Killers are walking the streets of Gladstone

MURDER, incest and child sex abuse - Gladstone has a dark and dangerous under-belly.

Our sordid neighbours are revealed as a leading victims' lobby group blasts early prison release for violent criminals.

A special APN investigation shows the region is home to parolees guilty of four murders and one manslaughter.

The Gladstone Probation and Parole office is also managing people who have committed 10 sex offences.

Cases include two of incest, five of child sex abuse and two of rape.

Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group general manager Ross Thompson said early release of killers had a major psychological impact on the family and friends of victims.

"We feel that people should serve their full time if they've committed a very serious offence," Mr Thompson said.

"When people get paroled it makes people very insecure in regards to their own personal safety.

"It may be 16, 18, 20 years down the road when the individual is paroled, but that family (of the victim) again feels the same anxiety as when the crime first happened - they feel threatened ... 'am I going to walk down the street and bump into them?'."

Institute of Criminology researcher Matthew Willis said it was better for prisoners to serve parole than to walk free unsupervised from jail once their prison sentence ended.

"Parole provides a capacity to have someone keep an eye on them and provide counselling, support and other services to help them get back into society."

Number put on parole is growing

THE number of people on parole in the Gladstone region has risen.

There were 223 parolees in the district in the 2013-14 financial year - a rise of 25 on the 2012-13 financial year.

Theft, robbery and stealing - with 243 offences - were the most common areas the Gladstone Probation and Parole office dealt with last financial year.

Drug offences also were common with 148 on the GPP's books.

There were 82 assaults, 75 driving and road rule cases, 63 bail, court order and statutory act breaches and escape or attempt to escape, 30 weapons and two arson cases.

Last year's Productivity Commission report detailed how it costs about $297 per day to keep someone in prison.

A 2014 Australian Institute of Criminology study found that supervised parolees committed fewer offences than those who were released after serving their full sentence.

Legal expert Heather Douglas said Queensland's parole system had some short-comings and that did not bode well for the community.

"The focus on incapacitation through imprisonment is an incredibly short-sighted approach because the best place to learn new tricks of criminal offending is in prison of course," the University of Queensland law professor said.

WHAT THEY DID

The number of offences managed by the Gladstone Probation and Parole office includes:

  • Robbery, break & enter & stealing: 243
  • Drug-related offences: 148
  • Assault & violence: 82
  • Driving & roads: 75
  • Bail, breach, contempt & escape: 63
  • Weapons & explosives: 30
  • Fraud & forgery: 30
  • Sex-assault & related offences: 10
  • Murder & manslaughter: 5
  • Arson: 2
  • Stalking: 1

* Note these are the number of parole offences in the region. A offender may be serving parole on more than one offence.

Source: Department of Justice and Attorney-General.

- APN NEWSDESK



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