Remarks by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, President of the Commission, made at the release of the report, Sentencing Guidelines and Parole Reform
Our report, Sentencing Guidelines and Parole Reform, is being released today. The reforms it recommends, that the Prime Minister has already summarised, are much needed for several reasons.
The first reason is that different courts – and even different judges – are sentencing inconsistently, particularly for offences of lesser seriousness being dealt with in the District Court. We received a lot of anecdotal feedback about inconsistent practices, which was confirmed by empirical research. Anyone who is interested can find that research on our website.
The second reason is that the policy as to the type and length of sentence for different offences is not informed by the range of perspective, experience and values that is required in this area. Judges are largely left to determine that policy themselves. It is no criticism of the judiciary to say that, while they should be free to impose the appropriate sentence in the individual case, they are not equipped to bring to bear the range of factors that need to be considered in determining the policy on which those sentences are based.
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