Weekend Wrap: Expert finds imprisonment rate linked to regressive fines system

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Making news this week, one expert has found that high imprisonment rates in WA could be linked to prison overcrowding and calls for a new fines system; a Victorian funeral home moved to postpone a cremation over a defamation claim and a Gold Coast criminal lawyer was arrested alongside her boyfriend in a major drug bust.

Tomas Fitzgerald, a senior lecture at Notre Dame’s Freemantle law school has found that changing the nature of regressive fines in the justice system could reduce prison rates.  A 2009 administrative change by the Attorney-General relating to persons on community service orders or apprehended violence orders which he said inadvertently captured persons on work development orders as well.

He told Australasian Lawyer that persons undertaking community service rather than paying a court ordered fine are ending up in prison for minor misdemeanours where prison was previously ruled out by a magistrate.

The Victorian Supreme Court was asked to postpone a cremation this week after a funeral home owner claimed the body was evidence in a defamation case he had just filed.

The deceased’s daughter reportedly wrote a defamatory comment on Facebook after switching funeral homes claiming, “the coffin was tiny and I would be amazed if they haven't broken her bones jamming her in there”.

Justice Kim Hargrave refused to stop the cremation hours before the funeral was due to take place.

A Gold Coast criminal lawyer was arrested alongside her boyfriend after a major raid on her home by police.
Briana Ioannides, of Southport criminal law firm Gatenby Lawyers, was arrested after police found two firearms, a loaded sawn-off shotgun and handgun, thousands of dollars in cash and a large quantity of drugs.

She was bailed to face Southport Magistrates Court on December 9.

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