20/6/16
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Sydney Institute of Criminology
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Sentencing Guidance Is Best Provided by the Courts: New Report
Victoria's Sentencing Advisory Council released a comprehensive report last week on sentencing guidance in Victoria, responding to terms of reference received from the Attorney-General on 24 November 2015.

The terms of reference asked the Council for advice on the most effective legislative mechanism to provide sentencing guidance to courts in a way that:
  • promotes consistency of approach in sentencing offenders and
  • promotes public confidence in the criminal justice system.
The report, Sentencing Guidance in Victoria, makes 18 recommendations intended to achieve these aims.

A key recommendation is the repeal of the baseline sentencing regime, based on the Council’s view that baseline sentencing is inoperably flawed.

The report also presents recommendations for a suite of reforms to enhance the guideline judgment scheme. These recommendations are predicated on the Council’s view that sentencing guidance is best provided by the courts, and that guideline judgments are the most influential and persuasive form of guidance. The enhanced scheme is intended to facilitate greater use of guideline judgments, which can provide comprehensive guidance on the sentencing of all offences and offence categories, including offences sentenced in the higher courts or the Magistrates’ Court.

The report also contains recommendations in response to a specific request in the terms of reference to provide advice on a new sentencing scheme. Although a new scheme is not the Council’s preferred model of guidance, the report makes recommendations on the form and content of a standard sentence scheme, which has the following key features:
  • Parliament fixes a ‘standard’ sentence that represents the sentence for a charge of an offence in the middle of the range of seriousness.
  • This standard sentence would operate as a ‘guidepost’ to offence seriousness (in addition to the maximum penalty), and a court would be required to consider this new guidepost when sentencing.
  • If adopted, a standard sentence scheme should only apply to offences for which there is evidence of significant problems that can be addressed by this form of sentencing guidance, and the scheme should be combined with an enhanced guideline      judgment scheme.

The report also documents the Council’s evidence-based approach to forming its views in response to the terms of reference. It contains detailed analysis of offences on the available evidence and identifies 12 offences with evidence of sentencing problems for which sentencing guidance is required. This evidence includes relevant qualitative research, quantitative analysis, and the commentary and feedback the Council has received in submissions and during consultations.

The report also calls for more research on informed public opinion on sentencing in Victoria, online publication of sentencing remarks, and a review of sentencing schemes in the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic), among other recommendations.

The report can be read in full here.
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Recent Publications
Ombudsman report on the NSW consorting law

In 2012, the NSW consorting law was modernised. It is now an offence for a person to continue to communicate or associate with at least two ‘convicted offenders’ following receipt of a police warning in relation to each offender. ‘Convicted offender’ is defined broadly and may include a person convicted of a relatively minor offence such as shoplifting. The offence has a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment and/or a $16,500 fine.

The Acting Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan, has completed his report on the NSW consorting law during its first three years of operation. The report recommends the adoption of a statutory and policy framework to ensure police apply the consorting law in a way that is focused on serious crime, closely linked to crime prevention, and is not used in relation to minor offending.

The Ombudsman’s report outlines use of the consorting law in relation to members of criminal gangs, but also in relation to people experiencing homelessness, children and young people, and people with no criminal record. In some areas the proportion of use in relation to Aboriginal people was high. 

The report makes 20 recommendations intended to increase the fairness of the operation of the consorting law, and reduce the risk of use that may undermine public confidence in the NSW Police Force.

The report can be read in full here.

Global Perspectives on Desistance
Edited by Joanna Shapland, Stephen Farrall, Anthony Bottoms

In recent years attention has switched from how adolescents are attracted into crime, to how adults reduce their offending and then stop – the process of desistance. There are now around a dozen major longitudinal and in-depth studies around the world which have followed or are following offenders over their life course, charting their offending history and their social and economic circumstances.

The book is the first to offer a global perspective on desistance and brings together international leading experts in the field from countries including the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Spain, the USA, and Australia to set out what we know about desistance, and to advance our theoretical understanding. Drawing on leading studies, this book sets the academic agenda for future work on desistance and examines the implications and potential positive effects of this research on desistance processes among current offenders.

Comprehensive and forward-thinking, this book is ideal for students studying criminology, probation and social work, social policy, sociology, and psychology. It is also essential reading for academic criminologists, sociologists, and policy makers and practitioners working in corrections and reform.

To learn more and to purchase the book, please follow the link.

Judicial Guidance Required for Sentencing Sexual Penetration with a Child under 12
Victoria's Sentencing Advisory Council has released a report revealing inconsistent approaches to sentencing for the offence of sexual penetration with a child under 12 and inadequate current sentencing practices for this offence. The Council suggests that sentencing guidance is required to address both these issues.

The Council used both quantitative and qualitative research techniques to analyse sentencing data and sentencing remarks for all cases of sexual penetration with a child under 12 over the five-year period to 30 June 2014. Among the Council’s key findings is that sentences appear to be influenced by problematic assessments of sexual violence and that the inherent violence involved in the sexual penetration of a child is not sufficiently recognised. Moreover, sentencers’ adherence to current sentencing practices has had the effect of inhibiting increases in sentences, regardless of countervailing sentencing considerations and the growing recognition of the grave harm caused by this type of offending. Attempts by government to increase sentences through reforms such as the serious sexual offender scheme appear to have had minimal influence on sentencing practices for this offence.

