Suspended jail terms no longer an option

MAGISTRATES will be the ones with their hands tied when it comes to sentencing offenders in Victoria in future.

Suspended jail terms will no longer be an option for them.

The move applies to all crimes after September 1, and makes Victoria the first state to completely remove suspended sentences.

Suspended jail terms — scrapped in the Victorian County and Supreme courts in 2011 — will be replaced by community correction orders that can set curfews, restrict an offender’s movements and require them to perform up to 600 hours of community work.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the move delivered on a promise to restore truth in sentencing, and it will be popular with many.

There is a perception that a suspended sentence is somewhat of a “cop out”, and that any jail term should mean jail time. But often the thinking of the courts is a jail term “hanging over” one’s head is an incentive for them to do the right thing.

Nonetheless, if a magistrate is of the mind a jail term is not appropriate, they are not without options under the new rules.

The community will appreciate a more transparent approach to sentencing.