Victoria’s most violent criminals will be treated the same as the state’s sexual predators when they’re released from jail, under a new regime to be introduced in memory of murdered Melbourne teen Masa Vukotic.
But already there’s a warning that simply “warehousing” the state’s worst offenders won’t prevent tragedies like the brutal 2015 stabbing of Masa, whose death at the hands of Sean Price prompted the Harper review into post-sentence detention and supervision.
The Labor government on Sunday announced it would accept all 35 review recommendations and act on them, starting with an $84 million allocation in Wednesday’s budget.
A huge chunk of that – $54 million – will go to building and operating a new 20-bed centre for the most dangerous offenders who can’t be managed in Victoria’s existing transitional facility, Corella Place, or the community.
It will likely be built next to an existing jail.
“The system failed Masa (and) we made a promise to Masa’s family that we would make these changes,” Acting Premier James Merlino told reporters on Sunday.
“It is unacceptable that we had someone as dangerous as Price out in the community and free to roam.
“If you are a risk to the community you will not be in the community.”
Price, a convicted rapist, murdered 17-year-old Masa Vukotic in March last year while on a supervision order.
He was living in the community because he’d had two separate violent outbursts at Corella Place and couldn’t be returned there.
The Harper review says there’s a need for a “step-up option” for people too disruptive for Corella.
“There is nothing between it and prison, even for residents who are difficult or – at least at times – impossible to manage,” the report, released on Sunday, states.
But Liberty Victoria warns against warehousing offenders.
“These tragic murders will occur and you can’t just keep warehousing people away indefinitely and think that will keep the community safe,” vice president Michael Stanton told AAP.
Liberty Victoria is worried the expansion of the supervision regime to all violent criminals will result in many offenders being targeted – not just the “worst of the worst” as promised by the government – placing a burden on the justice system.
Another recommendation to extend police holding powers from 10 to 72 hours, already included in legislation before parliament, is criticised as there’ll be no judicial review.
Liberty Victoria is less concerned about another proposal for the courts to issue five-day emergency detention orders.
The new post-sentence regime will be overseen by an independent Public Protection Authority which will manage an offender’s case, including rehabilitation efforts, from relatively early during their incarceration.
The Harper review further recommends a new forensic residential disability service for intellectually disabled offenders, and an increase in mental health residential accommodation options.