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Vic Govt defers mandatory sentencing

Vic Govt defers mandatory sentencing

Allowing further consultation on the issue, the Victorian Government has deferred the introduction of statutory minimum sentences for juvenile defenders - a move welcomed by the Law Institute of…

Allowing further consultation on the issue, the Victorian Government has deferred the introduction of statutory minimum sentences for juvenile defenders - a move welcomed by the Law Institute of Victoria.

According to acting LIV president Michael Holcroft, in its recommendations, the Sentencing Advisory Council (SAC) has largely adopted the submission put forward by the LIV.

The SAC adopted LIV's view that new offences attracting mandatory sentences should be created for particularly serious offences resulting in severe injury, such as long-term serious impairment, long-term serious disfigurement or loss of foetus.

The report also adopted the LIV's view that judicial officers still retain discretion in sentencing to allow them to take into account individual "special circumstances" such as intellectual disability, mental illness, psycho-social immaturity. The SAC also recommended that offences of causing severe injury be excluded from the jurisdiction of the Children's Court.

According to Holcroft, the LIV remains opposed to mandatory sentences, and is particularly concerned that there is still potential for them to be introduced for juvenile offenders.

"We will be working with the Government to do all we can to ensure that the focus for dealing with juvenile offenders is on rehabilitation rather than ensuring they follow a life of crime beginning in a Youth Justice Centre," said Holcroft.

"The Sentencing Advisory Council has listened to the voices of the legal profession and youth social workers and I encourage the Government to do likewise before introducing legislation for young offenders."

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