AUSTRALIA’S death penalty has failed to deter the perpetrators of more than 70 crimes in the past four years, according to new research.
Key points:Police in Australia say they believe they are not deterring crime because they are too scared to talk about the casePolice in Victoria say the number of executions has risen by more than 60% over the past decadePolice say they are “not confident” that the number can be reduced due to changes in the lawThe research, conducted by criminologist Anthony Coady, says there is no evidence the system is working.
It found that just 14% of police reported that they had made any arrests for murder or manslaughter in the previous 12 months.
In Victoria, the number rose to 27% from 22% in the four years before the reforms.
“The Victorian Police have been particularly vulnerable to the increase in executions because they were forced to rely on a criminal justice system that was based on the assumption that an execution would be the first and only punishment that could deter further violence,” Professor Coado said.
“If an execution had been ordered, there would be little to no risk of any subsequent violence occurring.”
He said the research “suggests the system cannot be reformed” because the perpetrators “will still find a way to justify their actions” and will continue to kill and kill again.
“We’re in a very strange place where we can’t really talk about these issues because it’s a crime that’s been on the books for decades, but we can still do something about it,” he said.
In 2016, Victoria had 1,769 people executed, compared to 1,938 for 2015.
In Queensland, the numbers were 2,717 for 2015 and 2,836 for 2016.
The Victorian Government said it was “confident” that its “toughest-ever” campaign to reduce the number had led to a reduction of executions.
“This is an extremely significant drop in the last 12 months,” Victoria Attorney-General George Brandis said.
But he said the State Government had made a commitment to “improve” its execution system and “work to ensure that we are deterring future offenders”.
“This year we have increased our use of lethal injection and have taken the unprecedented step of making the death sentence mandatory for all murder, manslaughter and serious drug offences,” Mr Brandis added.
“As a result, the Victorian Government has achieved a significant reduction in the number and number of people executed in the state.”
He urged the community to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour.
“Police have the tools they need to stop anyone from carrying out violent acts, but they must remain vigilant to avoid escalating violence,” Mr Coadi said.
He said police would also be working with their “partners in crime” to try and get people who had been convicted of violent offences off the streets.