Parliament to debate changes to mandatory sentencing Bill for mentally impaired this Thursday
On Thursday, Parliament will begin debating the Greens’ proposed changes to mandatory sentencing legislation, which would once again give courts appropriate discretion when sentencing people with significant mental impairment.
Greens MLC Alison Xamon first introduced the Bill in June, which amends the Criminal Code to ensure that mandatory sentencing provisions for assault on a public officer do not apply to persons whose judgment or behaviour at the time of the offence was impaired to a significant extent by mental impairment.
“I hope the government has listened to public and expert opinion and now has the courage to change the current flawed legislation. The Law Society of WA, mental health advocates and peak bodies, and families and carers of the mentally ill all want these changes,” Ms Xamon, Greens Spokesperson for Mental Health said today.
“We should allow our courts to determine whether mental impairment played a central role in any offence against a public officer and then decide the appropriate punishment and outcome for the offender. It shouldn’t be left for police and prosecutors to decide whether a mentally ill person is imprisoned. At the moment, a mentally ill person’s fate is determined by the charges brought against them, not by the courts. That’s a frightening prospect for everyone involved.
“West Australians have a right to expect that our system will protect its most vulnerable members. Mandatory sentencing has removed this capacity from our courts. The threat of jail hangs over the heads of those who, without criminal intent or fully cognizant of the consequences of their actions, cause harm to a public officer.
“I hope the government doesn’t claim that there are checks and balances in place to prevent mentally ill people being sent to jail, because it’s not true. Not only are the mentally impaired continuing to get caught up in our criminal justice system, there are many families and carers of mentally ill people living in a state of fear about how mandatory sentencing could affect people they care for and love. I hope the Barnett/Grylls government can put party politics aside and support these changes before more injustices occur,” Ms Xamon added.
For further comment contact Alison
Hon Alison Xamon MLC
Member for the East Metropolitan Region
Office: 62 Eighth Ave Maylands WA 6051
Postal Address: PO Box 104 Maylands WA 6931
Phone: (08) 9272 1718
Fax: (08) 9272 1719
Portfolios: Water, Urban Bushland, Mental Health, Education, Training, Industrial Relations, Employment, Occupational Health & Safety, Disabilities, Women, Children & Youth, Public Service, Community Services,Electoral Affairs, Consumer Protection, Vet Affairs, Volunteering