Queensland Law Society president Ken Taylor. Picture: Evan Morgan
Queensland Law Society president Ken Taylor. Picture: Evan Morgan

Child killers should not cop mandatory sentencing: Law Society

THE state's peak legal body has warned against mandatory sentencing for child killers, instead calling for a campaign to educate the public on how the courts work.

In a submission to the State Government's review of sentences for child killers, Queensland Law Society president Ken Taylor reiterated the group's long-held stance against mandatory sentencing, claiming it prevented judges from "fashioning a sentence appropriate to the facts".

It comes after previous submissions from individuals and advocacy groups overwhelmingly called for tougher sentencing and a higher percentage of jail terms actually served behind bars.

Mr Taylor, who was voted in as president late last year, said education on sentencing was more important.

"In our view, the government should carefully consider the implementation of a community education program to inform the public of sentencing decisions," he said.

"The society considers that educating the public is the most appropriate method of managing the public perception that sentences for infanticide are inadequate.

"The research suggests that if the community had access to comprehensive evidence on criminal justice sentencing and trends and were properly informed, they would be generally satisfied with sentencing outcomes."

The review, ordered by the Attorney-General last year, is due to be completed by October 31.

Other submissions have expressed concern that criminals convicted over the death of a child were not serving enough time behind bars.

The Queensland Homicide Victims' Support Group said in its submission that child killers should serve 75 per cent of a manslaughter sentence, labelling the more common 30 per cent "unacceptable".

The group also called for the complete removal of suspended sentences and the increased use of indefinite prison terms.

Advocacy group Protect All Children Today acknowledged the need for judicial discretion in sentencing, but said sentences for child homicides needed to be more harsh given the vulnerability of the victims.

John and Susan Sandeman, whose 16-month-old grandson was murdered in Townsville seven years ago, called for parole to be abolished completely for child killers.


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