Kathy Sundstrom believes our justice system is in desperate need of change.
Kathy Sundstrom believes our justice system is in desperate need of change. Warren Lynam

Our justice system is in need of change

SOMETHING is wrong with our justice system.

You can't sit in a court and not think this as you watch streams of people face the same crimes.

Drugs, drink-driving, domestic violence, petty theft ... the list continues.

Magistrates and judges do their best, but what can they do when our jails are overcrowded?

I don't do court reporting often, but every time I do I leave with a sense of despair at the number of people fronting our courts.

Pages of names of people our police have gone to the effort of arresting.

But it is rare that someone ends up going to jail.

Minor crimes lead to fines that don't get paid.

A report in January last year put the debt to the State Penalty Enforcement Register at $900 million.

People come before the court looking so repentant and fragile, it's hard not to feel sorry for them.

You'd like to think that when given a chance at rehabilitation, as so many are, they would turn their lives around.

But it is depressing when you hear their criminal history and realise it wasn't long ago they were facing a different magistrate on another offence.

It takes someone being released on a domestic violence charge who goes out and kills someone else to make us all jump and down.

It's too late then. Is the solution "zero tolerance", more jails and less mercy?

Is the solution more funding for rehabilitation programs.

I don't know, but something must be done.

I've lived in a country where lawlessness grew to a point where people didn't bother to report crimes.

We have given up hope the man who robbed and tried to rape my 80-year-old aunt will ever be caught.

And even I didn't bother reporting the time

I was mugged at a train station or held up with a knife in broad daylight.

And the drunk man who drove 160kph in a 60kph zone, killing my cousin's wife and leaving him with brain damage will never be tried.

Australia has to address the vast numbers of crimes we see committed in our community.

We just have to.