Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Should we feel sorry for a violent habitual criminal?
Clearly, the justice system has done nothing to protect us from him so I think that the rational thing to do is to hang him and thus rid society of the menace and cost that he imposes on the rest of us. But that is not the way, these days.
The next best option would be to detain him in prison indefinitely. He should certainly not be let out. He will reoffend if he is. The third strategy would be to condition him into better behaviour. It is a lot of work but could have at least some success.
A rough outline of the therapy:
What you do is to deprive him of food for 48 hours to make him keen to co-operate. Then do it again every time he behaves badly. He will soon get the message. Give him only 1,000 calories in any 24 hours. That will keep him alive but will also keep him keen to co-operate. He will learn rapidly. If he does not he could be deprived of food for a week, thus making him too weak to be a problem and much more likely to co-operate. Thereafter require positive deeds from him for his food. And so on.
HE WAS a football-loving teenager who ended up committing a 24-hour crime spree while high on ice, and now shocking photographs of him restrained and wearing a “spit hood” in juvenile detention have gone around the world.
For Dylan Voller, the Alice Springs teenager whose mistreatment in a Northern Territory juvenile facility will now become part of a royal commission into indigenous youth custody, the trauma is not over.
A Northern Territory youth worker who knows and has cared for Voller in the past said the teen, who is now 19, “has been in and out of trouble, needs to get serious counselling and it needs to be funded by the government”.
“It’s no easy journey for Dylan,” the youth worker said. “If a boy commits a crime, I’m not saying they don’t have to face the music, but where’s the duty of care? They need a place where they can be safe.”
Dylan’s sister Kira said that her brother “deserves his life back” and had “lost everything". Ms Voller said her brother had “lost hope”.
“The last time I went to visit him there was no smile, there was no emotion, there was nothing, I couldn’t give him anything to be positive about and that really broke me,” Ms Voller said.
“I want him to know he’s still a person and people still love him and he still has hope for a life.
Four Corners reported that on two occasions after he was found in his cell crying, guards grabbed Dylan Voller around the neck, stripped him naked and held him down. Picture: ABCSource:ABC
“He’s been in and out of jail from the age of 11, 10,” Kira told ABC radio. “That’s half of his whole life.”
Just four years ago, Dylan Voller was photographed calmly sitting on the grass with his friend Leighton at a Saturday rugby grand final match in Alice Springs.
But the young teenager had a troubled past.
The youth worker told news.com.au that the then 14-year-old had “underlying trauma” and had been in trouble with the NT Police as a juvenile.
A youth justice advocacy project worker had reported that Voller had suffered “anger issues” and had a “propensity to spit”.
Then on February 7, 2014, Voller got drunk and “high on ice” and with two other young men went on a 24-hour crime spree, attacking two men and a police officer.
It was during his incarceration following being found guilty for this series of incidents that Voller was placed in restraints and the spit hood in the now infamous Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin.
ABC-TV’s Four Corners showed images of Voller hooded and strapped into a mechanical restraint chair for almost two hours in March 2015, when he was serving a total of two years and three months’ minimum sentence.
The report on Voller and other boys’ disturbing detention has seen the first scalp claimed.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles this afternoon announced he had removed John Elferink as Corrections Minister, installing himself in the role.
Voller’s spree began in Alice Spring’s iconic Todd Street, where he and the two other young men tried to rob a man walking to work.
A court later heard that Voller, then a slightly built teen, ran bare-chested at the man, yelling “you fat white racist dog. You yelled at us”.
The three teens took the man’s wallet, knocked him to the pavement and kicked him in the ribs.
Still high on drugs the following day, the boys ambushed Luke McIntyre near a store where the 17-year-old was trying to buy cigarettes.
Voller struck him with a mop handle, punched him in the face and stole his wallet. McIntyre was bashed unconscious, then his three assailants fled in a Holden Commodore.
Voller was behind the wheel and tried to run down a “terrified” Constable Gerard Reardon who had ordered the trio to stop.
On August 13, 2014, Northern Territory Supreme Court Justice Peter Barr sentenced Voller to a maximum of three years and eight months for attempted robbery, aggravated robbery and recklessly endangering serious harm.
Voller, who was already in custody, had a 20 month non-parole period to serve. Justice Barr noted that the 16-year-old had a very troubled past, dating back to when he was an 11-year-old and had committed more than 50 offences, including crimes of violence, over five years.
Placed in custody in the Don Dale centre, Voller was regarded as a “notorious” juvenile prisoner.
The ABC reported that he was subjected to a “catalogue ... of abuse” in detention centres in Darwin and Alice Springs over the last five years.
Four Corners reported that on two occasions after he was found in his cell crying, guards grabbed Dylan Voller around the neck, stripped him naked and held him down.
CCTV footage obtained by the ABC show prison officers tear gassing male juvenile prisoners following a “riot” at Don Dale centre in August 2014.
Voller’s sister Kira said she held the guards responsible for her brothers’ behaviour, and she wanted to see the law permitting the use of mechanical restraints overturned.
