The ABA has consistently opposed the use of mandatory sentencing regimes, which prescribe mandatory minimum sentences upon conviction for criminal offences as unacceptable restrictions on judicial discretion and independence undermining fundamental rule of law principles.

Mandatory sentencing laws are arbitrary and limit an individual’s right to a fair trial by preventing judges from imposing an appropriate penalty based on the unique circumstances of each offence and offender.

Mandatory sentencing disproportionately impacts upon particular groups within society, including Indigenous peoples, juveniles, persons with a mental illness or cognitive impairment, or the impoverished. Such regimes are costly and there is a lack of evidence as to their effectiveness as a deterrent or their ability to reduce crime.

The ABA contributed to the development of a national mandatory sentencing policy by the Law Council of Australia and supports this policy in all respect of all criminal sanctions.