Feb 19, 2019 | Updated: 08:19 AM EST

Mandatory Sentencing in Australia Cripples the Healthy Legal Exercise

Apr 21, 2017 02:12 PM EDT


Mandatory minimum sentencing across Australia could be costly. Being the selling point for the Victorian Liberal Party should get elected in 2018, the "two-strike" approach will hit those who are tagged as repeat offenders. However, some experts believe that the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment is not an effective deterrent against future offenses.

The legal and academic community claim that mandatory sentencing fails to increase public safety and, in turn, achieve a reduced crime rate. According to The Conversation, there is a "principle of proportionality and individualized justice" that should be taken into account. While the idea of definite and lengthy imprisonment term is attractive, the success of mandatory sentencing is still hotly debated.

At any rate, mandatory sentencing is the penal foundation across several states and territories. Both the maximum and minimum sentencing are being applied in the New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia. However, this general preference to mandatory sentencing could not be construed as an indicator of its efficiency. Some sectors alleged that mandatory sentencing is, in fact, failing to deliver its intended results.

One argument is that judges are becoming more and more detached to exercising the case by case determination of sentence to be imposed. Further, judges are hampered by mandatory sentencing because they can no longer weigh the individual circumstances of the offenses. The ethos of rehabilitation and deterrence is becoming secondary to punishment.

Meanwhile, the mandatory sentencing is known for its cost. The Australian government's Productivity Commission reported that securing a prisoner in a facility costs A$103,000 per annum. Due to some estimates that mandatory sentencing might add 3,000 persons with a one-year term, A$309 million is needed in each year cycle.

To meet a win-win solution to the debate on mandatory sentencing, the legal and academic sector is still pushing for the case to case approach. An evidence-based, tailored approach and response to each and every case might still prove effective.

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