The Council’s report concludes that the current approach to sentencing for the offence of sexual penetration with a child under 12 is based on outdated concepts of harm that persist in the criminal justice system. The report also concludes that current sentencing practices reinforce past norms and that trial judges feel constrained when imposing sentences for the offence of sexual penetration with a child under 12, despite changing community attitudes.

A full copy of the report can be found here.
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Upcoming Events
George Kelling Public Lecture: 'To Broken Windows and Beyond: the Big Ideas that Reframed American Policing'
Date: 23rd August 2016
Location: Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD

George L. Kelling is Emeritus Professor at Rutgers and Northeastern Universities, formerly a Fellow at Harvard University, and a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.  In 1972, he began work on several large-scale experiments in policing:  the Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment and the Newark Foot Patrol Experiment. His most familiar publication is in the Atlantic, “Broken Windows,” with James Q. Wilson.  He also published Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities, with his wife, Catherine M. Coles. He has regularly consulted with police—most recently with the Milwaukee, Detroit, and New York City Police Departments.

This is a free public lecture and all are invited to attend. Afternoon tea will be served on arrival, with lecture to follow from 5.30 - 6.30 pm.

RSVP's essential by 16th August 2016. To register, please follow the link.
Southern Criminology Seminar
Date: 22nd of July
Location: Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane

The Crime and Justice Research Centre will be hosting an upcoming seminar on ‘Southern Criminology’, with speakers Professor Kerry Carrington, Professor Russell Hogg, Dr Helen Berents and Professor John Scott.

Almost 85% of the world’s population live in what might be termed the ‘global south’, comprising three continents. A large proportion of the world’s police and around half of the world’s 10.2 million prisoners are detained in the continents of the global south, across Asia, Africa, Oceania and South America. Yet criminology has concentrated mainly on problems of crime and justice in the Global North. Where criminology has taken root in the global South it has tended to borrow and adapt assumptions from northern criminology. As a result, criminologies of the south have, until recently, accepted their subordinate role in the global organisation of knowledge. This has stunted the intellectual development and vitality of criminology, both in the South, across Asia and globally.

This seminar outlines how southern criminology aims to transform criminological agendas to make them more befitting, inclusive of and responsive to the global problems of justice and security in the 21st century.  Southern criminology seeks to internationalise and democratise criminological practice and knowledge, to liberate it from its Anglophone northern bias, to renovate its methodological approaches and to inject innovative perspectives into the study of crime and global justice from the periphery. Its purpose is not to denounce but to re-orient, not to oppose but to modify, not to displace but to augment. It is primarily concerned with the careful analysis of networks and interactions linking South and North but which have been obscured by the metropolitan hegemony over criminological thought. By undertaking a series of projects of retrieval, southern criminology seeks to globalise and democratise criminological practice and knowledge, to renovate its methodological approaches and to inject innovative perspectives into the study of crime and global justice.

To learn more and to register, please follow the link.
Only two days left of Early Bird registrations for 'From Evidence to Practice: The 2nd Australasian Youth Justice Conference'
Date: 13th-15th September
Location: Brisbane

The Australasian  Juvenile Justice Administrators (AJJA) and the Griffith Criminology Institute  (GCI) are proud to announce that registration is now open for 'From Evidence to Practice: The 2nd Australasian Youth Justice Conference'. Informed by the Principles of Youth Justice in Australia, the conference will be held in Brisbane from 13-15 September 2016, and will be of great interest to researchers, policy makers and practitioners from government and non-government sectors. Key note speakers include Professor Colleen Hayward from Edith Cowan University, Professor Patrick McGorry from Orygen, Ms Khylee Quince of the University of Auckland, Professor Linda Teplin of Northwestern University, and Professor Rob White from the University of Tasmania.

For more information and to register, please follow the link.
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Job Advertisements
Criminology Tutor - Macquarie University

Macquarie University's Department of Sociology is looking for a new staff member to teach tutorial classes for their course, "Introduction to Crime and Justice". This is a  first year course suitable for someone who has an understanding of criminal justice issues and related background. For more information about the position, please contact Senior Lecturer Dr Peter Rogers at Peter.Rogers@mq.edu.au. You can also send him a CV if you wish to apply for the position. Interested persons are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Editor - Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology
Applications are invited from members of the Society from Australia and New Zealand for the position of Editor of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology to begin 1 October 2016 for a three year term. 

The journal is published four times a year and is dedicated to advancing research and debate on a range of criminological issues. The Editor becomes an ordinary member of the Committee of Management of ANZSOC. As such, any editor/co-editor must be a member of the Society, and be available to sit as a member of the Committee of Management. The Editor cannot hold any other office in the Society simultaneously.

The duties of the Editor include:
  • Responsibility for the compilation of each issue of the Journal and for providing SAGE electronically (on an on-going and timely basis) with all contributions accepted for publication.
  • Development of criteria for review of papers for publication, selecting reviewers, ensuring timely submission of articles for publication in the journal, and maintaining high standards of quality. 
  • Selection and management of a Managing Editor, Associate Editors, a Book Review Editor, an editorial advisory board and an international advisory board.
  • Active participation in the Committee of Management of ANZSOC and regular reporting to the Committee on matters concerning the journal.
  • Responsibility for editing the articles of each issue of the Journal for technical content, form, clarity, and accuracy - other than copy-editing.
Those interested in being considered should provide a formal proposal for consideration by the Selection Committee no later than close of business 31 July 2016.

For more information on the position and how to apply, please follow the link.
Intake and Referral Officer - South West Sydney Legal Centre
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