NSW politicians who support mandatory sentencing would be well advised to see the film Gideon's Army, which premiered yesterday at Sydney's Big Picture Film Festival. It profiles three public defenders in the southern United States, one of whom, Brandy Alexander, is visiting Australia to promote the film. Ms Alexander was interviewed on the Seven Network's Sunrise program and brings a sobering message for local politicians:
"Minimum mandatory sentences do no prevent crime. In fact most people convicted under these laws do not know of the minimum sentences. The people who tend to commit crimes don’t tend to watch news or make themselves informed of mandatory sentences. If the goal is to rehabilitate as well as punish then mitigating circumstances are very important. You want to know how you are to rehabilitate the person in the least amount of time. There is no way to take account of that if you are simply imposing mandatory sentences.
"If you sentence a 20-year old to minimum mandatory they will spend the better part of their adult life behind bars before they get out and they will be in no way prepared to rejoin society. You need to get young people out before they become better criminal."