Law Society welcomes Attorney General’s comments on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society of Western Australia welcomes comments made by the Attorney General, the Hon Michael Mischin MLC, stating his reluctance to further extend mandatory sentencing. The Attorney General is quoted in a news article as having no plans to expand the current mandatory sentencing regime to cover assaults against security officers or school teachers.
Law Society President Elizabeth Needham said, “The Law Society has consistently opposed mandatory sentencing, as there is no evidence that it works to deter criminal behaviour and is in fact more likely to result in harsh and disproportionate sentences.
“Mandatory sentencing removes the discretion from our Judiciary to ensure that ‘the punishment fits the crime’. Instead, our already under-resourced criminal justice system is further burdened, as Judges are forced to send offenders to prison regardless of the circumstances in each individual case.
“Mandatory sentencing can push first-time offenders and young people toward a life of crime, by causing them to associate with often hardened criminals when they enter the prison system. Mandatory sentencing also has a significant economic effect; a potential employee and taxpayer instead becomes a burden on the community, costing an average of $350 per day to be kept incarcerated (according to a 2015 Productivity Commission report).
“There is a distinct lack of evidence that mandatory sentencing acts as a deterrent to crime. In fact, studies in Australia have demonstrated the opposite. In a 2003 report, the Northern Territory Office of Crime Prevention concluded that for the property offences – the subject of the mandatory sentencing regime – there was up to a 15 percent increase in the prison population.”
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