Media coverage: Sydney Morning Herald
A NSW Supreme Court judge has condemned the treatment of a 35-year-old Indigenous man with a mild intellectual disability who has been subjected to a tough supervision order restricting his movements for more than a decade, saying he has not been a "truly free man" since his teens.
The five-year extended supervision order (ESO) made by the court in 2009 was "still current, 11 years later" because the clock stopped running every time he was imprisoned for even minor breaches of conditions.
Former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, QC, who is now president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, said the legislation introducing ESOs and other orders "was radical and controversial at the time" and was based on "a risk of future offending of a serious kind" that was difficult to predict.
"It is a form of punishment for future conduct that may not occur. Nevertheless, Parliament has the power to legislate this way in order to protect the community, but within limits," he said.
Mr Cowdery said the laws provided "a powerful rod for the backs of disadvantaged or excessively targeted groups in the community, including Indigenous people, who may be subject to such orders".
"They become an easy tool for law enforcement to use to unreasonably seek to control such people."