Victoria Attorney-General Robert Clark
Survey Results Give Victorians A Say On Sentencing
Victor P Taffa
The Victorian Coalition Government today published the results of its MyViews Sentencing Survey, in which more than 18,500 Victorians took part.
Attorney-General Robert Clark said the Sentencing Survey received a strong response from Victorians who welcomed the opportunity to have their say on sentencing.
“The MyViews Sentencing Survey is another example of the Victorian Coalition Government fulfilling our commitment to seeking the views of Victorians about key issues affecting the community,” Mr Clark said.
“The high level of response to the survey confirms the importance Victorians place on the just and effective operation of our criminal justice system and on the consequences that follow from criminal behaviour.
The survey was available online through the MyViews website from 27 July to 26 August this year, as well as through Department of Justice service centres and various media outlets that supported the survey.
Respondents were asked to hand down a sentence in 17 hypothetical criminal scenarios.
Respondents were then asked to indicate how a number of possible aggravating or mitigating factors would tend to increase or decrease the sentences they would impose.
The scenarios that attracted the highest average sentence levels were scenarios involving murder (life imprisonment), large-scale commercial drug trafficking (21-25 years imprisonment) and arson causing death (21-25 years imprisonment).
The scenarios that attracted the lowest average sentence levels were those involving sex with a 16 year old by an offender aged 18 (Community Correction Order), threats to kill (1-2 years imprisonment) and recklessly causing serious injury (1-2 years imprisonment).
The survey results showed that respondents were most likely to increase their sentences if the crime severely affected victims or if the crime was premeditated or involved a continuing attack against an incapacitated victim.
Respondents were most likely to reduce sentences if the offender did not have a criminal record, pleaded guilty straight away, helped police to arrest co-offenders, expressed genuine remorse or had completed a rehabilitation program.
Mr. Clark thanked participants for the time and thought they had given to completing the survey, and said the results had provided valuable feedback to the government and would help shape future government reforms.
“It was good to see there was a diverse range of people responding to the survey.” Mr. Clark said.
“Most people who completed the survey (53.3 %) said they had not had any direct interaction with the justice system, 9.6 % identified themselves as jurors, 9.5 % as victims of crime, 5 % as members of the legal profession and 3.3 % as offenders.
“Of survey respondents, 54.2 % identified themselves as being male and 41.6 % as being female.”
“The Government has already committed to and commenced the introductions of a range of sentencing reforms, including baseline sentences, statutory minimum sentences for gross violence offences and the abolition of suspended sentences.”
“The results also highlight the community’s concern about offences such as large scale commercial drug trafficking and culpable driving, which can have devastating consequences, particularly for the lives of young people and their families.” Mr. Clark said.