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Victorians demand double penalties from courts

| 05.12,11. 12:22 AM |


Victorians demand double penalties from courts


December 05, 2011

VICTORIANS have called for the courts to dish out sentences for serious crimes two to three times longer than they do now.
The State Government's controversial sentencing survey found a wide gap between the demands of the public and the legal profession.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the findings had steeled the Government's hardline approach on tougher sentences.

Many of the 18,000 respondents called for the toughest penalties for murder, drug trafficking and arson causing death.

They want judges to consider the impact on victims, and premeditation by the offender, as reasons for heavier punishment.

The heavier penalties demanded are already on the books, which means harsher punishment remains in the hands of the courts.

But the survey results will now be considered by the State Government as it shapes new minimum "baseline" sentences for serious crimes.

The survey also found:

OPPOSITION to parole for those convicted of murder and manslaughter.

RESPONDENTS who said they were lawyers were generally more likely to call for sentence discounts, while police were the least likely.

A LACK of criminal record, co-operation with police and a guilty plea were reasons to impose a lighter sentence.

Mr Clark said he was pleased with the response.

"While public commentary about sentencing issues is often dominated by experts and interest groups, this survey provided all Victorians with an opportunity to have their say," Mr Clark said.

Victorian Bar chairman Melanie Sloss, SC, said the survey should be treated with caution. She said the Sentencing Advisory Council was better placed to inform the Government.

Crime Victims Support Association president Noel McNamara said his criticisms of sentencing had been vindicated.

"It sends a clear message to the judges: you've got it wrong," Mr McNamara said.

Herald Sun

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