My view on mandatory sentencing

There has been a lot of talk lately about the inadequacy and inaccuracy of prison sentences, relative to the seriousness

There has been a lot of talk lately about the inadequacy and inaccuracy of prison sentences, relative to the seriousness of the crime. Murderers get 15 years or so, while rapists may only have to suffer for 10, and they often get out early on parole. Then there was the little monster who, while riding a ‘monkey’ bike (whatever that is), knocked down and killed a young woman, a mother with children, going about her own business, and he didn’t even stop to see if he could help her in any way. He has since failed to turn up at court on about six occasions when he had been ordered to and amazingly, each time he has been allowed to stay free – and he still is as I write this. There’s definitely something wrong with the system somewhere! Magistrates and judges seem to be too lenient in the punishments they hand down and then it seems, they do all they can to make sure the prisoner is set free as early as possible, on parole.

I am of the opinion that the choice of punishment should be taken away from the courts, with jail terms etc., being mandatory for each crime and set out in law. I can think of a few sentences that could be taken into consideration, (though bear in mind this is just me thinking aloud), which might or might not, make the job of law-keeping much easier to work with. Here are a few of my ideas:

  1. Murder (pleading not guilty) – a full life sentence with no parole, but pleadings allowed.
  2. Murder (pleading guilty) – 30 years, with parole possible after 20 years, pleadings allowed.
  3. Rape – Full life sentence with no parole and no pleadings allowed.
  4. Pedophilia – Full life sentence with no parole and no pleadings.
  5. Manslaughter – 20 years with parole possible after 15 years.
  6. Assault on police – Five years with parole possible after four years.
  7. Theft, over $100,000 value – 20 years with parole possible after 15 years.
  8. Theft, over $50,000 value – 15 years with parole possible after 10 years.
  9. Theft, over $10,000 value – 10 years with parole possible after seven years.
  10. Minor thefts, below $10,000 dollars value – eight years with parole possible after six years.
  11. 10 years for each $100,000 gained. Parole possible after eight years per 10 year unit.
  12. Car theft (joy-riding) – 18 months with parole possible after one year.
  13. Car theft (professional) – three years with parole possible after two years and two months.
  14. One year with parole possible after nine months.
  15. Minor crimes (pick-pockets, rude or insulting behaviour in public, shop-lifting, bicycle theft, racial taunts, etc.) – 10 months with parole possible after eight months.
  16. Public nuisance, vagrancy, etc – six months with parole possible after four months.

This is just a list I’ve toyed around with as I wrote it and I’m sure many readers of ‘Starts at Sixty’ will disagree with some, if not all, of my suggestions. But please remember, they are just that, a few ideas that might be interesting to kick around for a while. Many people would say there is no room for politics to involve themselves in judicial matters and I have no argument against that either. I would just be very interested to hear what other people think about the way our courts operate and what sort of rules and controls they should operate under. It’s a very interesting subject, to which there will naturally be many answers. I would love to hear what thoughts all the millions who follow our site, think about the subject.

Tell us, what are your thoughts?

  1. Ronin  

    I agree with the principle, but think some of your suggested sentences are onerous, especially at the lower end of the scale. I agree with mandatory minimums, which the judge or magistrate has the power to increase but not decrease.

    I would also like to see mandatory jail terms for corporate chief executives whose organisations are found to have engaged in fraudulent or illegal behaviour. That would change corporate cultures!

    • Darren  

      And it should be taken a step further/ anyone from any country who commites a criminal offense to be immediately deported with their immediate family so that there is no argument about the offender being the bread winner/ not until we harden up on offenders will our society be safe/ or make the offender live with the judge

    • Brian Lee  

      Yes, the list was only intended as an idea of the sort of thing that should be thought of, the actual times I listed were literally as something came to mind while I wrote. Naturally, should some scheme like this ever be introduced, these things and times would need to be considered by people much more clever than me!

  2. jan dodson  

    What about sentences for rapists and paedophiles. Gang rape. Paedophiles (proven) castrated and 20 years and placed in mainstream prisons. Also photo and name published. Not hidden away. Rapists 15 years plus. Gang rapists 15 yrs plus each. Courts not to be allowed to hide their faces. Names and photos published. No more bail. Murderers, rapists, paedophiles all to be microchipped before they are released. Dogs and cats have to be microchipped, so why not them.

    • Robyn Jefferson  

      Castration doesn’t work.

