population continuing to grow, with no end in sight. This ongoing growth is a clear legacy of the Liberal National Government’s law and order auctions, and a broken bail system that sees almost 5,000 people locked up despite not having been sentenced for any offence.
Greens MP and Justice spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“The 4.2 per cent increase in the last twelve months means another 539 people are locked up in prisons in NSW, despite crime in most categories continuing to fall.
“The broken bail laws are an absolute disgrace, and in the last 12 months alone have resulted in an additional 338 people held on remand.
“This Government is so keen on building private prisons and corporate profits for their big business mates that they’re doing nothing to address these appalling custody numbers.
“It should concern all of us that more people are being held on remand, despite not having been tried for the offence they have been charged with.
“The refusal to release a person on bail is a serious infringement of their right to liberty and goes to the presumption of innocence; it should be reserved for only the most serious cases where the safety of the community is substantially at risk.
“The refusal of bail should be an absolute last resort and be reserved for cases where the safety of the community is at immediate risk. It should not be business as usual in our courts and prisons.
“People held on remand have no access to education or rehabilitation programs, and may be in prison for months or even years awaiting trial.
“In 2013 and 2014 the bail scheme was amended, with big claims this would reduce complexity, the only clear result has been a continued increase in people refused bail.
“The current system is expensive, unfair, and it’s doing little to make our community safer,” Mr Shoebridge said.
The complete March 2018 update is here: http://www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au/Documents/custody/NSW_Custody_Statistics_Mar2018.pdf