I welcome the Spent Convictions Report by the Legal and Social Issues Committee and recognise the impact such a regime could have on the lives of many Victorians, enabling former minor offenders to obtain employment, housing and other services without the stigma of a criminal record.
At a time of rising prisoner recidivism under Daniel Andrews, it’s important to give certain former offenders a fresh start.
However, the report has failed to make clear recommendations about both the time required before a conviction is spent and also the period of potential incarceration that would disqualify an offender from such a scheme. This uncertainty and request for further review from government will simply delay the introduction of any scheme.
The report has not appropriately balanced the risk to the community in recommending that offenders with a potential prison sentence of up to 30 months could qualify for the scheme and also that the qualifying period before the convictions is spent could be as little as 5 years for adults.
Comments attributable to Shadow Attorney General, Edward O’Donohue:
“The introduction of a spent convictions scheme is overdue in Victoria. Such a scheme could help former offenders get on with their lives free of the stigma of a criminal conviction, however any scheme must balance the risk to the community with the benefit to the former offender.
Without access to relevant information from government or Victoria Police, Victoria should adopt a conservative risk based approach to who qualifies for such a scheme. Consistent with the New South Wales approach for adults, only certain offences with a maximum jail time of six months or less, following a 10 year crime free period (5 years for juveniles), should be considered.”