Victorian Government should drop mandatory sentencing for young people.
  • Petitioned Hon. Ted Baillieu

This petition was delivered to:

Premier of Victoria
Hon. Ted Baillieu

Victorian Government should drop mandatory sentencing for young people.

    1. Petition by

      JustAct

According to the YMCA, in Victoria, almost half of young offenders will be imprisoned as adults. This is very expensive as, for example, it costs around $113,000 per adult prison place per year.

Thankfully, in Australia, all jurisdictions have laws that ensure that detention should be a ‘last resort’ for juveniles. That’s good because there is a growing belief that the emphasis in juvenile justice ought to move from simple punishment towards making young offenders accountable for their actions, while at the same time involving families in making decisions about their children and in addressing the needs and rights of victims.

The Victorian Government should be congratulated for providing $17.5 million aimed at reducing crime by young people through prevention and rehabilitation programs.

Unfortunately though, the Victorian Government wants to establish two year statutory minimum sentences for violent juvenile offenders (16-17). This sounds like ‘common sense’. However, studies show that the effectiveness of introducing higher penalties and greater levels of incarceration for young people committing violent crime as a way of decreasing crime and reoffending is doubtful. You end up spending too much on detention and less on prevention.

A new approach is to divert funds that would otherwise be spent on building additional juvenile justice centres to services and programs that address the underlying causes of crime in local communities. This is called ‘justice reinvestment’, and this approach is being successfully used in the US; it can result in real benefits such as reduced crime, reduced re-offending and cost savings for government, and provides long-term benefits to the community.

Stopping reoffending means less harmful crime down the track.

Judicial discretion is also important. A recent detailed Australian study showed that, when provided with more information about four actual cases, the public would have given lower sentences in three out of the four cases. Another recent Tasmanian study showed that a substantial majority of jurors with firsthand experience of judges consider that sentences are appropriate and that judges are ‘in touch’ with public opinion (the opinions of these jurors who have actually experienced the system are very different to those who form their perceptions second-hand via the mass media).

Legislation to establish statutory minimum sentences for gross violence offences will be prepared for introduction into Parliament in 2012. However, following a recommendation from the Sentencing Advisory Council in 2011, the Victorian Government has stated that statutory minimum sentences for juvenile offenders will not be included in initial legislation.

The Victorian Government is open to hearing from members of the public, so it is important to have your say now.

Sign this petition if you are opposed to mandatory minimum custodial sentences for young people.

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Recent signatures

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    1. Reached 50 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Kathleen Baldini ELTHAM., AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      Judges who hear all the evidence and circumstances are in the best position to make decisions that affect all the people involved, parents,community, the victim/s, and to provide opportunities for rehabilitation.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Gwen Masters SIMSON VIC, AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      the justice system needs to take account of each persons circumstances, mandatory sentencing in my opionion will simply encourage reoffending through learned behaviours whilst incarcerated

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Patricia Donnelly ASHWOOD, AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      Imprisoning juvenile offenders as adults is ensuring lifelong damage. How will the government apologise to these people in years to come?

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Graeme Harrison GREENSBOROUGH, AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      As a Christian I don't believe anyone is "too far gone" but I think mandatory sentencing sends that message. The source of mandatory sentencing is despair about young offenders and in turn it causes despair and all that follows.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Bill Doogue MELBOURNE, AA
      • over 2 years ago

      Victoria has led the way in low imprisonment rates and low crime rates in Australia for a long time. Mandatory sentencing for young people will effect that adversely and is silly.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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