Community Based Corrections Orders in Western Australia
The law that governs sentencing in Western Australia is the Sentencing Act 1995. One of the sentencing orders that can be imposed under the Sentencing Act is a Community corrections order (CCO). CCOs are non-custodial orders that give the court options for managing offenders while they continue to remain in the community. This article deals with Community Corrections Orders in WA.
How do Community Based Corrections Orders work?
Community based orders also provide an offender with the opportunity to undergo treatment or to take part in vocational, educational or personal development programs. The person may also be required to perform community service work. Supervising the order is the responsibility of Department of Corrective Services. CCOs are managed by community corrections officers whose job is to make sure that the offender meets all the conditions the court has imposed in the order. If the order includes supervision, then the offender must also report to these officers during the period of the order.
Prior to making a CCO, a court will usually request a pre-sentence report to make sure that the order can meet the needs of the offender. The matter may have to be adjourned for a period for a report to be prepared. The length of a CCO is determined by the court. It must be for at least six months and cannot be longer than two years.
When a community based order is issued the offender must:
- Report within 72 hours of the sentence being handed down to their community corrections officer.
- Advise their community corrections officer if they change their address or their employment.
- Not leave the State without the permission of the Community Corrections office.
- Comply with directions from the Community Corrections office.
- Comply with all of the terms of the court order.
Requirements of CCOs
There are four requirements that can be placed on a community based order in Western Australia. The court must include at least one of these requirements and can impose as many as it chooses.
These requirements are:
- That the offender be supervised so that their progress can be monitored and regular counselling given. The community corrections officer will decide how often the offender must report. This may be weekly or more frequently.
- That a program be designed to help the offender curb their criminal behaviour using treatment and assessment. Treatment may be for any drug or alcohol abuse. There may also be a requirement to attend an educational, training, vocational or personal development program. The court can also direct that the offender lives at a specific location so they can attend the relevant program.
- That the offender undertake community service. The number of hours to be worked under the order will be between 40 and 120 hours. In each seven day period at least 12 hours must be worked. Community service may involve working with an organisation or the offender may have to join a group who are allocated work on outdoor community projects.
- That the offender be subject to electronic monitoring (where the offence is family violence and the person is a serial family violence offender).
In Western Australia the court also has the power to make a spent conviction order at the time that it makes a community based order. This means that once the period of the community based corrections order has been successfully completed, the offender does not have to reveal the details of the conviction to anyone, except in exceptional circumstances.
If the order is finished with no breaches committed, the sentence is finalised. If the court decided to make a spent conviction order at the time the sentence was imposed, then no conviction will be recorded against the offender’s name once the sentence is successfully completed and it will not appear on their criminal record. If a spent conviction order was not made, the offender will have a criminal record.
If the offender breaches the order by not complying with the terms of the order or by committing another offence while the order is current, the community corrections officer will prepare a breach report for the court. The case will then come before the court again. The offender may be re-sentenced for the original offences and may not receive the benefit of another community based option. Any new offences will also be dealt with and the offender will also be sentenced for those.
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