Education, not mandatory sentencing, the way forward: LIV
The Law Institute of Victoria has said that Victoria’s baseline sentencing legislation should be repealed and any moves towards mandatory sentencing rejected.
The LIV has made a submission to the Sentencing Advisory Council arguing that any issues of public confidence in the criminal justice system are best remedied through education rather than mandatory sentencing.
The Court of Appeal found on 17 November 2015 that baseline sentencing was “incapable of being given any practical operation” and that the defect in the legislation is “incurable”.
The LIV submission opposed the introduction of a standard non-parole period or other mandatory sentencing options.
The introduction of such sentencing schemes would likely result in greater complexity and less transparency in sentencing, delays in delivering sentences and no increase in public confidence in sentencing, according to the LIV.
Furthermore, the LIV believes sentencing schemes could cause overcharging by police, greater difficulty in securing bail for defendants, increases in guilty pleas, additional work for the OPP, a prioritising of consistency over justice, higher court costs, more errors in sentencing and increased prison and correction costs.
The submission said there was no clear evidence of inconsistency of approach in sentencing offenders.
The LIV supports the traditional approach to sentencing of taking each case on its merits, rather than a grid or matrix approach to sentences.
The submission stated that judges who hear all the evidence and are legally trained are best placed to impose sentences.
The LIV has also said it opposes jury involvement in the sentencing process.