ABC Fact checker on mandatory sentencing

The ABC Fact checker has an interesting look at the evidence concerning mandatory sentencing in the wake of the NSW Government’s announcement of minimum jail terms for lethal assaults involving drugs or alcohol. Their conclusion is that there is little evidence in favour of it.

Mandatory sentencing is something that I have always felt uncomfortable with. The main problem is that it results in a court not being able to consider all the facts when sentencing, with the result that individuals convicted of the same offence will often if not usually receive exactly the penalty, even if the circumstances of the offender and the offence are quite different.

To my mind, the only possible justification for mandatory sentencing is that it deters offenders, thereby reducing crime levels. On the evidence, mandatory sentencing has a very limited effect (if any) on crime rates. It should therefore not be used widely, if at all.

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