Tasmania Law Reform Institute releases report on indefinite detention of dangerous criminals

REVIEW: The Tasmania Law Reform Institute has released a paper examining the indefinite detention of dangerous criminals in the state.

REVIEW: The Tasmania Law Reform Institute has released a paper examining the indefinite detention of dangerous criminals in the state.

Legislation around the indefinite detention of dangerous criminals should be reformed and modernised, according to a new report. 

The paper from the Tasmania Law Reform Institute, released on Wednesday, found Tasmania’s current dangerous criminal legislation needed to be reviewed and brought into line with other states.

Report author Taya Ketelaar-Jones said there was no set definition of a dangerous criminal, but it was often a repeat offender of serious offences. 

“Once an individual has been declared a dangerous criminal, there are a number of barriers to discharge dangerous criminal declarations,” she said. 

“For individuals that are being declared dangerous criminals, it’s really an indefinite detention, as opposed to an indefinite detention subject to review.

“Courts in Tasmania have long had the power to detain prisoners indefinitely, but the Tasmanian dangerous prisoner regime has never been reviewed.” 

She said that in Tasmania, once a declaration was made, the only way an offender was released was if they first lodged an application, differing from other states which offered periodic reviews. 

The paper went on to recommend there be a comprehensive list of factors to be considered by the court when making a decision about a dangerous criminal.

It also recommended that the court should be able to impose both pre- and post-release conditions on discharge of dangerous criminal declarations, and that there should be a system of periodic review.

Prisoners Legal Service chairman Greg Barns, who initially requested the paper, described the current laws as “inhumane” and said he hoped the report would go on to create change. 

Acting Attorney-General Matthew Groom said he would continue to take advice from numerous sources on the potential changes. 

“The government remains committed to updating the state’s dangerous criminal provisions to better protect Tasmanians and this research paper will assist in this process,” Mr Groom said. 

Institute director Terese Henning said laws needed to be reviewed to ensure they instituted the best practice. 

“Our laws need to be maintained in as modern a form as they can be, they also need to be maintained in a form which is uniform with other jurisdictions,” Associate Professor Henning said. 

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