Dear Minister


I refer to the judgment of Queensland Supreme Court Justice Applegarth in Queensland Attorney‑General v FJA [2018] QCS291 delivered 6 December 2018 and appearing on the Queensland Supreme Court website by way of publication today.

I draw your attention to the highly critical comments made by Justice Applegarth in respect of what this Council contends is a fundamental failure of the Dangerous Prisoner Jail Treatment & Rehabilitation Programme:

  • At paragraph [3]: Unfortunately, and despite the fact that the Respondent (prisoner) has been in custody since June 2017 (when his parole was suspended), he has not been approached to undertake a Sexual Offender Treatment Program.
  • At paragraph [4]: I remarked at the hearing on 26 November 2018 that it was completely unsatisfactory that the Respondent (prisoner) had not been offered a place on the HISOP (a rehabilitation program for serious sexual offenders) long ago, and that it was simply not acceptable for this Court to order his continuing detention so as to undergo treatment …
  • At paragraph [119]: It is unfortunate, to say the least, that the Respondent was not offered and did not undertake sex offender programs in the second half of 2017 and throughout 2018. If he had completed them satisfactorily, he might have been paroled in 2018 or subject to a supervision order in late 2018. Instead he must be detained in custody for treatment he should have received during his term of imprisonment.
  • At paragraph [122]: If the system had offered the Respondent a much needed HISOP place over the last 18 months and he had completed the program satisfactorily, he probably would have been released in late 2018 on a supervision order. The system having failed the Respondent and the community[1] in this way, regrettably he must be detained in custody for treatment.

I observe that the underlining in the above extracts is mine.

It is to be observed that criticisms of the type aboveoutlined above are quite unusual coming from a Supreme Court Judge and accordingly deserve to be taken seriously and acted upon.

As a criminal defence lawyer I observe that the problem as exemplified by FJA is certainly not restricted to that case and, indeed, is widespread and close to being systemic.

I have had a number of cases over the last five years where I have written to Sentence Management at Correctional Centre level and thereafter to the Department of Corrective Services Head Office Level endeavouring to ascertain when a client is to be put on a programme. It is frequently the case that numerous letters have to be written.  Frequently the letters are not replied to and require constant follow up and when a reply is received it is often meaningless particularly as to information being sought as to when a particular client is going to be put on the relevant programmes especially MISOP and HISOP.

In making these observations I am not in any way being critical of individual sentence management staff particularly those I correspond with at Head Office level as I find them polite.

In the absence of other explanations it would appear that the problem in relation to putting sexual offenders on relevant rehabilitation programmes is inadequate resources not incompetent staff.

It is respectfully suggested that a review be conducted of the entire operation of rehabilitation programmes particularly for sexual offenders in light of Justice Applegarth’s trenchant criticisms. It is respectfully suggested that such a review should concentrate on the following issues:

  • Whether the resources for sentence management programmes generally within Queensland prisons but particularly in respect of sexual offenders are adequate.
  • Having a programme effected which provides written advice to a prisoner within a month of their reception into prison as to what programmes they will be required to undertake and the date and length of such programmes.
  • As the problem as exemplified in FJA should have been obvious to senior personnel within the Department of Corrective Services without problems having to be highlighted by a Supreme Court Judgement it is respectfully submitted that the review which we contend for should be undertaken by a credible entity completely external to the Department of Corrective Services.

Could I please obtain your response to this issues raised herein by 18 December 2018.

Yours faithfully




[1] All underlined points of emphasis are my points of emphasis and the underlining does not appear in the original Judgment.