  3. Denise Schutz  

    they was something like this put out years ago, but it was never implemented. Its the judges that need to wake up and do there jobs probadly, and give these criminals there sentence and no pussy footing around, A lot of the are terrible crimes and only get a few years, Rape is another one that needs to be adjusted is a discussing crime and they do get very much jail time, no wonder they repeat affences they is not justice in this bloody country right now it all seems to be on the criminals side, This country needs to wake up to this and make sentences harder and longer, stuff the bloody do gooders, We defiantly need more stiffer sentences and no parole. Think of those poor family who are the victims

  4. Agree with most of these. However, our overcrowded gaols must be taken into consideration. As they’ve found in many countries, prisoners have to be let out on parole to make way for other more ‘serious’ offenders. Still don’t understand why prisoners are not working in public works – road gangs, litter collection, cleaning etc. A couple of guards with shotguns to supervise.

    • Ken Jonston  

      Vonnie you have answered your own question – who supervises. Also what happens if an offender escapes ?? That seems to be more likely if they are out in the open.
      Harsher minimum sentences must be applied and a sentence for each crime ie 2 crimes at 10 years equals 2 years etc. not 10 years for the 2.

  5. Keith Schadel  

    Having been the victim of an unprovoked assault four years ago, resulting in grand mal seizure with resulting brain surgery and many fractures, having to learn to walk, talk and read again, with life long problems that l have to live with each day, maybe l am a little biased.
    But to see the offender, walk away with 12 months suspended sentence, because he eventually pleaded guilty to assault occassioning grievous bodily harm saving the Courts time, was to me then, and still is a sick joke. The DPP had 3 similar cases with similar results before the same Judge on the same day. Both they and the Police were so upset, all the work and encouragement they put in, for nothing.
    Personally, l am of the opinion, after watching so many similar so called judgements, that it is time we demanded that the secure lifetime tenure of the Judiciary be taken away and they face Public election, maybe, then they will sentance according to public expectations, after all, the Public pay their exorbitant salaries and in truth are there employers.

    • Ken Jonston  

      Keith, I understand your grief – a similar injury happened to my son in law. He too is left with lifetime problems. However public election will most likely result in appointment of the person who pays the most. Better for judges to be better educated in the results of crime. They should have mandatory time spent with the victims of crimes such as yours, rape, paedophiliea, domestic violence and so on. Much time spent in hospital wards would be much more likely to bring changes to the attitudes of judges.

  6. The watcher  

    You must be a shareholder in Serco.

    • Brian Lee  

      Sorry Mr Watcher, I don’t get it – what does sentencing criminals have top do with job searching?

      • And what has Serco got to do with job searching? Serco are the mob who control most of our prisons and the inhumane detention centres

  7. Dot Parker  

    I believe murder should get life meaning until they die, and what about mass murder there is no mention there (never to be released)

  8. I’d prefer to see a combination of mandatory and discretionary for all offences against the person. That would mean all rapists eg, would be sentenced for say 6 months with a magistrate or judge being able to add to the sentence to the allocated maxima. That way substandard sentences would be less likely,

  9. [email protected]  

    Yes, i agree whole- heartly with you Brian, but Gov’n mt would need to build MORE jails. I would let them use computors but NOT internet for personal use.

  10. Jonathon  

    My thoughts are still bring back C.P!
    There’s GOT to be a sentence that’s a deterrent.
    Currently, some are out in 15 years’. Just disgusting! They live in ‘Hotel Gaol’, with much MORE privileges at their disposal than our Pensioners’.

    Murderers’, rapist-murderers’, & paedophiles, in the old sentencing words, should be ‘hanged by the neck, until you are dead’.

    Until the judiciary apply ‘time to fit the crime’, these scum will continue to offend.
    ‘Life’ should mean, as it used to, to the day you die. NO parole whatsoever! Actually, parole should be totally scrapped. How many crims have committed heinous acts whilst ‘on parole’. What a load of garbage!

    With Forensic Science now advanced to the nearly the nth degree, there’re no more ‘mistaken culprits’.

  11. Frank  

    I learned in law studies at uni – it’s easy to say ‘lock ’em up and throw away the key !’ – until it’s your child accused of a heinous crime – which you believe they didn’t do – then suddenly you want all the defenses of the law to comb over the evidence to ‘prove beyond a reasonable doubt’

    I was also told that mandatory sentencing – while sounding nice and easy – tends to have the effect that criminals – knowing that if they get caught – will definitely go to jail for a Long Time – then prefer to make sure there’s no witnesses – so prefer to kill the victim rather than leave them alive

    so – mandatory sentencing makes criminals more likely to kill you – when would you like it to start ?

  12. Frank  

    oh – if you want mandatory sentencing – last night’s TV – of a Canadian teacher couple with top reputation at a top school in Jakarta Indonesia – one crazy mother after money starts accusing them of sexual assualt – and based on NO PROOF at all – just her wild accusations – the Canadian guy is found guilty of rape

    that’s how mandatory sentencing can work – don’t bother with the evidence – right ?

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