8 January 2007

Sentencing Recommendations on RIOTACT?

| luca
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The spirited discussion of Ms Amber Jane Westin leads me to make the following proposal to the RIOTACT Community …

In NSW the Chief Justice has established sentencing guidelines for his Justices. Now I think that would be a terrible concept to be introduced in the ACT. However, if RIOTACT set up a forum for people to suggest sentences for convicted offenders then it may be, if ACT justices were alerted to the existence of the facility, the opinion of a representative sample of Canberrans could be given due consideration in the sentencing process.

You see, everyone in Government (including the Courts) wants to know the state of public opinion. In theory, community attitudes are a relevant consideration for judicial officers when imposing sentences. In reality its more a case of the Court saying “we know best”. However if this proposal was implemented then any ACT Justice that was intent on properly applying the law would consider the views expressed in the various posts.

A little ambitious? Unrealistic? Naïve? Perhaps, but remember judicial officers are human beings and as such, are curious. They may well want to take a little peek at such a site for interest and interest could lead to taking the situation a little more seriously and …

Someone, somewhere in the ACT community has to make a serious start on letting the ACT Courts know that their sentences are way out of line!

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To be convicted of dangerous driving it would have to be proven that your driving was exactly that…dangerous. Not negligent, not a bit silly, but dangerous.

A judge can’t impose a sentence more than the mandated maximum. So what your saying is that a person who is convicted of a dangerous act shouldn’t receive a penalty mandated by law?

Before you start to rant about how good or bad elected members of the judiciary are, maybe you should know a bit about the law. The judge can’t exceed the limitations set by statute

Imagine you are involved in a non-fatal accident and end up being charged with, say, dangerous driving.
…and your judge is up for re-election…and say the judge is being criticised by his opponent for having being “way out of line” with his previous cases; and say the judge’s opponent happens to be in the same political party as the editor of the local rag which just happens to get all Marcus Einfeld on your beak and run a campaign to the effect that he is “ignorant” of community views etc.

Reckon you’d get a fair suck of the sauce bottle?

Still reckon elected judges are a good idea?

While we’re on the topic of considered improvements to criminal justice, maybe we could also think about importing some other bright ideas from America like making gun ownership mandatory?
(It’s the law in Kenesaw County, Georgia -http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3b51f81f0ff9.htm)

Or spending $110 million of ACT taxpayers money to lock 2400 prisoners away (assuming 737 prisoners per 100000 population – USA style – http://www.criticaltimes.com.au/news/international/us-has-most-prisoners-in-world-due-to-tough-laws/
and assuming a (very) low estimate of $45k per prisoner per year -http://www.agsm.edu.au/~bobm/papers/ajmdec91.pdf

Or could be we should be thinking outside the square and getting the money for the jails by borrowing another idea from America and scrimping on the courts entirely, Guantanamo Bay style?

Or otherwise just close all the schools to pay for the new justice system…chances are the little punks were headed for jail anyway of course

Another viable idea is to raise taxes to pay for all the new prisoners…

Sarcasm really isnt my forte so lets put it to the RiotAct referendum…

bloody good suggestion, jellen, elected judicial officers!

Do you work for the Daily Telegraph?

I personally love the fact that Canberra’s residents, pollies and papers dont play the mind numbingly ignorant game of Laura Norder. To quote the bumper sticker with tongue firmly in cheek – If you don’t love it, leave.

In America, they have elected judicial officers in many jurisdictions and you can imagine how incredibly impartial and considered the decisions must be, particularly come election time.

This proposal was carried by an underwhelming minority of … one!

Woody Mann-Caruso10:04 pm 09 Jan 07

I want to see punishment fit crime –
Hands get cut off for theives.
male appendage get cut off for rape

I’m sorry, Mr Smith – as sometimes happen, the judiciary got it wrong. New evidence shows that you didn’t rape Mrs Jones then steal her handbag. Here are your hands and your penis. in a ziploc bag. You might want to get those on ice.

Here’s my recommendations (from Cannibal! The Musical!)
(imagine a Oklahoma! style musical number).

Hang the bastard, hang him high.
Hoist his body to the sky.
It’s as nice as a day can be.
Won’t you come to the hanging with me?

Hang the bastard, hang him high.
Hoist his body to the sky.
It’s as nice as a day can be.
Won’t you come to the hanging with me?

Hang the bastard, hang him well.
Send his sorry soul to hell.
When his neckbone snaps we’ll know.
When the cannibal won’t be killing anymore.

His face will turn red,
Then purple, then blue.
We’ll watch from up here
To get a good view.
And when his eyes bug out we’ll know,
It’s the end of him
And the end of the show!

So hang the bastard, hang him with cheer.
We’ll make some hot dogs
And drink a few beers.
And when his tongue rolls out we’ll know,
It’s the end of the show
And we all can go home!

But not till we hang the bastard, hang him here.
The most exciting thing this town has seen in years.
When his body stops jerking we’ll know,
It’s the end of him, it’s the end of him,
It’s the end of him,
And the end of the show.

[Cowbell solo]

So hang the bastard, hang him high.
Kiss his guilty butt goodbye.
It’s as nice as a day can be.
Won’t you come to the hanging with me?

His veins will pop out all over his head.
We’ll tickle his armpits to make sure he’s dead.
And when his tongue rolls out we’ll know,
It’s the end of him and we all can go home!

But not till we
Hang the bastard, hang him high.

Hoist his body to the sky.
When his body stops jerking we’ll know,
It’s the end of him, it’s the end of him,
It’s the end of him!
Let’s get on with the show!


But at least the lynching would occur after the judicial system found the perp guilty.

