Rehabilitation for petty crime

MINOR criminals will now be forced to undergo rehabilitation under strict supervision in the community after new State Government legislation passed by parliament this week.

The initiative, proposed by the Labor Government and supported by the Opposition, aims to stop petty criminals falling into a downward spiral of repeat offences and a life of crime.

New South Wales Attorney General John Hatzistergos said particularly important were innovative new sentencing options, known as intensive correction orders, passed through the Legislative Assembly with bipartisan support this week.

The Crimes Amendment Bill 2010 will institute a new sentencing option for the judiciary for convicted criminals facing custodial terms of no more than two years.

The orders will not be available for serious sex offenders and criminals who would otherwise receive a jail term of more than two years.

Corrective Services Minister Phil Costa said intensive correction orders could last up to two years and would involve intense supervision in the community, community service work, and mandatory participation in rehabilitation and education programs.

“Offenders can be forced to wear electronic anklets, observe strict curfews, undergo regular drug testing and, in some cases, be prohibited from consuming any alcohol,” Mr Costa said.

The New South Wales Government state plan outlines a target to reduce reoffending by 10 per cent by 2016.

The 2010-11 Budget increases investment in court rehabilitation and diversionary programs by 13 per cent to $26.7 million as part of the drive to keep crime rates low, he said.

The government will invest $144 million in Corrective Services’ rehabilitation programs.

The new legislation will also repeal weekend detention following recommendations from the New South Wales Sentencing Council and calls for its abolition from victims of crime.

The new intensive correction orders will be progressively rolled out across the state by early 2011.

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