Sentencing Recommendations on RIOTACT?

luca 8 January 2007 29

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!

What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
29 Responses to Sentencing Recommendations on RIOTACT?
miz miz 10:16 pm 08 Jan 07

Some sentencing consistency between jurisdictions would be a good start.

futto futto 10:25 pm 08 Jan 07

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.

Miss R Miss R 10:48 pm 08 Jan 07

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.


futto futto 11:04 pm 08 Jan 07

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?

Cameron Cameron 12:07 am 09 Jan 07

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 😉

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 12:43 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.

Hasdrubahl Hasdrubahl 6:35 am 09 Jan 07

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.

Maelinar Maelinar 7:50 am 09 Jan 07

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

Heavs Heavs 8:38 am 09 Jan 07

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.

VYBerlinaV8_now with_added_grunt VYBerlinaV8_now with_added_grunt 9:01 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.

poptop poptop 9:04 am 09 Jan 07

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.

S4anta S4anta 9:11 am 09 Jan 07

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.

toastie toastie 9:25 am 09 Jan 07

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.

che che 9:41 am 09 Jan 07

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

Thumper Thumper 10:00 am 09 Jan 07

Just make me ruler of the world.

You know it makes sense…

snahon snahon 10:00 am 09 Jan 07

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

seepi seepi 10:22 am 09 Jan 07

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.’.

snahon snahon 11:35 am 09 Jan 07

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

S4anta S4anta 11:50 am 09 Jan 07

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

poptop poptop 11:56 am 09 Jan 07

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.

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter


Search across the site