Flinders forum questions soaring remand rates

South Australia has the highest remand rate in the country. Picture: Shutterstock.
South Australia has the highest remand rate in the country. Picture: Shutterstock.

Is South Australia’s bail system broken? And if so, what can we do about it?

Those will be the key issues discussed at a Flinders University Centre for Crime Policy and Research (CCPR) forum this evening, in response to figures showing that the Festival State has the highest remand rate in Australia.

A panel including Adelaide’s Deputy Chief Magistrate, Dr Andrew Cannon; SAPOL’s Officer in Charge of the Police Prosecutions branch, Superintendent Douglas Barr; and Mangan Ey and Associates Criminal Defence Lawyer, Andrew Ey, will ask whether our courts are granting bail too cautiously, and if police are pursuing breaches of bail conditions too vigorously.

The forum will also look at whether the rights of unconvicted people are being adequately respected in the operation of the current system.

Flinders University’s Professor Mark Halsey, who is one of Australia’s leading experts on corrections and youth offending, will also be on the panel.

He said the forum was an opportunity to advance and inform the thinking and practices behind one of the key public policy issues of the day.

“The first thing to consider is, are we making the right decisions in terms of who gets bail and who doesn’t?,” Professor Halsey said. “That matters because when we get it wrong, we put people behind bars who could safely be left in the community.

“In doing so, we incur significant financial costs for the state, and a range of social costs for the wider community and for the individuals in question and their families.

“Many of these costs may be unnecessary, and there is even research to show that being too over-zealous might encourage reoffending in some cases.

“It’s important to remember that people who are on bail haven’t actually been convicted of anything yet; so should we be so vigorously pursuing things like curfew breaches, or the inability to provide a permanent address, when we may be doing more harm than good?”

For more information on the CCPR’s Is Bail Broken forum, click here.

Flinders University’s CCPR is a leading research centre which provides high quality research and policy advice to the community on crime and the justice system.

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