Posted on 14. May, 2010 in News

Acting Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls today said the Brumby Labor Government would further strengthen Victoria’s truth in sentencing regime. 

Mr Hulls said Victoria would continue to lead the way in truth in sentencing, as the only State in Australia to abolish suspended sentences for serious offences including murder, manslaughter, rape, intentionally causing serious injury, sexual penetration of a child under 16 and armed robbery.

“The Victorian community wants our courts to provide truth in sentencing – and the Brumby Labor Government is listening and taking action,” Mr Hulls said.

“Today I have asked the Department of Justice to begin drawing up new legislation to remove suspended sentences as a sentencing option in our courts for the most serious crimes.

“In line with the recommendations of the Sentencing Advisory Council, I have also asked my Department to put forward alternative sentencing options for the courts to have at their disposal.

“These reforms will further strengthen truth in sentencing. The Brumby Labor Government is taking action to ensure that jail means jail.”

The legislation will be introduced later this year to abolish suspended sentences for all serious offences and will take effect from 1 July next year. It will also provide courts with credible alternative sentencing options including tougher Intensive Corrections Orders.

“The key issue for our Government is that suspended sentences do not provide for any sort of monitoring, treatment or reporting requirements,” Mr Hulls said.

“Like many in the community, we find that unacceptable, particularly in relation to the most serious crimes.

“We also want to ensure that for those cases where jail is not warranted, other tough options with strict monitoring conditions apply.

“Under the current regime, serious offenders in exceptional circumstances have been given suspended sentences with no conditions attached. Under these changes, a judge or magistrate would be able to sentence offenders to tougher Intensive Corrections Orders with strict reporting conditions and other requirements.”

Mr Hulls said the Government also intended to progressively abolish suspended sentences for all offences. He said the Government would first abolish suspended sentences for the most serious crimes and then review the implementation of that abolition before moving further.

“The Government has always maintained we would consider measures to ensure sentences meet community expectations and introduce further reforms as part of the progressive implementation of the SAC’s recommendations on suspended sentences,” Mr Hulls said.

“With the passage through the Upper House last week of legislation that gives effect to two of the SAC’s recommendations on home detention and breaches of sentencing orders, we are now in a position to implement the rest of the Council’s recommendations on suspended sentences. 

Mr Hulls said the new legislation would also abolish the mandatory penalty of at least one month’s jail for a second or subsequent offence of driving whilst disqualified. 

He said the sentencing options for driving whilst disqualified would be at the discretion of the court, and include the alternatives proposed by the SAC as well as options under the hoon legislation such as car crushing or impoundment.

“Unlike the Opposition, which would throw thousands of mums and dads with offences for driving while disqualified into jail, we have approached this issue in a considered and measured way, guided by the experts,” Mr Hulls said.

The final cost of these measures will depend on the final legislation that is presented to the Parliament but is expected to be partially off-set by revenue collected through the Government’s upcoming tougher asset confiscation laws.

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