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Jamie McCrossen Should Be Released on Parole

Update: October 6th, 2018. The Supreme Court of Tasmania has ordered the release of Jamie McCrossen and, of course, it’s been so long since I was in the system I forgot the part about the Dangerous Criminals Act being a simple release from prison. It’s a binary dangerous vs not dangerous assessment where the not dangerous are released. Unlike supervised parole with a sentence hanging over your head. So I hope they do supply good support on his release. As Tasmanians we should hang our head in shame at the treatment this man has undergone within the System and by the System in our names.

Jamie Gregory McCrossen has spent the last 28 years in custody at Her Majesty’s Prison Risdon on the Eastern Shore of Hobart, Tasmania. Why? He robbed an antique store in 1990 with an antique pistol and later wrote a threatening letter to the witness signed in blood. He was 18 years of age.

He hasn’t killed anybody. Yes, he wrote that threatening letter, but keep it in context. With all of the crimes out here in the meantime it seems almost trivial. Terrifying for the witness, but relatively over-blown in reality. And having known Jamie for a number of years in our twenties I have to say he really couldn’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag. But he was fearless and would never back down. That attitude tends to scare the authorities.

Picture this guy. He stands (from memory) around 5’10, he appears thin and uncoordinated in a similar way to how we stereotype mild cerebral palsy (he is in no way an athlete or strongman), his stutter can be extreme. Because of this appearance and communication barrier Jamie has always been isolated from the average prisoner in courtrooms and inside prison. And this has combined with his bad attitude and highly intelligent brain to slowly dig this hole for himself through his twenties that keeps him locked up inside that prison.

Unfortunately for Jamie (and fortunately for me) we both came under a new Act of the Tasmanian Parliament – the Life Prisoners and Dangerous Criminals Act, 1994. All murderers at the time were serving a mandatory sentence – The Term of their Natural Life (with most being paroled at 12-15 years on life parole); Lifers had to apply for resentencing as if the judge were sentencing without that mandatory restraint as of the time of original sentencing.

This meant Tasmania’s lifers approaching the Court for often reduced finite sentences never had to produce prison records of behaviour. Simply, a badly behaving lifer got a free pass on prison behaviour. It would only count towards their being granted parole or not after the fact of sentencing.

Tasmania’s Dangerous Criminals (persons in respect of whom a declaration under section 392 (1) of the Criminal Code had been made by the Court) needed to prove they were no longer dangerous for the Court to lift the declaration. Thus, Jamie McCrossen looked at that point to the Court as a continued threat to society because he was rebellious in prison. I’d go further… they tortured him in prison. He self mutilated in prison. He attacked a guard who was a particular bother to prisoners and everyone knew that guard should not be there.

In perspective, Jamie McCrossen has served twice as long as many of the murderers who were serving The Term of their Natural Life at the time of his incarceration. And probably twice as long as most murderers who were resentenced under the very same Act of Tasmanian Law that freed those murderers for the public good.

So here we are in 2018. I’d add that the newspaper article is wrong in that Mark “Chopper” Read wasn’t the only dangerous criminal released since that Act came into play for people declared Dangerous Criminals. They need to research before printing rubbish like that. What isn’t rubbish is that in 2017 the Court said Jamie was too institutionalised to ever release. And I am here to tell you that is completely fucked up. He’s a human being.

He is a human being with hopes, fears, family and feelings. Occasionally his family send me emails asking what they can do and all I can say is I don’t know. Does Tasmania have a conscience? Hopefully. But nobody is going to march or riot for this guy to be released. Just know that we should. We bloody well should.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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