The Law Society of Western Australia is concerned by the passing of the Criminal Law Amendment (Home Burglary and Other Offences) Bill 2014 that imposes mandatory sentences.
The Law Society opposes mandatory sentencing in any form as it removes judicial discretion to determine a penalty which fits in the individual circumstances of the offender and the crime. Mandatory sentencing also ignores that factual circumstances of the offending may vary greatly in terms of seriousness.
Law Society President Elizabeth Needham said, “Mandatory sentencing tends to disproportionately target vulnerable and disadvantaged groups including juveniles, Indigenous and mentally impaired people. It also increases the likelihood of recidivism because prisoners are inappropriately placed in a learning environment for crime, which reinforces criminal identity and fails to address the underlying causes of crime”.
“Furthermore, the Government has no statistics or evidence to support that mandatory sentencing works to deter criminal behaviour, and no specific evidence to show WA’s three-strike laws have been working up until now.”
The Law Society calls on the Government to consider Justice Reinvestment programmes that tackle the underlying and deeper social problems, such as substance abuse, high levels of unemployment and poverty, that affect these vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
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