Convicts to lose double-time credit for pre-trial custody

The federal government will introduce legislation Friday to end the practice of giving convicted criminals double-time credit for time spent in pre-trial custody, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Wednesday.

The “two-for-one” credit — whereby each day spent in custody was counted as two — was meant to compensate inmates for so-called “dead time” before their cases were dealt with in court.



The justification for the legislation is interesting. On the one hand, there is a social justification, along the lines of being “tough on crime”. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said:

“The policy has developed over the years where a person gets double credit for the time they served — or in some instances, they get triple credit — and I think there are many people across this country, myself included, who would like to see more truth in sentencing, in the sense that the sentence you get is the sentence that you will serve.”

Fair enough. But I found the economic argument particularly compelling:

“I think that individuals will not find it to their advantage, or their solicitors will not find it their advantage, to have continuous delays or adjournments. So I think this will help move the process forward.”

Is there any evidence that accused and their lawyers delay proceedings to take advantage of double-time credit when they anticipate a custody sentence?

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