Council likely to recommend sentencing reform

Media release

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council has today released a range of options for significant reform of Queensland’s sentencing framework.

As part of the consultation phase of its Terms of Reference into community-based sentencing orders, imprisonment and parole, the options paper outlines new sentencing options to tackle reoffending, streamline sentencing processes and keep the community safe.

Chair and former District Court Judge John Robertson said the Council’s work over the past 16 months had highlighted the need for change.

‘We have a long-term vision for sentencing reform in the area of intermediate sentencing options and parole for courts in Queensland, and our final report is set to make recommendations to that effect.’

‘The Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 is 25 years old and has undergone piecemeal reform over the years.

‘Our sentencing laws are fairly complex and sometimes too inflexible, Mr Robertson said.

‘We need to make considerable changes to the current operation of the Act, to impose a more consistent and flexible sentencing architecture to take us into the future.

‘We know there is a need to streamline the current system and give the courts the most effective tools to deliver fair and equitable justice.’

The Attorney-General issued the Council with the Terms of Reference in October 2017, in response to recommendations in the 2016 Queensland Parole System Review Final Report (Sofronoff Report).

‘Sending offenders to prison does not always work.

‘Evidence shows that prison sentences of up to six months are particularly unsuccessful, both on the impact on reoffending and community safety, and on the lives of offenders,’ Mr Robertson said.

‘We need to tailor justice so that it not only imparts a significant consequence for the offender, but also increases an offender’s chance of rehabilitation, and reduces their chance of committing further offences — in turn this should reduce Queensland’s prison population.’

‘We need to do what we can to make sure our systems are responding to the variety of circumstances that judicial officers see in our courts.’

The Council is now seeking community and stakeholder views on the options paper before consultation ends on 31 May 2019.

‘This is a complex, highly technical and specialised reference, and we have conducted a significant amount of consultation with the sector.

‘We encourage community members and stakeholders to share their views, to inform our final advice to the Attorney-General,’ Mr Robertson said.

The final report will be publicly released in August this year.

The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council provides independent research and advice, seeks public views and promotes community understanding of sentencing matters.

In November last year, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice accepted all recommendations from the Council’s last Terms of Reference on sentencing for child homicide.

To view the Community-based sentencing orders, imprisonment and parole options paper or make a submission please visit the Council’s website.

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