“What I’d really like to see is ... for them to take accountability for the fact that they damaged him a lot more than helped,” she said.
“These people are already full-grown adults and made the decision to harm that child while they were working,” she said. “The government gave them that responsibility, to care for these kids, and instead they abused that role.”
A Northern Territory youth worker told news.com.au that an alternative safe centre for juvenile offenders had been all but abandoned during successive NT governments due to pressure from child protection workers.
“I’ve seen kids who have been stabbed or contracted sexually transmitted diseases in custody,” he said. “They need protection, not abuse.”
Pauline Hanson says Malcolm Turnbull 'very gracious' during face-to-face meeting
Pauline Hanson has posted a video on Facebook recording her first face-to-face meeting with Malcolm Turnbull since the election, telling supporters the prime minister was “very gracious” and opened with congratulations on her election victory, “which I appreciated”.
The meeting, which was not telegraphed by the prime minister’s office – unlike some previous meetings with key crossbenchers since the election – took place in Sydney on Monday at Turnbull’s behest, according to the One Nation leader.
In her Facebook video, Hanson says she “did most of the talking”.
In late May, Turnbull declared Hanson was not a welcome presence on the Australian political scene. “Remember she was chucked out of the Liberal party,” the prime minister said.
Hanson says in her video she could have confronted Turnbull directly about the rebuff, but chose not to. “You’re probably wondering, did I say to him, ‘you’re the man who said I wasn’t welcome there’. The answer is no,” she said.
The One Nation leader said the prime minister had appeared “very interested in my opinion” and had offered her the services of his ministers in the new parliament.
Hanson said she had raised issues relating to north Queensland during their conversation, such as the motor sport precinct, dredging in the port of Cairns, her party’s youth apprenticeship policy and her desire to make changes to the family court.
“I feel he’s prepared to listen to me,” she said.
Hanson told supporters on Facebook she believed One Nation would have four Senators in the 45th parliament once the election results were finally declared.
In the thread under the video an argument broke out among One Nation supporters about whether Hanson should be dealing constructively with the prime minister or not.
Hanson, or a Hanson operative, intervened in the thread to say: “Without a clear communication line between my office and the prime minister ... we achieve nothing. It’s very important that we work together to achieve what’s best for this country.
“I also mentioned to the prime minister that I will only back legislation that is good for the people. Help me make sure that any legislation put before the Senate is right for the people. If it’s not, we won’t support it.”
The Coalition has also been attempting to walk a line between validating Hanson’s electoral mandate and rejecting her extreme views on race, immigration and Islam.
On the weekend, the government’s Senate leader, George Brandis, noted half a million Australians voted for One Nation. “She’s now a member of the Senate. The way to deal with these people is to explain why they are wrong,” Brandis told the ABC.
“To pretend that Pauline Hanson is not part of the national conversation ... is ludicrous.”
Malcolm Turnbull to bring in new laws allowing indefinite jail for high-risk terrorists
Malcolm Turnbull will introduce new national laws that would allow jailed terrorists who still pose a risk when their prison terms expire to be held indefinitely as his first order of business when Parliament resumes at the end of August.
Mr Turnbull spoke with state and territory leaders on Sunday to inform them of his plans which he said needed to be dealt with urgently in the context of recent attacks in Orlando and Nice.
Australian anti-terror authorities are constantly updating their understanding of terrorism says Attorney-General George Brandis. Vision ABC News 24.
The new laws, which were first agreed to in April, would effectively treat high-risk terrorists the same as paedophiles and extreme violent offenders who, in certain cases, can already be held as a purely preventative measure after serving jail time.
Any extended detention period would be supervised by the courts, but legal groups have previously expressed "serious concern" about the new laws.
The laws are meant to address key concerns of police and security agencies about convicted terrorists from the post-September 11 era who are due to be released in coming years.
"This is a significant public safety and security issue and our governments must do all we can to protect the community from individuals posing a high risk of re-offending and/or those in need of continued rehabilitation," Mr Turnbull wrote in a letter sent to state and territory leaders.
"The guiding principles of a post-sentence preventative detention scheme would be that it cover high-risk terrorist offenders and contain appropriate procedural protections and safeguards."
Mr Turnbull has asked the Attorney-General, George Brandis, to meet with his state and territory counterparts this week in order to swiftly finalise the legislation in time for the return of Parliament.
The move follows Mr Turnbull's directive to Australia's counter-terrorism tzar last week to explore whether potential "lone wolf" terrorists can be better identified by closer agency co-operation and information-sharing on extremism, criminality and mental illness.
The national counter-terrorism coordinator, Greg Moriarty, will examine the trend whereby people who were apparently disturbed to begin with have seized on Islamist extremism shortly prior to carrying out atrocities.
Mr Moriarty said social cohesion with Muslim communities remained central to tackling terrorism. Australia needed an approach that would keep the country "both secure and united, not just for tomorrow or next year, but for decades and possibly generations".
State and territory leaders agreed to the new detention laws in April but the intervening election campaign and caretaker period resulted in a three-month pause in acting on them.
