Mandatory sentencing: rights and wrongs


These closing remarks provide a summary of views presented at the Mandatory Sentencing Symposium. While there are no constitutional impediments to state laws implementing mandatory sentencing, the practice may be in breach of international conventions, or at least of international standards. The impact of mandatory sentencing has fallen disproportionately on disadvantaged people, particularly Aboriginal people. Mandatory sentencing is often justified by the argument from democracy, but the self interests of the majority, if not restrained, can be destructive of the interests of the minority. The balance of interests can be maintained by an independent judiciary, and if we lose trust in the judgment of our political leaders they should not be surprised if the Australian people seek a Bill of Rights to protect themselves against political excesses. (Introduction).

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