News State NSW News Mandatory sentencing for alcohol assaults won’t work

Mandatory sentencing for alcohol assaults won’t work

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The New South Wales Law Society says the state government’s one size fits all approach to alcohol fuelled assaults is seriously flawed.

President Ros Everett says the government’s bill to introduce mandatory sentencing is a trigger reaction, that has been rushed before parliament.

Ms Everett says such offences need to be treated with judicial discretion, considering all factors of an offence.

She says it is ludicrous that somebody who’s stone cold sober that intentionally attacks or kills someone could get a lighter sentence than someone who’s intoxicated.

“It’s tempting in these circumstances for the community and the government to demand quick fix,” she said.

“The reality is there’s no quick fix.”

“It’s legislation that is cobbled together on the run, with a lot of amendments and changes, it just won’t work, in fact we think it’ll cause more problems than it’s trying to fix.”

Local members for Murrumbidgee Adrian Piccoli and Murray Darling MP John Williams are being urged to oppose the legislation.

The society is concerned mandatory sentencing aimed to curb alcohol fuelled violence could discriminate against people with a disability.

President, Ros Everett says the creation of a new definition of ‘intoxication’ relies heavily on the judgement of police and is too subjective.

She says the readily available technology to test for drugs and alcohol should be used rather than putting the onus on police.

“We’re hoping that the police will certainly be well trained,” she said.

“You could have someone who’s got an illness and medical condition where they may look like they’re intoxicated.”

“Someone may have had one drink.”

“I can look at a person and think yes they’re seriously affected by alcohol someone else may look at the same person and say not they’re not, so it’s very dangerous territory.”

The law body says mandatory sentencing for one punch attacks won’t work to deter perpetrators.

Ros Everett says the current legislation already deals with every type of assault factoring in individual circumstances and sentences can be appealed if either party isn’t satisfied.

She says research indicates mandatory sentencing is not a deterrent at all.

“Someone who goes out and becomes intoxicated is not thinking if I punch someone if I’m 0.05 I’m not going to go to jail,” she said.

“But if I punch someone and I’m 0.15 which is high range intoxication this is going to land me in jail.”

“The studies have shown high visibility policing is the main deterrent, high lighting dark areas, things like CCTV.”