Society must ensure our community’s safety – but in the process, we inevitably walk a tightrope to avoid infringing on civil liberties. What can we do to better prevent crime from occurring in the first place? When people are accused of crimes, how can we ensure they are tried fairly and treated justly? And to what extent, if at all, should judges use discretion when they impose sentences?
In this topical event, we’ll examine the social utility of our prison system, whether prisoners have any hope of rehabilitation, and whether parole should be harder for prisoners to obtain. If not paroled, how will prisoners be supported and supervised when they ultimately re-enter the community?
Jane Dixon QC, president of Liberty Victoria, discusses these challenges with a panel of legal experts. The Hon. Robert Clark MP, attorney general of Victoria, has been a strong proponent of sentencing and parole reform. He is joined by the Hon. Justice John Coldrey, current chair of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, and adjunct professor Peter Norden AO, a former chaplain at Pentridge prison and founder of the Brosnan Centre.
Together they will outline their views on how best to ensure community safety, whether the criminal justice system is working, and what prospect offenders have for genuine rehabilitation.
John Coldrey QC is a former justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria. He is currently chairman of the council of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine.
Jane Dixon QC is the President of Liberty Victoria, one of Australia’s leading civil liberties organisations. Jane has practiced at the Victorian Bar for over 20 years.
Robert Clark is the member for Box Hill and is also the attorney-general, Minister for Finance and Minister for Industrial Relations in the Victorian government.
Peter Norden is an adjunct professor at RMIT, and former Catholic chaplain at Pentridge. In 2009, Peter left the priesthood and the church. After decades of service, he no longer identified with the institutional Catholic Church.
He was a vocal critic of the prison system and a strong advocate for prison reform. He worked to expose the oppression that led to the 1987 Jika Jika fire that killed five prisoners, and was required to identify their bodies. Today, he continues his advocacy of criminal and social-justice reform.