IF YOU take the number of cases involving drugs, coming before the Korumburra and Wonthaggi courts each week, as an indication, this region is absolutely awash with drugs at the moment.
So you need to be aware of what your kids and family members are into right now.
Last Thursday and Friday, the local courts processed no fewer than seven separate cases where trafficking, possession or use of drugs was implicated.
At the Korumburra Magistrates’ Court alone last Thursday, there were nine cases listed for decision when possession of methamphetamine, possession of GHB, trafficking of cannabis and drug driving were listed as the lead charges, although not all were dealt with on the day.
Drug use was also listed as an excuse/reason in other cases involving driving offences, assaults and thefts.
Many of these offenders were appropriately dealt with by fine, community corrections orders or suspended sentences, while also being required to complete programs to reduce their chances of re-offending.
However, in a couple of cases where people were found guilty of drug trafficking, that is knowingly making a living out of selling drugs to others, more often than not to impressionable young people, they did not go to jail.
It is the view of this newspaper that the general community wants to see those people convicted of drug trafficking serving an immediate term of at least one month’s jail, and that’s just for those low-level sellers who can clearly demonstrate that they were only financing their own out-of-control habits.
Those found to be selling quantities that would return them income above a certain dollar value should go to jail for even longer.
These traffickers are incredibly stupid people to be wanting to do this in the first place, so it needs to be made crystal clear to them that a drug trafficking conviction means jail; no ifs, no buts, no maybes.
Trafficking = jail!
On another justice issue, this newspaper does not agree with the phasing out of the suspended sentence option in the magistrates’ court, for purely political point-scoring purposes.
Suspended sentences are often the best option for some offenders where compulsory programs (e.g. mental health, drug, alcohol and violence) can be added to reduce their chances of re-offending. These criminals will also have a jail sentence hanging over their heads for the term of the suspension with the incentive to at least go straight for that amount of time.
If the politicians want to continue meddling in something they know nothing about, they might like to look at the number of frivolous appeals clogging the court system at the moment and keeping convicted felons out of jail.
One thing is for sure, there are a lot of offenders in the system at the moment, and others who may be about to offend, who are going to get a very rude awakening after the end of September this year when they find the option of a suspended sentence is gone and the only way a magistrate can deal with a certain crime is with a jail term.
The state’s jails are already filled beyond normal capacity so a potential catastrophe is looming on that front.