What does the gentrified Southern Highlands town of Bowral have in common with the NSW Prison system?
Not much you would think … unless Laura Ashley were to produce a new range of conservatory cushions with an edgy jacquard of black arrows.
If you thought the nearby historic Berrima Jail might be part of the answer you would be wrong but correct if you guessed both Bowral and the NSW prison system share the same population.
That’s right the cells are bulging –and they can’t build new ones fast enough.
In fact the number of inmates is expected to rise from 11,000 by another 17 percent within the next 12 months, according to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
Higher arrest rates and tougher penalties are apparently responsible for the boom behind bars. There is also a higher proportion of convicted drug importation and sexual assault offenders sentenced to prison. Maybe we need to head down the same path of the United States, where there’s less money available for constructing new jails and more funding for effective rehabilitation programs.
WHITE COLLAR CROOKS
The incidence of white-collar crime is increasing, forcing companies to adopt more stringent controls to reduce their exposure to increasingly sophisticated schemes.
Traditional white-collar crimes include embezzlement, bribery, insider trading, money laundering and accounting fraud.
Financial services firm KPMG published a bi-annual report into fraud, bribery and corruption and its most recent survey reveals $373 million had been stolen over the previous two years in Australia and New Zealand.
But it’s a case of damned lies and statistics – the accuracy of figures on white-collar crime is invariably unreliable because much of it goes unreported, especially among smaller businesses.
BULLDOG SHREDS SHRINK
Like many, I never cease to be amazed by the dramatic twists and turns of the in the Oscar Pistorius case but the latest plunge on this rollercoaster trial is simply remarkable.
A psychiatrist, Merryll Vorster - called by the defence - testified that The Blade Runner may have panicked and shot through his bathroom door (and killed his girlfriend believing it was an intruder) due to exposure to his mother’s guns in childhood./
The prosecutor Gerrie Nel was soon proving again that his nickname “The Bulldog” could hardly be closer to the mark; the Bulldog seemed to be salivating when he then convinced the Judge to refer Pistorios for a mental health assessment.
“You said he has a disorder and it is worsening,” Nel said.
“You said for someone who has that disorder would be a dangerous person?
“That if he had a gun he would be a danger to society?"
I’m not sure whether this has created legal history in the western world – but I can’t imagine any such episode playing out in an Australian court. It’s staggering to contemplate how a trial at such a late stage would be adjourned for 30 days in these circumstances. Mental illness is a complete defence, but carries the risk of prolonged institutionalization depending on the State’s willingness to agree someone is no longer a danger to society.
From canines to felines – and only The Bulldog would be immune to the charms of an unlikely calming influence on the daily rough and tumble of Balmain Court.
Apparently a gorgeous cat has the run of the place, including the bar table. The Court staff insists their mascot settles the tattered nerves of anxious punters and stressed lawyers. I must drop in some time!
A GREAT LOSS
RIP Marion ROSE, Solicitor. I was saddened and shocked to hear of Marion’s passing this morning. She impressed as a personable, thorough, competent and ethical lawyer. She will be sorely missed.
After the death of crime reporting legend Les Kennedy almost three years ago the knock-about journos of Sydney’s sunburnt streets are again mourning the loss of a legend. Hundreds packed St Mary’s Cathedral to farewell Ten Network and News Ltd veteran Harry Potter. It was Les Kennedy who organized a retirement tribute to Harry in December 2010 – and at last year’s Awards for Excellence in NSW Journalism - named in Les Kennedy’s honour - Harry was awarded a gong for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement.
Harry, pictured right with Sandra Sully at the event, described the evening as the “greatest night of his life” and his family credits the honour for keeping Harry alive for at least six months after most expected him to succumb to the cancer he fought for many years.
"He's got a very good tactical mind and is good with strategy ... great advocacy and comes to grips with the evidence."