Today Victorian Upper House will debate the Justice Legislation Miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2018 which introduces a mandatory sentencing regime.
Fiona Patten MP, Leader of the Reason Party and member for the Northern Metropolitan Region, is deeply concerned by the proposed changes.
Ms Patten said “Our frontline workers place themselves in harm’s way to save or protect people’s lives. It is noble and challenging work and they deserve to feel safe at work. However, I do not believe that mandatory sentencing will make them safer.“
“It is clear from evidence around the world, that mandatory sentences do not have a deterrent effect on crime. In fact, evidence suggests that imprisonment actually increases an individual’s prospects of reoffending.”
“These laws are not evidence based. They simply will not achieve their intended goal.”
“Why aren’t we looking to jurisdiction like the Netherlands, or even Texas where they are actually focussed on reducing offending and reoffending, which makes the community safer as a whole”
The danger of mandatory sentencing is that it fetters judicial discretion and has led to demonstrable injustices in other jurisdictions around the world. Currently in Victoria, when an offender is sentenced in court the Judge must balance punishment, deterrence, denunciation, rehabilitation and community protection.
Whether a sentence is adequate or not, can only be assessed in the full facts of the case. Which is why the judiciary, are best placed to make those complex sentencing decisions. And if the court gets it wrong the decision is appealed.
Worse, this mandatory sentencing regime may strips away protections for family violence victim-survivors and potentially silence many women, who may fear the consequences of calling the police, if that call could lead to a mandated jail sentence for their child or partner.
Ms Patten said “I do not understand how the government can reconcile public support for reforms to protect women from family violence with their support for mandatory sentencing.”
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