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Intensive Correction Orders are the latest sentencing option in our criminal courts, with the ACT following NSW in adopting them – but with a quite different regime.
ICOs are a “last resort” after a decision has been made that the traditional “last resort” of sending a person to prison has been taken.
A court has to first decide that a matter warrants a prison term – and then it decides whether that might be serviced by way of ICO.
As the name implies, they are intensive, with community service ordered to be served at a specified rate and with various programs to be completed, all the while under the close supervision of Corrective Services.
In NSW, an ICO can be used only if a person is sentenced to no more than two years’ imprisonment.
But in the ACT that can be extended to up to four years – but only if the court considers it appropriate “having regard to the level of harm to the victim and the community caused by the offence, whether the offender poses a risk to other people or the community, and the offender’s culpability for the offence having regard to all the circumstances”, according to Justice Richard Refshauge of the ACT Supreme Court in a recent judgment.
His Honour explained the way ICOs operate in Canberra.
“It is punitive while still incorporating elements of rehabilitation,” he said, noting that ICOs were supposed to promote simultaneously the best interests of the community and the best interests of the offender and his or her dependents.
“Such a sentencing disposition is clearly more lenient than full-time custody but it is a sentence of imprisonment to be serviced in the community,” His Honour said.
The controls that can be placed on someone sentenced to an ICO are manifold, including direction as to where to reside, restrictions on movement (particularly interstate) and subjugation to treatment programs, both medical and psychological.
Critically, His Honour noted that an assessment report is done by Corrective Services experts about whether an offender is suitable for an ICO and he found “it would be inappropriate for a court, and probably unfair to the offender” for an ICO not to be made when the assessment was suitable.
These comments came when His Honour was sentencing a man to three and a half years’ prison for Recklessly Inflicting Grievous Bodily Harm. He ruled it could be served by way of ICO.
Knowing the sentencing practice and procedure in a cross-border area can be crucial to the outcome of your criminal-law case.
The team at Armstrong Legal practice in the courts of the ACT and NSW on a daily basis.
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