The government has not yet prepared legislation and some details of the proposal are unclear. The Sentencing Advisory Council is due to report in September. Clark has indicated that gross violence will include attacks with weapons, in gangs and on incapacitated victims, and that the government will consider extraordinary circumstances exceptions for offenders with mental illnesses or intellectual disabilities.
The proposal has attracted widespread criticism, especially the application of mandatory sentencing to juveniles. Critics claim that the mandatory sentencing is a populist reaction to a statistically small problem, and that it would lead to unjust sentences, breach international law obligations, increase pressure on the courts and harden juvenile offenders at an age when rehabilitation is possible.
TOM KELLY is an intern at PILCH Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic.