Queensland Law Society

Policy paper launch to unpack mandatory sentencing issues

Date 04 Apr 2014
Contact Natalie Graeff, Manager Corporate Communication
Phone 07 3842 5868
Mobile 0488 433 884
Email n.graeff@qls.com.au

Queensland Law Society launched its mandatory sentencing policy paper today that unpacks significant issues relating to costs and transparency.

Australia’s new Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson and Queensland Law Society president Ian Brown spoke at the launch.
Mr Brown stated it was important to discuss issues about mandatory sentencing, given its frequent use as an apparent crime deterrent.
“The government has introduced at least ten new mandatory sentencing regimes since June 2012, including the recent VLAD legislation, so the issue is growing” he said.
“Our policy paper details concerns about mandatory sentencing and forms the foundation of our future advocacy work in this area.
“These types of laws are arbitrary and can lead to serious miscarriages of justice.
“There can be a number of factors involved in a crime and this is why it’s important to maintain judicial discretion.
“Would you want a family member or friend, or even yourself, faced with a mandatory sentence without sufficient consideration of the specific circumstances of the case?
“Mandatory sentencing can also be expensive as it draws out trials and extends imprisonment costs.
“It lacks transparency as it removes sentencing discretion from a judge or magistrate. The result is that decisions by prosecutors become a far more critical factor in sentencing.”
“A number of studies have found mandatory sentencing to be an ineffective deterrent to crime.
“Instead, there should be focus on visible policing to prevent crime, educating the public about sentencing and ensuring adequate court resourcing.”