Jessica Craven in the Herald Sun
Anglican Archibishop of Melbourne Dr Phillip Freier has lashed out at the Baillieu Government's mandatory sentencing plan for juveniles, describing it as a flawed plan which would delay justice for both perpetrators and the victims of crime.
Law Institute of Victoria President Caroline Counsel and University of Melbourne Associate Professor in Psychology Jeanette Lawrence also criticised the proposed policy during a public forum held by the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne at Federation Square this morning.
The Victorian government is awaiting advice from the Sentencing Advisory Council on its mandatory minimum sentencing policy, under which offenders aged 16 and 17 who commit assaults with ''gross violence'' would be jailed for two years except in very unusual circumstances.
Dr Freier said the proposal would not rehabilitate young offenders and could not take into account the uniqueness of each person and the particular circumstances of each crime.
"Given all the issues of their development, I think we all hope for their rehabilitation," he said.
"I believe that it is very important that their individual circumstances are to the forefront of any issues when something awful happens like violent crime."
He said the increase in those not pleading guilty under the proposed new sentencing law "would also add to the burden of an already overworked judicial system and delay justice for both the perpetrator and the victim of the crime."
Law Institute President Caroline Counsel said the policy was "ill-conceived and ill-advised" and that mandatory sentencing for juveniles had been an "abject failure" in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
"It's so simplistic to say there's the crime, there's the punishment, that's not what justice is about," she said.
"They are going to come out better criminals rather than being rehabilitated."
Professor Lawrence, who is a developmental psychologist, said 16 and 17-year-olds were not adults and did not have the ability to fully assess risk and recklessness and the future consequences of their actions.
"We do need to think about rehabilitation and restoration much more," she said.
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