INTRODUCING mandatory minimum sentences for sex offences is an unsophisticated, "easy" solution that will not reduce rates of sexual abuse, Sexual Assault Support Services chief executive Liz Little has said.
The state opposition has said it would introduce mandatory minimum sentences for child sex offences and some child pornography offences if elected next year.
But Ms Little, who is also a member of the Tasmanian Sentencing Advisory Council, said sexual offences required tailored sentencing options to address the reason for the offending and reduce the chance of recidivism.
"I don't believe that imprisonment actually deals as a deterrent in this area," Ms Little said.
"It's a fair enough question to ask whether the sentences are appropriate, and I know that the view in the community can be that they are not, but I just think that the whole idea of a mandatory sentencing function is a remarkably unsophisticated response to it."
Ms Little said less than 10 per cent of all instances of child sex abuse make it to the sentencing stage, so efforts to reduce child sex offences would be better spent overhauling the court process than imposing stronger sentences.
"Victims need access to justice, they don't necessarily need a hanging judge," she said.
Australian Lawyers Alliance president Greg Barns said mandatory sentencing policies only served to "warehouse prisoners" without reducing crime.
"The $1900 that it costs per day to house a prisoner would be much better spent ensuring that we deal with rehabilitating people so they don't offend again," Mr Barns said. The Tasmanian Sentencing Advisory Council, Tasmanian Law Reform Institute, and Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council - chaired by the new head of the Tasmanian council, Arie Freiberg - have all advised against mandatory sentences for various crimes.
Opposition justice spokeswoman Vanessa Goodwin said the certainty of going to jail for a significant period of time would act as both a deterrent to would-be sex offenders and an assurance to the community.
"We are listening to what the community has to say about this and they don't want to see lenient sentences given for sex offences," Dr Goodwin said.
Acting Attorney-General Michelle O'Byrne called on Dr Goodwin to produce evidence that mandatory sentencing worked to reduce crime.