This blog has previously noted how there is little evidence that mandatory sentencing is an effective deterrent. Which is why it is disappointing that the Queensland government intends to introduce it for “one punch killers”:
ONE-PUNCH killers would face life imprisonment under proposed changes to Queensland laws.
The Newman government’s draft plan to tackle alcohol-related and drug-related violence, released on Sunday, would create an offence – unlawful striking causing death – to deal with one-punch killers. If convicted, defendants would be required to serve at least 80 per cent of their life sentence behind bars before being eligible for parole. “We have all seen the devastating and often tragic effects of coward punches not just in our state but across the nation,” Premier Campbell Newman said in a statement.
The courts tend to punish people found guilty of manslaughter fairly severely, with the median sentence in Queensland being 8 years (although eligible for parole earlier than this). It should also be remembered that many convicted of manslaughter as a result of an assault committed the offence whilst intoxicated or provoked, and those mitigating factors are reflected in sentence. And, if a judge fails to adequately sentence an offender, his or her sentencing decision can be appealed. It is difficult to accept that those who are intoxicated or provoked are less likely to assault others because of a mandatory sentence available if they should accidentally kill another. Furthermore, mandatory sentencing prevents a court from taking into account all the circumstances of the offence, and imposing a sentence that reflect them. It means that convictions for manslaughter will tend to receive exactly the same sentence, even though some cases are much more egregious than others. On a side-note, such a measure will likely further aggravate the rift between the Queensland government and the Queensland judiciary.