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Readers of this publication will not be surprised to hear that law reform based on no evidence results in bad law. But most readers probably would be shocked to know the parlous state of criminal law reform processes more generally – as well as the source of the problem, and just how simple it could be to do it better.

For more than 16 years this author has, at one time or another been a member of countless law reform initiatives: committees, roundtables, public consultations, private consultations, submissions, public hearings, private hearings, monitoring groups, consultative groups, advisory groups, Parliamentary evidence and more. All this addressing the criminal law policy issues of the day. And, in addition to watching how the sausage has been made, this author has been forced to eat it, both as a prosecutor (state and federal) and as a defence lawyer.

Even accounting for possible cynicism (or perhaps the madness caused by too many committee meetings), it’s clear that criminal law policy is now being made in a more haphazard and less effective manner than before. Using the prism of amendments to the laws of bail, this article is an attempt to examine why – and an attempt to offer a partial solution.

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