Issues Paper questions Queensland’s ‘80 per cent rule’
The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council has released an Issues Paper seeking community feedback on the state’s serious violent offences (SVO) scheme.
The Council poses 34 questions and invites feedback from legal practitioners, government agencies, victims and survivors of crime and the community about the scheme’s current operation, potential reform options and alternative approaches to enhance community safety.
Council Chair and retired judge, John Robertson, said preliminary feedback, case law and data analysis identified a range of issues relating to the scheme.
“From its inception, the scheme was always destined to impact sentencing outcomes,” Mr Robertson said.
“We discuss in the Issues Paper how the scheme is being applied, how it impacts court sentencing practices, and whether the scheme is achieving its objectives – including community protection.
“And while sentencing offenders is always complicated, the scheme adds another layer of complexity, particularly when dealing with multiple offences where only some are subject to the scheme, or when sentencing co-offenders.”
Mr Robertson said the Issues Paper also explored whether the mandatory nature of the scheme for sentences of 10 years and above may be reducing head sentence lengths for these serious offences.
“This might be because the only way to reflect an offender’s guilty plea and other mitigating factors, such as cooperation with law enforcement, is to reduce the head sentence, rather than set earlier parole eligibility.
“Finally, we are interested in receiving feedback about whether the scheme is structured in the right way, and is targeting the right types of offences and offenders.”
Council member and Project Sponsor, Dan Rogers, said the Council is committed to considering all the information and evidence to ensure the Council’s final advice and recommendations are in the best interests of the Queensland community and that sentencing reflects the seriousness of this offending behaviour.
“We know the review we are undertaking is highly technical, but I still want to strongly encourage community members to share their views,” Mr Rogers said.
“It is important we gather as many views as possible about the scheme and its impact on Queensland’s criminal justice system.
“We want to hear from the community about what they think is working, what isn’t meeting their expectations and what could be changed to make Queensland safer for everyone.”
Written feedback is encouraged by close of business, Friday 17 December 2021, and can be emailed to the Council at email@example.com or posted to:
Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council
GPO Box 2360
Brisbane QLD 4001
The scheme is often referred to as the ’80 per cent rule’ by legal stakeholders as offenders subject to an SVO must serve 80 per cent of their sentence or 15 years, whichever is less, in prison before being eligible to apply for parole.
The Council is due to report back to the Attorney-General by 11 April 2022. More information about the Terms of Reference and how to make a submission can be found on the Council’s website.