Queensland Law Society

QLS welcomes SAC views on standard non-parole periods

Date 11 Oct 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 it welcomes the report of the Sentencing Advisory Council published today that discouraged adoption of standard non-parole periods (SNPPs).

In its final report on the issue, SAC stated that ‘there is limited evidence that SNPP schemes meet their objectives, beyond making sentencing more punitive and the sentencing process more costly and time consuming. Added to this are the possible negative impacts of such a scheme on vulnerable offenders.’

The Society has advocated against standard non-parole periods as they reduce judicial discretion and the ability for people to receive a fair and just sentence that considers all the circumstances.

CEO Noela L’Estrange said the Society had long argued against SNPPs and saw no merit in standard non-parole periods which are, in essence, a form of mandatory sentencing.

“I am pleased that the majority of the Sentencing Advisory Council does not support SNPPs and accepts evidence from other states that it increases costs to the justice system, makes sentencing more complex, reduces sentencing clarity, transparency and predictability, and yet, does not reduce the rate of serious crime or improve community safety,” Ms L’Estrange said.

“Crimes are committed by different types of people for different reasons – our judicial system was never designed as a one size fits all approach.”

Earlier this year, while the Society was not asked for its views on whether Queensland should have SNPPs, it was asked to provide recommendations regarding the fairest way such a scheme could work.

“The council has taken on board our suggestion that, if SNPPs are introduced, they adopt a percentage based system where the minimum period of time to be served in jail is a percentage of the total sentence,” Ms L’Estrange said.

“This would give back some judicial discretion in sentencing, although we still strongly oppose any move in the direction of mandatory sentencing or SNPPs.”