Justice in Sentencing

Reflect Community Views


An honest barrister recently told me: 'We don't have a justice system in this country. We have a legal system'.

There has been an ominous shift in the way criminal law is practiced in this country. It has become more about dissecting the letter of the law rather than applying it in the spirit in which it was written.

What does that mean? It means that we have maximum sentences for crimes yet we seldom see a maximum sentence imposed.  Or, if it is, an offender can appeal and it usually gets reduced because of precedents (cases of similar circumstances where a shorter sentence was issued in the past).  The maximum sentence for rape may be 25 years – the rapist gets 5.3 years because of precedence.

We want sentences for violent crimes to reflect community views. Reduce the influence of precedence in the appellate courts. Otherwise our courts are always going to be restricted to giving the lowest sentence ever imposed for a crime.

We believe an offender's right to freedom  currently outweighs the safety of the community. Our police, in trying to protect us, are routinely exposed to dangerous recidivist violent offenders and they shouldn't be. These criminals ought to be behind bars.

We say, putting the violent criminals first and the community's safety second is an unacceptable risk. If longer sentences were imposed for violent crimes, Australia would be a much safer country to live. We believe soft judges should be removed.

It's just common sense.

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