Do the crime, do the time

THE Victorian government has introduced far-reaching sentencing reforms into Parliament, increasing the penalty for serious crimes including murder and culpable driving causing death.

Offenders also face much more time in jail for large-scale commercial drug trafficking and child sex offences.

The changes affect a broad range of matters.

Attorney-General Robert Clark yesterday said the changes followed a 2012 report from the Sentencing Advisory Council that highlighted the inadequacy of penalties for offences, particularly child sex abuse and culpable driving.

The proposals follow earlier reforms that have included abolishing home detention and suspended sentences, tougher community corrections orders and a four-year statutory minimum non-parole period for gross violence.

Mr Clark said the average sentence for murder would be 25 years, with 14 years for large-scale trafficking and nine years for culpable driving causing death.

Incest with a child under 18 would attract 10 years, sexual penetration of a child under-12 10 years and persistent sexual abuse of a child under-16 10 years.

“The average sentence for some of these offences is appallingly inadequate,” Mr Clark said.

“Those who traffic large commercial quantities of drugs, inflicting life-long suffering on young people and their families, now receive an average sentence of seven years.

“The average for sexual penetration of a child under 12 is only 3½ years.

“Sexual abuse of children is completely unacceptable, whether in an institution or in the home.

“Those who sexually abuse children, often shattering their faith and confidence in adults close to them whom they have loved and trusted, deserve the strongest community condemnation.”

The bill is the first stage of the government’s drive for baseline sentences.

“Culpable driving cases of the sort that previously incurred the median sentence of 5½ years jail will incur the baseline of nine years,” Mr Clark said.

“Cases more serious than average will require a higher sentence than the baseline, and less serious cases than average will receive a sentence lower than the baseline.”

Offenders sentenced to 20 years or more will be required to serve a non-parole period of at least 70 per cent of the sentence.

The non-parole period for those sentenced to less than 20 years must be at least 60 per cent of their sentence, while those sentenced to life imprisonment would be required to serve a non-parole period of at least 30 years.