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August 4, 2008

Western Australia Takes Steps to End Mandatory One-Third Reductions in Criminal Sentences

In SL&P's attempt to cover the world of sentencing, we take note of an interesting story on the other side of the Pacific.  The Western Australian government has taken steps to repeal the transitional provisions of the truth in sentencing laws it passed in 2003, which required a mandatory one-third reduction, presumably to reflect better the actual time served by defendants after their sentences were handed down.  The laws came under renewed attack last month, when the WA Supreme Court ruled that they applied to all statutory offenses, even those passed after the sentencing laws were enacted, whose maximum penalties were thereby diluted.  The Attorney General, Jim McGinty, said that repealing the laws means judges will finally be able to impose the maximum sentence available for serious crimes.  An article on the topic explains that the proposal would:      

            

Repeal the Sentencing Act transitional provisions to stop judges giving compulsory one-third reductions when sentencing serious criminals. For the first time, judges will have the ability to impose maximum sentences.

Direct judges to be consistent in dishing out sentences by looking at precedents imposed for similar cases.

Give the Director of Public Prosecutions powers to apply to the court to re-sentence any offender who received a reduced sentence either initially or on appeal from August 1, 2008 up until the laws come into force later this year.

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The legislation will not repeal truth-in-sentencing laws, it will only repeal the transitional law that continues to require a one-third reduction in the sentence imposed. Truth in sentencing will be strengthened by the legislation not weakened. You may want to review the legislation and then amend your post.

Posted by: | Aug 4, 2008 1:46:02 PM

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