Court report

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court report

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Edith Cowan University

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIVE SERVICES

COURT REPORT

STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL

court report 1

JOHNSON Ms Johnson Jayne NAME:

D.o.B: 2nd October 1990 AGE: 25

ADDRESS: 55 Sunrise Vista MERRIWA WA 6030

PRESENT OFFENCES

18/01/2016

Perth Magistrate’s Court

1x Stealing

Ms Johnson was accused of stealing packets of nappies at the K-Mart store: The accused made a full admission to stealing. The Centre Management and Security staff arrested Ms Johnson on 18th January 2016 by for stealing nappies at Lakeside Shopping Centre, Joondalup before the police were called to take her into custody. She had been caught opening packets of nappies and putting them inside her backpack. Account witnesses from the security staff account to this. In addition, there is a security footage also attesting to this. Ms JOHNSON, herself, also fully admitted to stealing the nappies.

18/01/2016

Perth Magistrate’s Court

1x assault

Ms Johnson struck Mr Peters, one of the security officers who apprehended her, with closed fist. Ms Johnson is said to have become agitated when the security staff who arrested her and demanded that she be take to security office to wait to be attended to by the police. She became aggressive and struck Mr Peters when she was required to accompany security staff to security office to await police attendance. The accused attempted to abscond. When security attempted to restrain her, she punched Mr Peters. The punch caused some injury on Mr Peters left cheek. Apart from the witness accounts from the security staff who can corroborate this, Ms Johnson made a full admission to having struck Mr Peters.

18/01/2016

Perth Magistrate’s Court

2x Possession of a Prohibited Drug

Ms Johnson was in possession of Cannabis. After Ms Johnson was at the Lakeside Shopping Centre, the police were summoned to investigate the alleged theft. On inspecting her backpack, the police discovered 0.6 grams of Methylamphetamine in the internal compartment of the bag. Apart from the police witness account, Ms Johnson admits to possessing the Methylamphetamine. On further search of Ms Johnson’s backpack, the police discovered quantity of Cannabis, which the police estimated to have weighed 4.7 grams. Apart from the police witness account, Ms Johnson admits to possessing the Cannabis.

COURT HISTORY

Ms Johnson is not first time offender – as has she has a court-documented history of possessing prohibited drugs. Evidences at the Fines Enforcement Registry confirm that Ms Johnson was given a Cannabis Infringement Notice 5 years ago that demanded her to pay a fine. However, she paid the fine and currently has no outstanding fines. No other records indicate she has engaged in any other offence.

RESPONSE TO PREVIOUS SUPERVISION

Ms Johnson currently has no history of supervision for community service order.

FAMILY BACKGROUND

Ms Johnson is a single parent. She has two children, a son aged three, and a daughter aged 8 months. Ms Johnson has a younger brother aged 19. Ms Johnson lives with her brother. Ms Johnson’s father passed when she was 15 years old. Her mother is still alive and remarried. Ms Johnson is not in good terms with her mother. She is also not in good terms with her step-father. Ms Johnson has an aunt, an English Immigrant aged 38. Her aunty is however keeping her distance from her after she found that that Ms Johnson is using prohibited drugs. Ms Johnson reiterates that she loves her kids and her brother, both of who depend on her.

MARITAL SITUATION

Ms Johnson is an unmarried single parent. Her former boyfriend, is the father of her kids. She claims that her former boyfriend was verbally abusive, a fact that her brother corroborates. She broke up with her former boyfriend. Her boyfriend moved away as he did not like “the noise and the smells of the baby» Ms Johnson perceives the relationship as having been antagonistic.

EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

Ms Johnson finished high school. School reports and documentation show that Ms Johnson was a happy pupil who could socialise easily with other pupils. Her mother admits that Ms Johnson was good at school and enjoyed school work. She performed well in her academic work. However, things changed in Year 10 so on after her father’s death. She steadily declined in her academic performance. The school counsellor believed that Ms Johnson’s father and the subsequent re-marriage of her mother contributed to her deteriorated school work, behaviours, and attitude. Ms Johnson states that she completed Year 12.

Ms Johnson is presently unemployed. She previously worked at Woolworths store as a casual worker for about 8 months when she was 24. She was terminated for often missing work. She was recently enrolled in a hairdressing apprenticeship and withdrew after becoming pregnant with her first child. She is willing to continue with the apprenticeship.

FINANCIAL SITUATION

Ms Johnson in an unstable financial position: She is presently on a single parent payment that makes up her only source of income.

