: Mandatory sentencing for gross violence?

Mandatory sentencing for gross violence?

Tom Kelly
Victoria

Attorney-General Robert Clark has asked the Sentencing Advisory Council to provide advice on a plan to introduce mandatory sentencing for intentionally or recklessly causing serious injury in circumstances of gross violence.

The plans include four year minimum sentences for adults and two year minimum sentences for 16- and 17-year-old juveniles.
The Attorney General described the aims of the proposal as sending a clear message, protecting the community and punishing offenders.

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.

(2011) 36(3) AltLJ 212
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