On one side of the ledger, victims, women in the main and girls, punched, kicked, pulled by the hair, beaten with sticks, threatened, terrorised, robbed. On the other side, perpetrators, all girls, and in many ways victims too. In four out of five cases, neglect by their families substantially contributed to their offending. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Justice Dean Mildren (pictured) today scoffed at a reference to the maximum penalty stipulated by the Sentencing Act, suggesting “common sense” would do better in considering submissions on sentence in the case of a young man accused of aggravated property damage. He was told by the Crown prosecutor that the maximum penalty for the offence was fourteen years’ imprisonment. “Fourteen years!” exclaimed Justice Mildren. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
It's about heavier not fairer punishments and it does not deter offenders, they say.
Mandatory sentencing is strongly associated with the dying phase of the last Country Liberal Government. In many ways Terry Mills leads a different CLP into this election campaign, but it seems the leopard can't lose this particular spot – a 'lock 'em up reflex.
Earlier this month, responding to concern over attacks on taxi drivers Mr Mills announced what looks to be a one strike mandatory sentencing policy for assaults on anyone serving the public, not only taxi drivers but including "bus drivers, public servants, bank tellers, retail and hospitality workers".
An assault on this broad category of victim – including, for example, bouncers at night clubs – will be defined as "aggravated" and attract a minimum sentence of three months. This beefs up the party's existing two strike policy statement (see their website) for assault: as a second offence, any assault will attract a minimum of one month; an aggravated assault, a minimum of three months; and causing serious harm, a minimum of one year.
The core problem with this approach – whether to property crime as in the old CLP regime or violent offending – lies with its failure to take account of an almost infinite variety of circumstances and human responses to them.
KIERAN FINNANE discusses the issues with Russell Goldflam, President of the Criminal Lawyers Association of the NT .