Bail for box tickers

EVERYONE needs an angle these days, a ticket with a PC-approved box ticked for special treatment. I’ve been a box ticker for many years, for as long as I’ve been asked if I’m of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, and if ever I need bail I’ll be ticking as many boxes as I can find.

That’s because the state government is making favourable noises about the NSW Law Reform’s review of bail laws, and among the recommendations in that review tabled in parliament this month are some for special treatment for box tickers.

While the commission says there should be a general presumption of bail, it says the courts should be even more reluctant to send people of certain groups to jail on remand. Which means, if you are cognitively impaired, for example, that your right to freedom is greater than that of some other people.

Ticking the cognitively impaired box is a good start. Not as sharp as you used to be? Not as sharp as some other people? Smoked too much dope or drunk too much alcohol? Then it seems that the community doesn’t need as much protection from you, that you are less likely to commit more crime, and, anyway, I suppose victims would be consoled by the fact that you’re cognitively impaired.

Tick. And a facial tick will help too.

Young people, those under the age of 18, would be detained only as a last resort and for the shortest possible time. You might bear in mind when a 17-year-old is belting the snot out of you for the second time that he isn’t in detention pending a slap on the wrist for the first time because he has, the commission says, an undeveloped capacity for the inhibition of impulsive behaviours. That will help.

I haven’t ticked that box for a few years.

You should always tick the next box, that declaring Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, if you believe all Australians should be treated equally. I assume they ask the question to ensure equal treatment – why would they ask otherwise? You might also tick it on the offchance that you are, but I happen to know that I am a descendant of Captain Thunderbolt and his Aboriginal wife, Mary Bugg. And so are half the people of Port Stephens, judging from the letters I get from cousins up that way whenever I mention Great Granny Mary.

You should look upon being robbed by a ticker of this box as just deserts, so the risk of more is a positive thing. And as I said, tick, if only because when it comes to bail applications box tickers will be more equal than others.

The next set of boxes don’t get specific recommendations, for reasons I’ll explain in a few minutes, but the tickers do get specific mention by the commission as in need of special consideration for bail.

Having a physical disability, an illness, or being old and frail is a big plus, so get the funny walk happening before you get to the courthouse stairs. It might help if your tick misses the box.

Tie on the blackest, bushiest beard you can find and pay a dozen or so men with black, bushy beards to go charging with you into the court, tick the box for religious minority, and you’ll have a much better chance of charging out of the court with them as a shouting, arm-linked rabble.

You’re more deserving of your freedom, too, if you’re of a non-English-speaking background or a refugee, and I suggest you use a cross for this box. You don’t know what a tick is, remember.

You gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex? Of course we are, and we’re too vulnerable to be jailed on remand unless there is a very, very good reason. See if you can squeeze five ticks into this box.

Why didn’t the commission give a specific recommendation for each of these box tickers? Because, the commission said, it would make membership of the group rather than vulnerability the relevant factor, when ‘‘many members of the particular group might not be vulnerable at all’’.

Huh?

It seems they need just one box: Are you white, heterosexual, Australian?

Clunk.

Is protection of the community and victims more important than the vulnerabilities of people seeking bail?

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