The railroading of Josiah Finch.
Josiah Finch is currently serving a life sentence with a 14 year non-parole period. It is my belief that Josiah was ‘railroaded’ as a pre-election political stunt. However, before I point the fingers at others, I must admit to doing Josiah a disservice by understating the severity of his sentence.There are numerous INCORRECT references in my blogs to Josiah receiving a 14 year sentence with an 8 year non-parole period. Those statements are wrong for as I mention above, Josiah received a life sentence.
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Why was Josiah railroaded and how did it occur?
In late 2005, the Liberal Party in South Australia announced that it would contest the Mach 2006 state election on a ‘Law and Order’ policy platform. The Liberal Party was claiming that the Rann Government was soft on crime and so the Rann Government needed a high profile case that could be used to prove that the Rann Government was tough on crime. Josiah Finch made a perfect patsy for the Rann Government. He was implicated in a murder and even though he not killed anyone, he could be charged with Felony Murder, a crime with a mandatory life sentence.
The problem with that charge is that it also applies to deaths resulting from the misuse of Breaching legislation and there was no shortage of that sort of activity.
- In the 1990s, some CES staff engaged in highly illegal Breaching competitions. At the Friday night ‘happy hour’ booze up, the winner’s prize was a bottle of booze up to the value of $60.
- In short, Breaching was a ‘vocational sport’ for some CES staff.
- Some others CES case managers misused Breaching for ‘administrative convenience’, i.e. to make sure that welfare recipients attended appointments, the clients were Breached.
- Job Network agencies exploited a fatal flaw in the Job Network funding which enabled them to sign up a long-term unemployed person and collect an up-front fee of up to $3,000 that was paid to provide training and job search support. However, the agencies would find an excuse to breach the client and then sigh up a new client and then the process was repeated.
- In just 4 months the Job Network was facing bankruptcy and its collapse was only prevented by Centrelink implementing a secret moratorium on Breaching.
- Victims of the scam were not compensated for the hardship suffered.
- Under the SA Felony Murder statute, deaths resulting from this criminal activity could be classified as Felony Murders. The only problem was that those who knew the truth were keeping their mouths shut.
- On June 27th 2000, an ALP MP, Cheryl Kernot, issued a press release that revealed that the Howard Government was enforcing Performance Indicator targets, colloquially known as Breaching Quotas. This misuse of Breaching legislation resulted in 346,078 breaches being issued in FY 2000-01 alone at a rate of approximately 3 per minute.
- This caused a humanitarian disaster bur Centrelink annual reports contained no mention of the humanitarian impact of Performance Indicator targets. Information released in September 2009 by the Department of Employment made it possible to draw up a probability table on the number of deaths that may have occurred.
- The as yet unreported, secretly classified death toll from Performance Indicator breaching activity is probably in the range of 35 – 700. That is a very wide margin, but greater accuracy will only come when the precise details are extracted from Centrelink’s files.
- In June 2004 the Australian Federal Police was asked to investigate the breaching quota activity to determine the number of fatalities caused by this misuse of Breaching legislation. In a letter dated July 7th 2005, the Federal Police refused to investigate citing, “gravity/sensitivity” and “government protocols”.
- In short having robbed and murdered welfare recipients through the deliberate misuse of Breaching legislation, the Howard Government then protected itself from an AFP criminal investigation with “government protocols”.
So much for Justice!
In October 2005, I provided details of the AFP decision to Mike Rann’s staff at his Salisbury electorate office. Weeks later, Josiah was charged with Felony Murder and the Senate’s Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee secretly classified the AFP decision as confidential.
However, I wrote to the SA Director of Public Prosecutions and provided details of the AFP decision. It appears that the DPP ignored this information and did not make it available to either the defence team or to the jury.
Had the Rann Government and the DPP studied the AFP refusal careful, it is possible that the Felony Murder charge may have been withdrawn. It is also highly unlikely that a jury would ignore the death caused by illegal breaching activity and the AFP’s refusal to investigate those deaths.
Why should you care about this injustice?
Simple logic If Josiah Finch could be so brazenly railroaded by the political and legal systems, the implication is that anyone could also be railroaded in the same manner. If you are a welfare recipient, you are fair game because you don’t have the financial resources (money) needed to hire a competent trial lawyer and your chances of fighting this sort of systemic injustice are virtually non-existent.
At the end of the day, Equality before the Law is a constitutional, moral, social and legal right and no-one, no matter how high and mighty, no matter how powerful, should be above the law. The AFP refusal to investigate the humanitarian impact of Performance Indicator targets is a national disgrace for it means that two distinct standards of Justice are in play, one that shields politicians and their bureaucratic staff from Justice and another,totally different system of Justice for the rest of us.
Let Justice flow like a stream and righteous like a river that never runs dry. (The Bible: Amos Chapter 5, verse 24) The fate of Josiah Finch is a shocking example of the fact that Justice now flows more like a sewer pipe than a stream of pure water.
Ron Medlicott. (Christian welfare justice advocate.)