Home detention

The State Government’s recently introduced  home detention laws appear to be taking some time to bed themselves in – both with the community, the judiciary and the lawmakers themselves.
State Attorney General John Rau announced earlier this week that the new laws – introduced in September – would be “modified” because judges and magistrates were sentencing people to home detention for crimes considered by many to be too serious.
A total of 30 people have been sentenced to home detention – 16 for driving offences including an inattentive driving case in which three people were killed and another dangerous driving case in which one man was killed.
Other home detention sentences involved drug dealing, fraud and theft.
There are three reasons why home detention laws have been introduced.
One is that jail is often the worst place for a convicted person whose crimes are minor and whose chances of re-offending are virtually non-existent.
The other reason is that the State’s jails are almost at capacity and the third is that it is too expensive for a cash-strapped government to keep a person in prison (almost $100,000 per year) unless it is absolutely necessary.
Home detention for low grade offences can be a good thing but it is clear the law needs revising.
What about community service or is this also too expensive to administer?
It is reasonable to expect a guilty party undertake some form of punishment for their crime.
Many may argue that being forced to stay at home except to travel to and from work is penalty enough but in some cases additional punishment is reasonable.
The Courier reported in October the angst of car crash survivor Timea Dixon whose partner Trevor Bird was killed by another driver near Houghton.
The driver was found guilty of dangerous driving when he crossed onto the wrong side of the road (travelling at 104km/h in an 80km/h zone) and killed Mr Bird. He was sentenced to four years of home detention.
What is Ms Dixon supposed to think?  Her partner is dead and the perpetrator – who had a long history of previous driving offences – is not required to give a single minute of his own time back to the community as punishment.