The Victorian Government's plans to introduce mandatory minimum sentences for young offenders will do more harm than good, according to the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV).
According to LIV, the government should rule out mandatory sentences of two years for young offenders aged 16 and 17 as they will cause more problems than they resolve.
"This type of sentence is more likely to drive young offenders into a life of crime than rehabilitate them," said the acting LIV president, Michael Holcroft.
Attorney-General Robert Clark has asked the Sentencing Advisory Council to advise on the introduction of a statutory minimum penalty for the offences of intentionally causing serious injury and recklessly causing serious injury when either offence is committed with gross violence. The statutory minimum penalty would apply to juvenile offenders aged 16 or 17, as well as adult offenders.
"Mandatory penalties for youth flies in the face of the whole youth justice system which, quite rightly, focuses on rehabilitation," said Holcroft. "We are not doing the community any favours if we lock young people up for two years and then expect them to be rehabilitated."
According to Holcroft, mandatory sentencing would also lead to increased court delays and additional pressure on victims as it would discourage offenders to plead guilty to any offence.
"Each case must be determined on its individual merits. Judges and magistrates, not the court of public opinion, are best placed to do this."