Sentencing law to be assisted by Sentencing Advisory Council
Sentencing law is a complex and often controversial part of the Criminal process. In considering the competing elements of the sentencing discretion, Magistrates and Judges are often criticised as being too harsh or too lenient.
In March 2016 the Queensland Premier introduced the Penalties and Sentences (Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council) Amendment Bill into the Queensland Parliament. The purpose was to re-establish the Sentencing Advisory Council. The new council is largely modelled on regime abolished by the former government in 2012.
The proposed purpose of the Council is to:
- Ensure public confidence in the administration of justice;
- Improve the effectiveness of sentencing practices;
- Support the principles of sentencing
The primary job of the Council is two-fold.
- To provide information to the wider community about the sentencing process; and
- Obtain the communities views on sentencing and matters about sentencing.
Section 9 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992, relevantly provides that the Court must make it clear that the community acting through the court, denounces the sort of conduct in which the offender was involved. The Court is often critisised as being out of touch with community expectation. The Sentencing Advisory Committee is able to assist the Court.
The Court of Appeal may request input from the Council when delivering or reviewing a guideline judgement. It is hoped that this will make sentencing law more transparent.
The council is to be an independent body comprised of up to 12 members. Members are to be appointed by the Governor in Council on recommendation from the Attorney General. Given the misrepresentation of Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islander Persons in the Judicial System, at least one member of the Council is to be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
The Bill provides a non-exhaustive list people with experience in sentencing law including:
- victims of crime;
- crime prevention;
- law enforcement;
- criminal prosecutions;
- criminal defence representatives;
- corrective services;
- juvenile justice
- justice matters relating to Domestic and Family Violence matters.
Provided the Bill passes through the Parliament, expectation is that the Council will be operational in the latter half of 2016. It is proposed that terms of reference will be issued to consider “sentencing practices associated with Domestic and Family Violence Offences.”
To read more about sentencing law, particuarly the Penalties and Sentences (Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council) Amendment Bill in full go to Sentencing Advisory Council Bill
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