QLS welcomes return of Sentencing Advisory Council

Queensland Law Society has welcomed the re-instatement of the Sentencing Advisory Council – saying it was vital to the delivery of justice throughout the state.

President Christine Smyth yesterday (Thurs Jan 19) said the relaunch of SAC was consistent with QLS’s state Call to Parties document issued prior to the last Queensland election.

“The Sentencing Advisory Council is reflective of ongoing advocacy by QLS in making laws and the process of the courts wholly transparent to all Queenslanders,” Ms Smyth said.

In May last year, Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath announced that State Parliament had passed legislation re-establishing the Council, which was dismantled by Campbell Newman’s LNP Government in 2012.

“The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council will help explain sentencing to the wider community and seek Queenslanders’ views on sentencing related matters,” Ms D’Ath said at the time.

Ms Smyth said QLS was particularly pleased the Sentencing Advisory Council would be addressing the issue of over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our prisons.

“It has been 25 years since the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Royal Commission and little has changed,’’ she said.

“Despite making up a mere three percent of the general population, they make up to one third of our prison population.”

Ms Smyth said by listening to the community, particularly Townsville, there was a real opportunity to explore methods of reducing crime, protecting the community and ensuring that the victims in our community are given a voice.

“Over recent years we have seen members of the community perplexed and unhappy with some sentences imposed by judges and magistrates, and given that they are usually reported in a vacuum without much of the detail or context, this is understandable,” she said.

“Explaining the reasoning behind the sentences in an easy-to-understand way will increase public confidence in the judiciary.”

Ms Smyth also praised the fact the Council would play a role in collecting information regarding the effectiveness of sentences.

“Queensland Law Society has a standing commitment to evidence-based policy and having the Council work out what works and what doesn’t will lead to sentences which both protect the public and rehabilitate the offenders,” she said.

“This in turn will reduce crime with all the attendant benefits that carries. This really is a win for all concerned.”

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