Mandatory Sentencing In Australia

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‘Mandatory sentencing refers to the practice of parliament setting a fixed penalty for the commission of a criminal offence.’ (Roche, 1999) This can be a maximum sentence or a minimum sentence. So for example there is a mandatory life sentence with a 20-year non-parole period for repeat serious child sex offenders. No matter the circumstances of the crime or the criminal there are no exceptions made for this sentence. Prior to 2012 Queensland did not have mandatory sentencing for any offences but later introduced it for a number of criminal acts. The legislation introduced is all up on the board. It ranges from the mandatory life sentence for repeat child sex offenders, which was mentioned above, in the Criminal Law (Two Strike Child Sex Offenders)…show more content…
One of the fundamentals that make up a fair legal system is that fact that the punishment has to fit the crime. This is so important because each trial has its own unique circumstances and its own individual offender. Therefore it is important for the judge to take this into account when sentencing. ‘Mandatory Sentencing laws are arbitrary and limit an individual’s right to a fair trial by preventing judges from imposing an appropriate penalty based on the unique circumstances of each offence and offender.’ An example of the sentence not fitting the extremity of the crime is a case study from the Northern Territory. A 16 year old juvenile with one previous conviction was sentenced 28 days prison time for stealing a bottle of spring water. When judicial discretion has been removed it makes it difficult for the courts to bring appropriate justice to individual cases. As the Former Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery stated on the topic of judicial discretion ‘The modern historical objective of sentencing in our system is to make the punishment fit the crime and the criminal. It is not possible for the relevant sentencing considerations to be identified accurately and comprehensively in advance of the offending (as Parliament would have to do in order to be able to fix just sentences in legislation). There must be left scope for discretion, to be exercised in a judicial fashion…show more content…
Recidivism is lapsing back into a criminal behavior pattern. According to the Australian Institute of Criminology 60% of those in custody have been imprisoned before (Australian Insitutue of Criminology , 2011). This is a high rate of recidivism. Since mandatory sentencing has been introduced this has not changed with 53% of imprisoned offenders, who have been imprisoned before, are likely to reoffend (Drabsch, 2006). ‘When adopted, mandatory sentencing, fails to produce convincing evidence which demonstrates that increases in penalties for offences to deter crime’. (Law Council,

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