A COALITION Government would spend more on prisoner rehabilitation and outreach projects rather than simply jailing them at the taxpayers’ expense, shadow attorney-general Greg Smith says.
The Epping MP said rehabilitation projects generally cost the taxpayer less than enforcing prison sentences for relatively minor crimes - and often gave better results.
“I would be looking at beefing up rehabilitation programs and support services, we know that the expenses for keeping people in custody is expensive - we’re talking $1 billion a year,” he said.
“The courts themselves, the DPP and legal services need greater support from the government, the State Government has not been particularly supportive of our legal services.
“Extra funding for these projects is just one aspect, courts also need the support of their government to operate effectively.”
Last June the Keneally Government rolled out new sentencing legislation that included mandatory participation in rehabilitation and education programs and random breath and urine tests. Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said the program was aimed at cutting reoffending by 10 per cent by 2016.
Mr Smith, who became a public prosecutor in 1987 and was deputy director of public prosecution for the Supreme Court of NSW, has previously criticised the program for putting added pressure on probation and parole officers.
Long tipped to take the Attorney General’s job if Labor is defeated in March, he said his legal background made him a solid pick.
“Ultimately, it’s up to the leaders but I’m quietly confident,” he said. “And I think that’s appropriate.”