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Sentencing reform vital

9 October 2000 Media Statement

Sentencing reform vital


The Government is addressing the changes needed to detain serious violent offenders like Taffy Hotene through its Sentencing Reform Project, says Minister of Corrections Matt Robson.

Taffy Herbert Hotene was this morning sentenced to life with a non-parole period of 18 years, plus preventive detention.

After the sentencing, Mr Robson released a Department of Corrections report on Hotene's management while in prison and his supervision once released.

"The report raises serious concerns about weaknesses in the sentencing and parole provisions I inherited with this portfolio," said Mr Robson.

The report also highlighted the need for improvements in Departmental procedures, including tightening of case management.

"My job is to look at how targeted laws could make a difference, and that's where our current Sentencing Reform Project is crucial."

"The Government sentencing review is tackling the crux of the issue: strengthening sentencing and parole rules to keep dangerous inmates imprisoned until they are no longer a threat to the community,” said Mr Robson.

Wider use of section 105 (which can override automatic release at two-thirds of a sentence) and of preventive detention are both priorities in the Sentencing Reform Project.

"We need the legal right to keep any offender in prison indefinitely if they pose a serious threat to the community."

"On my instructions, the Department has instigated changes including retraining in Community Probation Service procedures for all staff, a risk assessment review and training for all Psychological Service staff, and better information sharing between the psychologists and the prisons."

The online Integrated Offender Management system now being phased in will also greatly improve the consistency of risk assessment.

However only 24-hour supervision could have prevented this type of reoffending, says Mr Robson.

"After release, Hotene fulfilled all his release conditions. Tragically this was not enough to stop this crime and save a life."

"Our probation service was given an impossible job. Even with the best supervision systems in place, Hotene should never have been released in the first place."

"There is and always will be a core of offenders who pose such a risk to the community that they should be kept in as long as possible. That's recognised by the 124 inmates already sentenced to preventive detention."

"With our Sentencing Reform Project we're working to widen the criteria to ensure such measures covers all the appropriate cases."

Ends

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