Queensland Law Society

Mandatory sentencing to clog judicial system

Date 09 Jul 2012
Contact Natalie Graeff, Manager Corporate Communication
Phone 07 3842 5868
Mobile 0488 433 884
Fax 07 3221 9329
Email n.graeff@qls.com.au

Queensland Law Society has spoken out against proposals by the state government to introduce mandatory sentencing for several criminal offences, stating they would increase costs to taxpayers and clog the judicial system.

President Dr John de Groot said it was an attempt to introduce a ‘one size fits all’ sentencing regime that would cost Queensland millions of dollars in current and additional costs for no community safety benefit.

“It costs more than $200 a day to keep someone in prison, that’s over $70,000 per prisoner per year,” Dr de Groot said.

“The overall cost to the community is likely to be higher when you consider that these offenders are delayed from re-entering the work force and financially contributing to the economy.

“The impact on the judicial system is that there is no incentive to plead guilty to get a reduction in sentence.

“This means there will be less timely pleas of guilty and more matters going to trial and clogging up the courts.

“Victims and their families will not be spared the ordeal of trials and accused persons will spend more time on remand waiting for trials, costing Queensland taxpayers more.

“Other mandatory sentencing regimes have been shown to encourage judges, prosecutors and juries to try to circumvent the rules when they consider the result unjust.

“In some cases juries have even refused to convict or prosecutors have deliberately charged people with lesser offences.

“There can be a number of factors involved in a crime and mandatory sentencing doesn’t take these into account.

“Would you want a family member or friend, or even yourself, faced with a mandatory sentence which means there is no consideration of the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence?

“Appropriate sanctioning of criminal acts is essential but research shows that mandatory sentencing has little deterrent effect.

“Queensland Law Society supports visible policing, which has been proven to prevent crime, educating the public about sentencing and ensuring adequate court resourcing.”