“Prescribed minimum mandatory sentences are the very antithesis of just sentences”

CLANT has criticised the Northern Territory’s new mandatory sentencing laws as unfair, unprincipled, unworkable, unnecessary and unaffordable.

Amendments to the Sentencing Act (NT) were passed in the Territory Parliament on 14 February 2013, allowing for mandatory sentencing of certain categories of violent offenders.

President Russell Goldflam predicted that the laws would see more people, the great majority of them Aboriginal, going to gaol, although he expressed relief that the Attorney-General had at least provided exceptional circumstances provisions.

Mr Goldflam expressed particular sadness that this legislation was passed on the eve of the Ceremonial Sittings to farewell Justice Mildren on the occasion of his retirement after 21 years as a judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. 

Mildren J, a CLANT Life Member, has been a strong critic of mandatory sentencing both on and off the bench. In a media interview, he recently described mandatory sentencing as a “cancer”. His powerful and precise obiter inTrenerry v Bradley (1997) 6 NTLR 175 have been frequently cited: “prescribed minimum mandatory sentences are the very antithesis of just sentences”.

For further details, see this article at ABC News Online 15 February 2013.