Prisoners are being subjected to harsher conditions in custody because of coronavirus restrictions, but one MP says those on remand cannot be trusted to go into the required isolation if released on bail.
Lockdowns, cancellation of work and a ban on visitors have been implemented to try to stop the spread of the virus in prisons, which has led defence lawyers to argue for their clients to be released on bail.
Wangaratta-based MP Tania Maxwell said this needed to be put in perspective before bail and parole conditions were relaxed.
She said restrictions were having an impact on everyone's lives, with no visitors to households or aged-care facilities even during times of weddings, funerals, and the birth of children.
"Many people are making sacrifices that significantly impact their life, and for some the impact will be for the rest of their lives. Yet, there are some who want to release offenders early so they don't have to forfeit visitation," she said.
"Will these offenders suddenly change their behaviour and remain isolated in their accommodation?
"Sorry, but I'm sceptical."
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Ms Maxwell said there were early signs that restrictions on public movement were reducing the spread of coronavirus.
"It is possible that for everyone's safety, including their own, it's actually a good idea that offenders remain in custody, where they are provided meals, shelter, medical attention when required and an environment free from COVID-19 as opposed to the risks of contracting this virus in the community," she said.
"I am appalled at this being considered, particularly when there are so many other vulnerable people in our society whose needs should be prioritised over those who have been incarcerated for crimes committed."
Meanwhile, the trial of Phillip Dunn and Darcy McNamara - accused of murdering Wangaratta man Nathan Day in July 2018 - has been adjourned until restrictions have lifted.
The trial had been due to start in May, but the Supreme Court of Victoria announced on Monday that all jury trials were officially suspended until further notice.
But County Court circuits scheduled in Wangaratta in April and in Wodonga in May will go ahead, proceeding with plea hearings and appeals rather than trials.
Prisoners will appear via video link instead of being transported to the region.
"Insofar as the regional work in the criminal jurisdiction is concerned, the Supreme and County courts will work with parties who have matters listed at circuit locations in order to conduct work remotely utilising technology including telephone conferences, and audio-visual solutions," the courts said in a statement.