theories of punishment

Topics: Criminal law, Crime, Prison Pages: 2 (961 words) Published: April 28, 2014

Upon inspection of the Criminal Code Act 1899 Queensland it is apparent that the law does not adequately punish criminal offenders or protect innocent citizens in the Queensland Criminal Justice System. All that is required is a superficial reading of this parliamentary document to understand where the problem lies. A brief flip through would allow even the most inexperienced of readers to glean that many crimes are given a specified maximum penalty and yet many are left with no minimum penalty to be discerned. It is this lack of minimum sentencing that causes this perceived “softness” of judges on crime in Queensland and ignores the principal goals of sentencing which are deterrence, protection and retribution. It is a problem that needs to be rectified in order for the community to have faith that justice will prevail.

One glaringly obvious example can be seen in section 320 of the Code: the section that deals with Grievous Bodily Harm. The offence of Grievous bodily harm is a particularly serious one that required severe wounding and potential long term effects as a result of a violent assault. For this offence there is a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment. Fourteen years being quite a substantial time for incarceration. However, there is no minimum, period of time specified for this offence. Because in the criminal justice system, it is the judge that has the discretion in deciding the sentence, it is possible under this section for an offender to be convicted of grievous bodily harm, and, should the judge see fit, not have any jail time as a consequence. To illustrate, in the case of R v Sargeant, Price & Freier, the defendants were convicted of grievous bodily harm after becoming involved in a fight at a hotel and causing the victim significant harm that required hospitalisation. The result of this case was 2 years imprisonment but suspended after 6 months. How then is this justice? The system is too soft on serious offenders and not just in...
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