SUBSTANCE USE

Ms Johnson has a history of substance use: Cannabis and methamphetamine. Ms Johnson admits to smoking Cannabis with her friends almost every day, and binge drinking during the weekends. She started smoking pot while aged 15, after her father’s death. She claims it helps her relax. She also admits to using methamphetamine, although not with her friends. She has used it for six months. She says she has just started using it. She claims it helps her forget about her problems.

SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

On 18 January 2016 Ms Johnson, aged 25, was charged with stealing/assault/ possession of a Prohibited Drug. She was accused of stealing packets of nappies at the K-Mart store. She was also accused of assault. She struck Mr Peters, one of the security officers who apprehended her, with a closed fist. She was also accused of possessing a prohibited drug. The accused was found with 4.7 grams of Cannabis and admitted to personally using the drug. From her brother‘s statement, it is found she also uses methamphetamine. She is a single parent and has two children, a son aged 3 years, and a daughter aged 8 months. She is currently employed and has to depend on single parent payment as her only source of income. On 1st February 2016, Ms Johnson’s case was heard in the Perth Magistrate’s Court where she entered a plea of guilty.

Against this background, this Pre-sentence Court Report seeks to inform the court of the suitability for a community-based sentence for Ms Johnson, who has already been found guilty of the offences. It also provides recommendations regarding the course of action that is deemed appropriate for the court to consider. It is established that grief, family conflict and unemployment contributed to her offending behaviours.

One of the current offences, possession of illegal substances, is related to previous offending. The common risk factor for possession of illegal substances includes depression. The first offending behaviour was due to depression following the loss of her father, while the second is depression due to the desperation to provide for her two children amidst her impoverished financial status.

Recommendations

Recommendation 1: Community service order

for the criminal offences she committed.Ms Johnson should be sentenced to community service. The report recommends that the court considers a community service order as a primary non-custodial means of punishing Ms Johnson It is recommended that

Rationale for a community service order

Ms Johnson meets the suitability criteria and legislative requirements for community service order. The non-custodial sentencing options also have possible benefits to the community and the offender. For instance, Ms Johnson’s offence was of low to medium seriousness. The community or society is at low risk from Ms Johnson’s non-custodial sanction, as she is first-time offender. It is believed that imprisonment would not be constructive, particularly in a short-term sentence (O’Hara and Rogan, 2015).

Several program conditions are also recommended to accompany the community service. For instance, Ms Johnson has to perform at least 100 hours of unpaid community work, as well as take part in drug and alcohol treatment programs and educational programs. This is consistent with the community service orders legislation, which recommends that a convicted offender to be asked to perform hours of community work, ranging between 40 and 240 hours. In addition, as Ms Johnson is also above the age of 16 (she is 25 years old), she qualifies to perform community service order. The legislation for community service orders recommends that the offender should have at least 16 years old to be sentenced to community work.
In addition to the age fact, an additional assessment involves whether the offender is physically sound to perform unpaid work, including not being sickly. From the assessment, it can be established that Ms Johnson is physically sound, as there is no perceptible sign of illness that can hinder her from performing unpaid work (O’Hara and Rogan, 2015).

Community service would not infringe the offender’s rights. While there is a significant leeway to set up sentences, imposing a community service that excessively interferes with the offender’s due process rights is not recommended. These include maintaining a normal family life, where she takes care of her family, and preserves a stable family home environment. This recommendation is based on the premise that the offender needs basic infrastructure in place while on community service, such as a stable home and income, as well as adequate support to the community corrections service to assist them to be reintegrated in the society and to prevent the likelihood of re-offending. In order for the reintegration to be realised, transitioning to independent living have to be supported by continuity of care (Edney & Bagaric, 2007).

The community service program would not be so burdensome that Ms Johnson would find difficult to complete. The difficult circumstances she would face in complying with community service orders is acknowledged, including the fact that she would be taking care of her 8-month-old daughter. Hence, community work near her home would be set up for her (Edney & Bagaric, 2007).

Recommended conditions for community service

During the period of the community service order, it will be ensured that the offender does not break the law, such as by stealing. Ms Johnson will frequently report to the community corrections officer after every 48 hours. A community corrections officer, who will supervise her work, will also regularly visit her. She will also need to acceptably perform the community service work within the time specified in the order. In the event that she changes her residential address, she will have to inform the community corrections officer. Lastly, she would not leave Western Australia without a prior authorization of the community corrections officer. It is recommended that when Ms Johnson fails to meet the above conditions of the community service order, she should be charged with a breach of a community service order and be returned to court to be issued with a different sentence (Rahim et al., 2013).