At the time, concerns were raised by members of the legal community.
University of NSW law professor George Williams said that post-sentence detention could be justified in cases of risk to the public, but needed to be strictly targeted and used only as a last resort.
"This is an extraordinary measure to take and can only be justified in the most exceptional cases," Professor Williams said in April.
"The person should be held only as long as they were shown to pose a risk, and the thresholds for risk should be set at a high level. We have to make sure there isn't just a vague risk to the community but a present, real danger."
The Law Council of Australia also said the plan was a "serious concern".
Fiona McLeod, president elect of the Law Council of Australia, said in April that the involvement of a judge was "a protection" but emphasised that if the judge was working on the basis of information given by government agencies "there needs to be a mechanism for the review of that as soon as possible".
Separately, the NSW government is going ahead with plans to extend to up to 14 days the length of time a terrorism suspect can be held before they are charged. Other states and territories have agreed to look at those laws with a view to adopting them, save for the ACT, which is "reserving its position".
The change to the NSW Terrorist (Police Powers) Act allows for the arrest, detention and questioning of a person if there are "reasonable grounds for suspecting that the person has committed, or is involved in planning, a terrorist act".
A suspect could be held for four days, extended to 14 days with the approval of a judge.
Turnbull Government embarks on radical welfare overhaul
The Turnbull government will embark on a radical welfare experiment during the current parliament that aims to use the power of big data to cut the number of people on welfare through targeted interventions in their lives.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter says that while the initiative should bring long-term savings, his immediate task is to get a raft of legislative changes – including budget measures – through the Parliament. He plans to begin talking to Labor and the Senate crossbench about the proposals this week.
To help the ease the passage of some of these measures, the government will be promoting many of its more recent budget cuts to the Senate cross bench– unlike the hangover of the 2014 so-called Zombie cuts – as savings that will be specifically earmarked to go into a national savings account to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Cutting access to compensation for the carbon tax to new welfare recipients – a $1.4 billion measure from the May budget – is the biggest potential deposit into that account, Mr Porter says.
However, Mr Porter says that implementing the so-called "investment approach" to welfare will be the "single most important thing" that he does during the new parliamentary term.
"This will radically change the way any sensible government approaches welfare policy", Mr Porter told The Australian Financial Review.
The investment approach to welfare is heavily based on work done by the Key government in New Zealand and was also a recommendation of the review of Australia's welfare system – the McClure Review – which was handed down in 2015.
It essentially argues the case for front-loaded investment in people, particularly the young, identified as at risk of falling in to, or staying in the welfare system and providing highly targeted interventions to stop that happening.
The 2015 budget provided $34 million to develop the new system and fund longitudinal surveys to provide the data to support the approach.
These longitudinal surveys have been looking back into the history of social welfare recipients over decades in search of patterns and data that predict what will happen to them over the course of their lives.
An actuarial study by PwC is due with Mr Porter in the next couple of months but he says the preliminary data is promising.
"Most governments have looked at spending growth as a budgetary problem," he says.
"It has been looked at globally." That is, it has been looked at in terms of the overall design of a program rather than how it may play out in the varied lives of its recipients.
However new information systems change that, he says.
"We can do the equivalent of keyhole surgery – drill down to groups of 500, 1500, or 15,000 people, identify the risks that get them into the welfare system and tailor policies to divert them away or if they have become dependent, get them out of the system."
For example, he says, new systems can track over a long period what happens to people receiving student assistance. The government will be able to see how many people stay on the benefit and for how long, and how many transition in to work or other benefits.
For example, he says, the system could allow the government to look at what happens to 16-22 year olds in Newcastle versus those living in Geelong and, based on that data, apply very specific outcomes for the two groups.
"It moves the social welfare debate away from being seen as an economic cost to being a moral issue," he says.
The investment approach has been used in New Zealand for five years, with the government claiming major improvements in welfare outcomes – getting people out of the welfare system – and in budgetary cost projections in the longer term.
Actuarial reports in NZ show particularly good outcomes for single parents and young people, largely from active case management of part-time work obligations for single parents with school-aged children.
But the approach is not without its critics both here and in New Zealand and many of these cite potentially "perverse" effects from the approach, including the NZ Productivity Commission.
The Australian Council of Social Service has expressed its concern that this approach is biased towards investment in young people and could lead to less assistance for older unemployed people .
The new levels of data – about different cohorts across the country – will be able to openly accessed, meaning non-government organisations, think tanks and other groups will be able to look in detail at what is happening across the country.
Non-government agencies will then able to bid for some of the funds in the $96 million "Try, Test and Learn" Fund announced in the May budget to develop and run programs designed to help keep people at risk of long-term dependency from being trapped in the system.
Mr Porter says the government is also keen to implement the central recommendations of the McClure report which were to radically overhaul and simplify the multitude of welfare payments and supplements.
However, these will require the legislative support of the Senate and are likely to have to await the resolution of existing budget stand offs on the welfare budget.
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