Victoria: the soft-on-crime state

Is the rule of law completely breaking down in the Australian state of Victoria? Rampages by ethnic African gangs are disturbingly common, and ethnic Africans are shockingly over-represented in violent crime statistics. Yet, it seems all-too-common to read that another violent African offender was on bail for a string of previous offences.

Victoria’s bail laws have come under high-profile scrutiny before. From Bourke St rampage killer Dimitrious Gargasoulas, to serial rapist and murderer Adrian Bayley, a disturbing number of serious offenders have been bailed, only to go on to commit even more heinous crimes.

These cases and others prompted a review of Victoria’s bail laws last year, but now aspects of its sentencing regime are also under question. Quote:

Victorian sex offenders who rape children are receiving sentences equal to rapists with adult victims, sparking outrage among child safety campaigners about the greater impact of the crime on children.

The Australian examined data from the County Court of sentences handed down for rape, sexual penetration of a child and incest, in cases where the maximum jail term was 25 years or 300 months.

In 2017-18, the average term of imprisonment for the principal offence of raping an adult was 79 months six months more than the mean jail term for the principal offence of sexual penetration of a child under 12, or incest. End of quote.

The mixture of statistics here is a bit curious: an average is not the same thing as a mean, something many readers would not notice. Nonetheless, it seems clear that sentences for sexual offences against children are not being treated with the gravity one might expect. Quote:

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said rape and sexual assault was never OK and deserved harsh penalties.

However, crimes against children and the vulnerable are the most heinous and cowardly of crimes, she said Ms Johnston said the 2017-18 average of 73 months was 24 per cent of the maximum available. I understand the max sentence will not be applied in every instance because judges require some wriggle room in which to apply greater and lesser sentences according to individual considerations, but 75 per cent is way too much wriggle room, she said. When is the last time anyone got the 25 years?End of quote.

One factor that may be influencing the apparently lenient sentencing is the age of offenders by the time child sex offences go to court. Quote:

Data from the County Court showed nearly one quarter of finalised sex offence cases in 2017 were of historical nature. The average age of the offender at the time of offending was 32 and the average age of the offender at case finalisation was 59. End of quote.

Nonetheless, without diminishing the trauma inflicted on adult victims, it seems reasonable for the Victorian public to expect offences against children to be treated as far more heinous than against adults. Quote:

Blue Knot Foundation president Cathy Kezelman said while anyone who had been sexually assaulted could be deeply impacted, it was particularly difficult for children, who often were confused and did not have the words for sexual abuse.

She said these children did not know what was happening to them, were disempowered and were often assaulted by someone they knew and trusted. When they’re growing and developing their brain, the impacts can be more profound, she said. End of quote.

theaustralian


From the government openly thumbing its nose when its members are under investigation for electoral fraud, to revolving-door bail, Victorians could be forgiven for wondering if the rule of law actually means anything in their state at all.

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