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The LIV view on mandatory sentencing and community based orders

The LIV view on mandatory sentencing and community based orders

By LIV President Steven Sapountsis

Punishment Young Persons 

Recent renewed media headlines about governments needing to get even tougher on crime, as well as some newspaper criticism of the LIV’s supposed “softness” on sentencing invite an explanation of the LIV position on sentencing and youth detention. A recent spate of home invasions and car jackings has heightened the need for a discussion about sentencing policy for violent offences. Lawyers are members of the community, often with families, and they are not immune from the unease and trepidation caused by the reported increase in certain types of crime. The following is a brief report form The Age newspaper on 24 July 2016 that would have caused some anxiety in the community for lawyer and non-lawyer alike: “A family of six, including three children, hid in terror in a bedroom as a gang of thugs burgled a Springvale house early on Sunday. Police believe that four or five offenders broke a front window of the home at about 1.45am. A man who heard the break-in fled to a rear bedroom with his wife, three children and father-in-law, locked the door and huddled there until the thieves drove off in the family’s two cars. The police said that the offenders ranged in age from 13 to their mid-20s. It is the response to that type of crime, especially when it is reported as “rampant”, that defines our character as a community. The LIV has consistently maintained that the sentencing for such offences is most appropriately done by the judge hearing the case, without the judge’s discretion being unduly fettered by mandatory sentencing. Generally speaking, there is sufficient choice in the range of offences that can be charged and sentences available that properly allow a judge to take into account the protection of the public and the many other factors relevant to the sentencing process. I will deal with some of those factors shortly.

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