Friday, November 8, 2013
The government's revolution of Victorian justice has made a bad situation worse.
Before the November 2010 election, the Liberal opposition said Victoria's justice system had all but collapsed. ''No civilised society should tolerate being eaten from within by the cancer of sickening violence,'' said the normally under-stated Ted Baillieu. Victorians were ''sick of living in fear''. It was time to ''clean up our streets''.
Three years on, it seems that Victoria's justice system has indeed all but collapsed. The police, hard to dismiss as bleeding heart lefties, say ''enough's enough'' - their union says about 1500 police shifts a week are being used to supervise prisoners in police cells because of overcrowded jails.
The courts are revolting. Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Warren has estimated that criminal cases going through the courts have increased by 25 per cent. Our prisons are overcrowded, prisons ''incidents'' are rising, and the rate at which we jail people is soaring.
Then it gets somewhat farcical. Corrections Victoria is failing to deliver accused people to court for the embarrassingly prosaic reason that there's not enough room in the court cells to hold them. So defendants don't turn up, a waste of time and money. Magistrate Michelle Erlich thundered recently that the impact of the crisis was now ''beyond my level of tolerance'' as yet another defendant failed to show.