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The Queensland state government is trialling a new court which gives bail to offenders if they take steps to make changes in their lives. Failure to attend services or complete rehabilitation as ordered by Queensland Courts Referral (QCR) can result in them serving in prison or being fined.
The controversial program has concerned Legal Aid solicitors and some private lawyers, who believe some of the state's most vulnerable could be punished twice.
Criminal Lawyer, Glen Cranny, said the stakeholders had been alerted to the trial by factsheets and a briefing. Mr Cranny said the court was attempting to fill the gap of the drug and specialised courts, which had been scrapped by the Newman Government. The trial, which has no end date, has heard the cases of 52 offenders, who volunteered to participate in the new court after being referred by a QCR facilitator. It is run at Roma St and Brisbane Magistrates courts and links offenders to Queensland Health programs and not-for-profit organisations.
Attorney-General, Jarrod Bleijie, said the program was not offered to serious offenders. 'It addresses the needs of people with drug and alcohol dependency, mental illness, intellectual disability, cognitive impairment and homelessness. In conjunction with Queensland Health and non-government agencies, some defendants can be referred to a range of rehab and intervention programs as part of their bail conditions. Eligible offenders can also be sent to drug diversion programs, which give them a chance to address their problems by attending drug assessment and education sessions. It's about getting them help immediately and breaking the revolving door cycle,' Mr Bleiji said.
If an offender fails to attend appointments, displays a "poor attitude'' to service providers or fails to participate in programs, they can be charged with a further criminal offence of breach of bail.
Source: Courier Mail