Being an alternative punishment to imprisonment, community services order would benefit Ms Johnson and the larger community, as well as the correctional system. It will provide her with an opportunity to interact with her family, and the larger society in general. This would be highly beneficial to the offender, as it would not allow her psychological health to weaken, as well as provide a means of anxiety, depression, as well as the likelihood of suicide.

At the same time, imprisonment would not be the most appropriate solution for moulding her son, aged 3, and her daughter aged 8 months called. In addition, it would not be ideal for the growth of the children’s instincts (Wahab et al., 2014). By also taking the best interest of Ms Johnson ’s children into perspective in all issues regarding the sanction, it is clear that community service orders would be the ideal one for Ms Johnson .

An additional condition is that it shall be the offender’s responsibility to perform the community service ordered. Failure to comply with these conditions will imply a breach of the terms of community service order.

However, community work would not be theonly condition of the order. Rather, it is recommended that the courts should as well attach some programs to the condition in order to address the Ms Johnson’s drug dependence, need for restitution and need to be monitored.

Recommendation 2: Substance abuse programs order

It is recommended that the court should attach substance abuse programs to the community service order. Ms Johnson should, therefore, be made to attend a substance abuse programs. A drug treatment order is also recommended for Ms Johnson . This is because it has been determined that Ms Johnson isdrug-dependent. It is expecting that the drug treatment order would serve as a form of restricted suspended sentence, where imprisonment would be suspended. Instead, Ms Johnson would undergo treatment for drug use while at the same time performing her community service work.

It is further recommended that when Ms Johnson completes the drug treatment programs, as well as adheres to all the community service order conditions, and refrains from using drugs for a reasonable amount of time, her probation terms be modified to allow her to serve a shorter community service (Reinhart, 2010).

Rationale for attaching substance abuse programs

It has been determined that the community and Ms Johnson ’s family (two children) would benefit from the offender, who is a substance-abusing offender, once she enters a rehabilitation program. The community is likely to benefit, as it is believed that the offender is not likely to keep on committing crimes once she undergoes an appropriate substance-abuse intervention. Despite this, it is acknowledged that by only attending, and participating in the intervention program, it would not be sufficient to address the community benefit test. The offender would still work beyond the program participation (O’Malley & Sutton, 1997). It is, therefore, recommended that she should also counsel other substance abusers, including her brother.

Additionally, a community service order would allow her to participate continually in a drugs rehabilitation programme, as the treatment has to be prolonged for a considerable period in order to generate stable behavioural changes (Holder, 2010). These would enable Ms Johnson to be instructed on how to break her old thinking patterns and behaviours, as well as acquire new skills for abstaining from the drugs and other criminal behaviours, like stealing.

Conclusion

It is established that Ms Johnson’s poor financial status and her desperation to provide for her two children significantly contributed to the offence of stealing, assault, and possession of illegal drugs. One of the current offences, possession of illegal substances, is related to previous offending behaviour. The common risk factor is depression due to depression due to grief, family conflict, and unemployment. The first offending behaviour was due to depression following the loss of her father, while the second is depression due to the desperation to provide for her two children amidst her impoverished financial status. It is recommended that Ms Johnson should be sent to community service. It is further recommended that the courts should attach substance abuse program to the community service order to address the Ms Johnson’s drug dependence. This would effectively reduce recidivism by eliminating risk factors for her offending behaviour. It is also noted that the offender is likely to comply with the supervision and drug intervention programme.

________________________________________

COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS OFFICER

COMMUNITY JUSTICE SERVICES

References

Edney, R. & Bagaric, M. (2007). Australian sentencing: Principles and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Holder, H. (2010). Substance abuse treatment as part of a total system of community response. Nordic Studies On Alcohol And Drugs, 27(6), 549-563

O’Hara, K. & Rogan, M. (2015). Examining the use of community service orders as alternatives to short prison sentences in Ireland. Irish Probation Journal, 12, 22-46

O’Malley, P. & Sutton, A. (1997). Crime prevention in Australia: Issues in policy and research. Sydney: Federation Press

Rahim, A., Azira, T., Al AdibSamuri, M.& Rahim, A. (2013). Community service as an alternative punishment: The extent of its application on the categories of crime and offender in Malaysia. International Journal of Education and Research, 1(7), 1-7

Reinhart, C. (2010). Drug treatment programs for offenders. OLR Research Report, 2010-R-0451

Wahab. N., Samuri, M., Kusrim, Z., & Rahim, A. (2014). Legal issues in implementing the community service orders for child offenders in Malaysia. Asian Social Science, 10(4), 93-101