Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Hume victims service backs tougher sentences

The acting manager of Hume Victims Assistance and Counselling Program has supported the Victorian Government's decision to increase the average sentence for serious crimes.

RIAHN SMITH April 7, 2014 3:40am

A Hume region victims of crime service has welcomed a Victorian Government move to toughen sentences for serious crimes.

The Coalition Government last week introduced legislation to increase the average sentence for serious crimes and mandate a minimum non-parole period.

Hume Victims Assistance and Counselling Program acting program manager Katrina Watts said tougher penalties could help support victims with the healing process.

‘‘For victims and their families, increased sentences for serious crime is something that may assist in helping them to move forward with their lives,’’ Ms Watts said.

‘‘It is a step in the right direction for them.’’

Attorney General Robert Clark said the new law was the first step in the introduction of baseline sentences.

Mr Clark said the present average sentence for offences such as murder, trafficking a commercial quantity of drugs, culpable driving causing death or sexual assault of minors was appallingly inadequate.

‘‘Under this reform, the law will require that cases of the sort that previously received the old median sentence will in future receive the baseline sentence,’’ Mr Clark said.

‘‘Thus, culpable driving cases of the sort that previously incurred the median sentence of 5 years in jail will in future incur the baseline sentence of nine years.

‘‘Cases that are more serious than average will be required to receive a higher sentence than the baseline, and cases that are less serious than average will be able to receive a sentence lower than the baseline.’’

The new law will also create mandatory minimum non-parole periods for baseline offences.

Offenders sentenced to 20 years or more will be required to serve a non-parole period of at least 70 per cent of the sentence in jail.

The non-parole period for those sentenced to less than 20 years must be at least 60 per cent of their sentence, while those sentenced to life imprisonment will be required to serve a non-parole period of at least 30 years in jail.

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