Proposed law would see killer-rapist locked up for life
LEGISLATION overhauling the government's ability to lock criminals up for life has been tabled in parliament - and it could have huge consequences for a woman brutally and repeatedly raped by 1980s "psychopath" murderer Jamie John Curtis.
On Tuesday, Attorney-General Elise Archer announced she'd introduced the Dangerous Criminals and High Risk Offenders Bill 2020, aiming to remove the requirement that only a sentencing judge could permanently incarcerate a criminal.
The bill is significant for a number of reasons - but notably for Curtis' rape victim Tameka Ridgeway and the family of her murdered fiance.
Curtis has been locked up in Risdon Prison since 1986, although he was released briefly on parole, after murdering Glenorchy man Dean Allie, raping Ms Ridgeway, and abducting a 15-year-old schoolgirl.
Under current legislation, only his sentencing judge - the now-retired 84-year-old Justice William Cox - could permanently incarcerate Curtis.
The state government has been urgently trying to introduce the new legislation before Curtis manages to convince the Parole Board of Tasmania that he deserves another shot on the outside.
Ms Ridgeway wants Curtis locked up for good, as does Mr Allie's sister.
Ms Archer said in a statement the legislative reforms aimed to "keep dangerous and high-risk offenders off the streets".
But unexpectedly, the Prisoners Legal Service - headed by criminal advocate Greg Barns SC - is also championing the legislative reforms.
He said in a statement the bill also provided easier pathways to revoke dangerous criminal declarations - which he said have until now been "virtually impossible" to remove.
Mr Barns quoted former High Court judge Michael Kirby by saying "such laws as this one are reminiscent of laws passed by the Nazi Government in Germany in the 1930s".
"They detain individuals based on the nature of their character, not facts of a crime proved beyond reasonable doubt," he said.
The proposed legislation also introduces provisions for serious violence and sex offenders to be supervised upon their release from jail.
It also allows dangerous criminal declarations to be made at the time of conviction or sentencing, but also establishes "periodic, mandatory reviews" of those declarations by the Supreme Court of Tasmania.
The bill also allows the court to make pre-release orders for those permanently incarcerated prisoners, giving judges the ability to discharge them on the proviso they participate in rehabilitation, treatment or reintegration programs.
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Proposed legislation could see killer-rapist locked up for life