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Judicial CP - June 2003

The West Australian, Perth, 14 June 2003

Offenders should be humiliated: Barnett

By Steve Butler

YOUNG offenders should be humiliated by being made to wear fluorescent vests and clean up public areas in front of their friends, Opposition Leader Colin Barnett says.

Such a move would help solve the growing problem of youth crime, he says.

This week, One Nation MLC Frank Hough called for the return of capital and corporal punishment.

Mr Barnett said it was clear that the community was frustrated and angry with the slow and lenient justice system and wanted radical change.

His humiliation plan included giving police the power to impose on-the-spot punishments such as wearing fluorescent vests and making offenders clean areas such as beachfronts, schoolyards and aged care homes, supervised and in front of their friends.

Offenders over 16 found guilty in a court would be named and photographs listing the crime and punishment could be published in the media and even shop windows.

Mr Barnett said immediate penalties for lesser crimes, particularly home burglaries, would serve both as instant deterrents and ease pressure in the court system.

The Liberal Party would re-examine its policy on dealing with juvenile offenders.

"Victims want to see offenders paying a price and see penalties being imposed." he said. "At the moment, there is no balance between punishments and offences.

"People want to see justice delivered and they want to see it quickly, so offenders need to be visible. There should be an element of humiliation at the earliest stages of offending and hope the instant justice will shame them into not doing it again.

"It's not cool to be seen to be doing this sort of punishment in front of your mates. It would be the modern equivalent of the police giving you a whack around the ears."

Attorney-General Jim McGinty said Mr Barnett's plan was a populist stunt and one of the Opposition Leader's less helpful contributions to solving the serious problem of juvenile crime.

WA Criminal Lawyers Association president Hylton Quail said it was a ridiculous idea. He believed the court system was working in relation to juvenile crime and justice was generally done.

"Why don't we reintroduce the stocks and throw rotten tomatoes at the offenders?" Mr Quail said.

"It's a ridiculous idea and the Leader of the Opposition should know better."

Lawyer Richard Bayly said he agreed with Mr Barnett's idea in principle but was cautious about its application.

"We can't just have coppers taking boys and girls around the metropolitan area in fluoro green jackets without some sort of authority," Mr Bayly said.

Mr Hough said in the Legislative Council this week that corporal punishment should be made available to courts because treatment of offenders was getting softer.

He said WA's crime rate and a lack of respect for elders had increased substantially because offenders were not being punished appropriately.

"Offenders are not being punished as they should be - the tendency these days is to counsel people," Mr Hough said.

"Counselling is fantastic, but it should be done after people are punished."

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