Murri court axed to save millions
THE State Government will close the Murri, Drug and Special Circumstances courts, stating it expects to save $35.7 million over four years.
Ipswich Children of the Dreaming spokeswoman Rosemary Connors said the Murri Court would wrap up at the end of December and expected the number of people to end up in jail to skyrocket.
"It's pretty much devastating," Mrs Connors said. "The cost to run the Murri Court bail program is a quarter of the cost of sending an offender to prison."
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said the decision to stop funding the Murri Court program was made because it was not working effectively.
"The Murri Court was not delivering consistent results and did not justify the amount being spent to keep it operating," he said.
"The program was not reducing imprisonment rates for indigenous offenders and has not stopped recidivism in the short term.
"This is because many offenders return to their communities where they are exposed to the same levels of unemployment and drug and alcohol use.
"We are making the hard decisions to cut government spending so we can stabilise the debt.
"The only alternative is to put up government fees and charges."
Last week, during a Murri Court sitting, Magistrate Matthew McLaughlin praised the program as generating positive results.
Queensland Law Society president Dr John de Groot said the calculations may be based on a false economy and the outcome of the move may end up costing Queenslanders far more than the government's expected savings.
"Diversionary courts like the Murri, Special Circumstances and the Drug courts play an important role in rehabilitating offenders, reducing the rate of crime and creating considerable long-term cost savings for the community," Dr de Groot said.
"Dollars aside, this move by the government also raises serious justice issues.
"We would agree that there is no quick fix for mental health issues, rehabilitating those with drug dependencies or supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to break out of the cycle of crime. It takes time, perseverance, innovation and political will," he said.