Queensland Law Society

QLS opposes mandatory decision on mandatory sentencing

Date 09 Nov 2011
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 said today it takes issue with the State government setting a timeline for implementing mandatory sentencing before community consultation will be concluded.

The Queensland Government Get Involved website states, “It is anticipated that legislation implementing a new minimum standard mandatory non-parole period (SNPP) will be introduced into the Parliament by the end of the year.”

However, the community consultation process, as described on the very same page, only closed yesterday.

President Bruce Doyle said that the Government had gone through the motions of consultation, without genuinely listening to the experts.

“If the government is introducing the legislation into Parliament by the end of the year, this indicates they have already started drafting the Bill without consideration of the consultation outcome,” Mr Doyle said.

“This reinforces what has long been suspected which is that, despite comments made by the Sentencing Advisory Council in their October report that the majority of the Council does not support SNPPs and despite whatever the community might say, come what may the government is resolute on having its way on this issue.

"It has been proven that mandatory sentencing does not reduce the rate of serious crime, that it increases costs to the justice system and reduces sentencing clarity and transparency, so it is hard to understand the rationale behind such single-minded resolve. The proposal is just bad law.

“The introduction of SNPPs will undermine the fairness of the criminal justice system at the time of sentencing and negatively impact rehabilitation. Furthermore, the likely cost to the community of increasing the prison population is substantial. It is irresponsible for the Government to do this when there is no demonstrated benefit to the community.

It is difficult to understand why the government is so determined to push through the legislation when the community is already paying so many eminent experts on sentencing.

Those experts are appointed judges and magistrates. On the rare occasions when they get it wrong, appeal courts can correct them.

The government is not only disregarding judges, but it is also disregarding the advice of the Sentencing Advisory Council, which is a panel of non-judicial experts.

“Neither SNPPs, nor the way the government is going about introducing them, are indicators of a healthy democracy that respects people’s rights.”