The Andrews Labor Government today announced tough new laws to stop courts from using community correction orders (CCOs) for the most serious crimes – such as rape and murder.
The former Liberal Government’s CCO regime saw them imposed in cases where incarceration would have been more appropriate.
The Sentencing (Community Correction Order) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2016 will better align sentencing with community expectations, ensuring those convicted of the most serious criminal offences go to prison.
It will prevent the use of CCOs and other non-custodial orders for ten serious category 1 offences, including:
- Persistent sexual abuse of a child under the age of 16
- Sexual penetration of a child under the age of 12
- Incest (where the victim is under 18)
- Causing serious injury intentionally in circumstances of gross violence
- Causing serious injury recklessly in circumstances of gross violence
- Rape by compelling sexual penetration
- Trafficking a large commercial quantity of a drug of dependence
- Cultivating a large commercial quantity of a drug of dependence
CCOs and other non-custodial orders will also not be permitted, except where special reasons apply, for category 2 offences such as manslaughter, child homicide, kidnapping and intentionally causing serious injury.
Courts will only be able to apply a CCO for category 2 offences if special reasons can be demonstrated, such as the offender suffering impaired mental functioning.
The length of imprisonment that can be combined with a CCO will be halved from two years to one year or less. A non-parole period now cannot be fixed as part of a combined order – meaning offenders must serve their full term of imprisonment before beginning their CCO.
Currently, a CCO can be imposed for up to the maximum term of imprisonment for the relevant offence. The proposed laws will limit the maximum length a CCO can be imposed to five years.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“People who commit the most heinous crimes don’t deserve a slap on the wrist – they deserve to go to jail.”
“That’s what the community expects, and that’s what these tough new laws will deliver.”
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Martin Pakula
“The former Liberal Government failed to get this right – for the most serious crimes, the only appropriate sentence is a prison sentence.”
“This legislation will ensure that CCOs are not used for very serious offences where the community expects imprisonment.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020