Qld Rules Against Violent Offenders Under Review | Mandurah Courier
The parole laws of some of Queensland’s worst criminals have come under the spotlight following pressure from a victims’ support group.
Crimes such as manslaughter, grievous bodily harm, torture, rape, sex with a child, and drug trafficking are among those categorized as “seriously violent offices.”
The state’s Sentencing Advisory Board is considering an ‘80% rule’ that requires an offender to serve 80% of their prison sentence or 15 years, whichever is less, before they can apply for release conditional.
Queensland Homicide Victim Support Group chief executive Brett Thompson said criminals who stabbed, strangled and shot victims frequently avoided the SVO scheme.
“Based on the experiences of group members, the program is not doing what it was supposed to do,” Mr. Thompson wrote in a submission to the board.
“Our position regarding the Serious Violent Offender Scheme is that it appears well-intentioned, but its application appears to have been inconsistent at best and avoided at worst.”
The scheme was introduced in 1997 with the then Attorney General stating that the approach was based on the expectation of the community that “the sentence imposed will reflect the true facts and the seriousness of the violence and harm in a case given”.
An SVO declaration is mandatory for a person sentenced to 10 years or more in prison, for one of the specified offences.
It can also be imposed at the discretion of a judge, as in the case of a prison sentence of five to ten years for one of the listed offences.
The rule also means offenders can spend 20% or less of their sentence on parole if their application is granted, a concern raised by Legal Aid Queensland.
“The LAQ is of the view that a reduction in community supervision for offenders who commit the most heinous offenses may not offer the best outcome for long-term community protection,” the LAQ said. organization.
“It seems likely that longer periods of supervision in the community would be more effective.”
The Queensland Court of Appeal raised this concern when it amended the sentence of pedophile Sterling Mervyn Free who sexually assaulted a seven-year-old girl after taking her to a Kmart store in 2018.
“Community protection is not achieved by actual incarceration alone,” the Court of Appeal judges concluded.
“It is also achieved by parole board supervision, before a person can be paroled; and by supervision of the person, on parole, if released, for the remainder of their sentence. , while she adjusts from custody and back into the community.
“Allowing the possibility of a parole eligibility date at an earlier stage (at 80%) has two potential benefits. to rehabilitation and, appropriately, cases, to allow for a longer period of conditional supervision, outside of the prison environment, which may provide greater long-term community protection.
Legal Aid Queensland maintains that offenders with an SVO declaration can be released into the community without any supervision.
Some data suggests that SVO offenders who simply never applied for parole included 14% of offenders convicted of having a relationship with a child, 13% of offenders convicted of rape, and 14% of offenders convicted of manslaughter, his submission indicates.
Legal Aid Queensland refers to research recognizing parole as an attempt to prevent recidivism and suggesting that parole has a beneficial impact on recidivism.
The Australian Lawyers Alliance has called for the scheme to be scrapped, saying it discourages people from pleading guilty to serious offences, creating an additional burden for the courts.
“Ultimately, only the courts have access to the facts, circumstances and contexts in which a particular offense is committed,” his memoir states.
“It is therefore appropriate that the courts have the ultimate discretion to determine the appropriate sentence for a particular offense which has been proven, subject to the principles and maximum penalty which have been determined by Parliament.”
Similarly, the Queensland Law Society calls for discretion over the declaration of an SVO to be left in court, depending on the case.
It indicates that giving discretion to the judge promotes “an individualized justice that is more likely to support positive outcomes than a ‘one size fits all’ or ‘one size fits all’ method”.
A final report with recommendations must be provided to Attorney General Shannon Fentiman by April 11.
Australian Associated Press