Could we not. If the judiciary always took notice of the vociferous calls on sentencing, there’d be a lynching every other day.

Jeebers! Maybe we can televise them like Judge Judy and the Hussein execution. The judicial and correctional systems could be net contributors to the ACT Budget.

Summernats, XXXX Movies and televised justice – it’s all good.

death sentences are the soft option for people who commit murder in my book.

I want to see punishment fit crime –
Hands get cut off for theives.
male appendage get cut off for rape
frontal lobotomies for all druggies (that way they can remain in a state of bliss or dealers can feel what it does to their customers)
murderers get their life taken away.
welfare cheats get sent to work. etc etc

I would like to see bail conditions enforced – at least the second time they are broken.

Similarly I would like to see youth good behaviour bonds enforced, rather than just extended and extended for each new crime.

But all that said, I would like to see significant improvements made at Quamby, and more serious rehabilitation in prisons. That prisons are known to make people worse must be the reason magistrates seem to avoid sending people there, no matter what they have done.

And I would like to see a lock-up rehab facility to deal with those who are currently let off becuase ‘drugs/alcohol made them do it.’.

I would like to see the mitigating circumstances surrounding the criminals background have less influence on sentencing.

Death to spies and traitors
and I feel we should bring back the lynch mob waiting out the front of the magistrates
because you know thats the only way they’ll ever take any notice of our opinions

I’m not sure if it would work on RiotAct because everything here is so anonymous. There’s no accountability and nobody has to think about what they suggest or take responsibility for their actions. We can all rant about how someone like AJW should be burnt at the stake without having to really consider the consequences and the outcome could be bad.

Great idea.
My suggestion would be to leave to the judicial arm of this fabulous democracy, irrespective of which aspect of it you think needs improvement in its service delivery.

The only way this can be actively changed by the populus is by ensuring that the elected good folks at the LA are willing and able to mandate change via placing legislation and pushing them through to law.

Hmmmm – although the Crime (Sentencing) Act 2005 is actually about sentencing options and flexibility. Encouraging the judiciary to provide sentencing that is “constructively adapted to individual offenders” [rude snort]!?!!

I’m not sure how it is possible to sensibly test the sentences handed down by the judiciary against the principles espoused.

Some lobbying on the matter wouldn’t go astray, but we know our current leaders are marching to their own philosophical, ethical and moral drummers and so aren’t too likely to pay attention to community dissent.

VYBerlinaV8_now with_added_grunt9:01 am 09 Jan 07

My hope is that sentencing looks at the bigger picture of the person’s life, within the context of the crime committed. If a person has a clean record, and has shown themself to be a law abiding citizen (which is where we all start), the first punishment shouldn’t be too severe (depending, of course, on the crime). Serial offenders should be dealt with a bit more harshly, however.

Criminal action leading to death needs to be taken very seriously, however.

There are already 26 sentencing principles which judicial officers are required to take into account. Those principles are in legislation. If you don’t like them, lobby your local member.

Make way for the ranting masses the day that becomes public knowledge.

In many countries, no judicial officer will give a camel’s fart for the opinion of the masses. (Indeed, a forum like RiotACT would be banned). Also, most people who take part in this type of forum usually have a particular axe to grind and cannot be seen as ‘representative’. I doubt their views are taken too seriously by ACT judicial officers. Most people stay silent. I think Miss R is right.

Woody Mann-Caruso12:43 am 09 Jan 07

We live in a diverse, pluralist society. Come back when you have a definition of ‘representative’ can explain how a ‘cross-section’ could hold an opinion, as opposed to a whole range of opinions, and how a ‘representative cross-section’ is qualified to comment on matters of law and justice. There was an interesting article in the paper over the weekend about juries which showed that some enormous proportion of members couldn’t even explain what verdict they’d reached, or what it meant. I’d rather leave complex legal matters to the experts rather than Joe Mouthbreather, thanks. They’ve been doing it for centuries, and I don’t see society about to collapse any time soon.

I tend to agree with Miss R in that RA can’t really be seen as an accurate cross section of community views.

Unfortunately those of us that are engaged and interested in what is happening around us can’t run things for everyone else without some level of disquiet 😉

I was just looking for some stats on actual sentences handed out and found this gem

link to “sentencing council” in Victoria

Anyone know if something similar exists for the ACT?

While I like the basis for your post, I have 3 difficulties.

The first lies in the idea that the Riotact are a representative voice – I mean no offence by this. Clearly those who post here are engaged and interested in what happens around them which distances them (in my experience) vastly from 95% of those in the region.

Secondly, I have difficulty in imagining a member of the judiciary showing deference to the site to aid in making sentecing decisions. Again, no offence is meant. The sentencing role our Judges play is one of the most serious things Judges do – depriving a person of his or her liberty. While your idea may provide some public support (even if in a private way) in making such a decision, I cannot see how the judiciary would see the decision as anything other than trivialised by the approach suggested.

Finally, there are set criteria which Judges no doubt apply when making sentencing decisions. The public is not trained in the application of those crtieria. Public opinion, especially in certain cases, is not a result of the application of those criteria and is often not made in the context of a full knowledge of the facts.


Two things:

Assuming jail is a place to rehabilitate as well as punish, i would like to see judges to consider previous offenses alot more when sentencing.

The more you offend, the longer you get.

Secondly, the finality of death should cause judges to be very severe to those who take lives.

They say that society is judged by how well they treat the lowest/poorest, but it should also be true that we are judged by how much value we put on a life taken. ACT could do better on both benchmarks.

Some sentencing consistency between jurisdictions would be a good start.

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