Life Prisoners Protest
Media Release October 29, 2015
Six prisoners on total life sentences never to be released have written a Submission to the NSW Legislative Council in response to an Inquiry into current practices for determining the Security Classification and Management of Prisoners Sentenced to Life Imprisonment. There will be public hearings on the matter on the 23rd and 27th of November.
The inquiry proposes the punishment and exclusion of prisoners more severe than ever before. Holding prisoners under deliberately destructive, high security conditions for the rest of their lives, denying them access to rehabilitation services that could help them learn and improve, potentially reduces them to a status of ‘living dead’.
Justice Action’s submission emphasises the importance of the Rule of Law in sentencing in order to ensure the key principles of hope, rehabilitation, reconciliation and the privacy and victims are upheld.
The inquiry has been established due to community concerns, garnered by media exposure of a victim’s grief regarding Minister David Elliott’s decision to lower the security status of inmates on total life sentences. Following a broadcast of the story on A Current Affair, Minister Elliott revoked the reclassification. It politicises grief and encourages an increase in the involvement of victims and the rest of the community in determining the sentencing of the accused.
The goal of the government is not to honour victim’s wishes but to gain political benefits from grief. Victim’s needs are being assessed through the scope of punishment for the offender. In 2013 the government reduced victim compensation for sexual assault from $50,000 to $15,000, attempting to placate victims with harsher penalties for the accused but failing to be responsive to victims’ personal needs.