Do you think that Dangerous Prisoners Legislation which allows the further detention of prisoners based upon their risk of committing further crimes is justified or unjustified?

Essay by leedixonUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, June 2004

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The new Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act (2003) In Queensland permits prisoners to be kept in prison beyond their release date where a court finds that there is a 'high degree of probability' that they represent a 'serious danger to the community'. Other jurisdictions have enacted similar legislation to restrict the release of prisoners assessed to be dangerous. Do you think that dangerousness legislation of this sort is justified or unjustified?

Several states across the Country have enacted or attempted to enact legislation which can enable detention of a prisoner past his/her release date. This type of legislation's general purpose is to provide a mechanism whereby prisoners who, if released pose an unacceptable risk of committing further serious offences, may be detained where it is deemed appropriate to do so for the protection of the community (Field, 2003). The most recent of these being the Queensland Government's passing of the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003.

Similar laws were introduced in New South Wales in 1994, however they were ultimately ruled invalid by the High Court. Prior to this in 1991 Victoria enacted legislation known as the Community Protection Act 1990, which allowed for the continued detention of one prisoner known as Garry David. Whilst this Act applied to no one else the Victorian Government attempted to broaden the legislation with Draft Bill proposals which ultimately lapse in the face of wide ranging criticism from lawyer, psychiatrists and academics. (Greig 1995)

This type of legislation has been devised to allow for the detention of people based upon assessments of risk of re-offending, this essay will explore the concerns with these practices. This essay further aims to explore the moral and practical implications of such sentencing provisions and the impact it has on the whole Justice System.