Sydney Institute of Criminology
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Professor John Pratt to visit the Sydney Institute of Criminology to present on penal populism

On the 18th of May 2017, Professor John Pratt of Victoria University Wellington will give a presentation at the Sydney Law School on the topic of penal populism.

Penal populism has become a much discussed characteristic of punishment in  modern society. Most such commentaries, however, take the rather myopic view that this phenomenon represents some localized event within the social body, to be diagnosed, theorized and exorcized there. This article, however, argues that the emergence of penal populism is neither the endpoint of nor the limits to populism and its consequences in modern society. Rather, it marks only the beginnings of its more general resurgence in the early twenty first century. In
these respects, penal populism should be understood as only a convenient incubating phase in which populist forces found vigour and strength before flowing much deeper into mainstream society from that gestation. If it might be thought that penal populism represents an attack on the long established link between reason and modern punishment, this has been only the prelude to the way in which a much more free flowing political populism now threatens to bring an end to Reason itself, the foundation stone of modernity.  This shift from penal to political populism has been precipitated by two interconnected factors: the
impact of the 2008 global fiscal crisis and the mass movement of peoples across the globe.  The seminar concludes with a discussion of how political populism continues to transform punishment in modern society, as well as the broader social consequences and implications of its emergence.

About the Speaker

John Pratt is Professor of Criminology at the Institute of Criminology, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. His main field of research is comparative penology. He has published in eleven languages and has been invited to lecture at universities in South America, North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In 2008 he was awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand James Cook Research Fellowship. In 2009 he was awarded the Sir Leon Radzinowicz Prize by the Editorial Board of the British Journal of Criminology. In 2010 he was invited to take up a one year Fellowship at the Straus Institute for Advanced Studies in Law and Justice, New York University. In 2012 he was elected to a Fellowship of the Royal Society of New Zealand. In 2013 he was awarded the Society’s Mason Durie Medal, given 'to the nation's pre-emiment social scientist.’

Time: 6-7pm (registration and light refreshments from 5.30pm)

Location: Sydney Law School, New Law Building (F10), Eastern Avenue, Camperdown

Cost: Complimentary, however registration is essential.

CPD Points: 1

For more information and to register, please visit the event website.

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Upcoming Events
Law Week Event 2017: Youth Crime, Youth Justice

Date: 5:30pm 16 March 2017
Location: Village Roadshow Theatrette, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne

The Victoria Sentencing Advisory Council has announced its major community education event for the year, which will be held as part of the Victoria Law Foundation’s Law Week 2017.

‘Youth Crime, Youth Justice’ will feature a hypothetical case study of youth offending – the story of ‘Michael’ from age 8 to age 18. Events in Michael’s life will highlight how (and why) the law and the community respond differently to offending by children than to offending by adults.
Host and Council Chair, Professor Arie Freiberg, will tell Michael’s story and put questions to an expert panel:

  • Judge Amanda Chambers, President of the Children’s Court
  • Liana Buchanan, Commissioner for Children and Young People
  • Acting Senior Sergeant Sherril Handley, Police Prosecutor
  • Paul McDonald, CEO, Anglicare.

This free event will be held on Monday 15th May 2017, 5:30 p.m. (for a 6 p.m. start) to 7:30 p.m. at the Village Roadshow Theatrette, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne (enter off La Trobe Street).

The event is general admission, so arrive on time to guarantee a seat.
The venue is wheelchair accessible (Entry 3 in La Trobe Street). If you have any further questions, you can contact the Council by phone on 1300 363 196 or via email at contact@sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au.

Sentencing Seminar Series 2017—Shaping the sentencing agenda: The role of sentencing councils in policy debate and development

Date: Wednesday 17 May 2017, registration from 12 pm, seminar 1 pm to 2.30 pm
Location: Banco Court—QEII Courts of Law Courts, 415 George Street, Brisbane Qld 4000 or online via live web stream

Are sentencing advisory councils bureaucrats or do they have real influence?

The reality of modern politics is that sentencing policy is not always based on evidence: public opinion often demands change in sentencing policies that may be expensive, ineffective or counter-productive. Sentencing is an emotive issue.

Sentencing advisory councils were established to provide governments with independent policy advice, publish information about sentencing practices, assist with sentencing guidelines and mediate between the political process, the judiciary and the public.

In our second Sentencing Seminar Series event, Emeritus Professor Arie Freiberg will explore the role and influence of Australian sentencing advisory councils in bridging the gap between the community, the courts and governments.

Professor Freiberg — the chair of the Victorian and Tasmanian Sentencing Advisory Councils — will discuss the successes and failures of sentencing councils in their attempt to inform, engage and advise on sentencing matters.

Cost: Free

For more information and to register, please visit the event website.

Lawyers who attend this or other events in the Sentencing Seminar Series, for immediate or long-term educational purposes, are able to claim one Continuing Professional Development (CPD) unit for each hour of attendance.

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Recent Publications
NSW Custody Statistics: Quarterly update March 2017


The NSW prison population reached 12,955 in March this year, not counting prisoners held in police cells. This brings the total increase in the NSW adult prison population over the last two years to 13 per cent.

The growth in the State's prison population is slowing (see graph). The growth rate in the 12 months to March 2016 was 8.5 per cent. The growth rate in the 12 months to March 2017 was 3.6 per cent. Even so, the Bureau forecasts the NSW prison population will reach 13,500 by March next year.

Most (59%) of the increase in inmate numbers over the last 12 months has come from remand prisoners (i.e. prisoners refused bail), the number of whom rose by 6.3 per cent over the last 12 months. The number of sentenced prisoners, by contrast, rose by 2.2 per cent over the last 12 months.

The Indigenous prisoner population has grown over the last 12 months at a fairly similar rate to the overall prison population. All of the growth in the Indigenous prison population, however, has come from remand prisoners.

The number of Indigenous defendants on remand grew by 11.4 per cent over the last 12 months. The number of sentenced Indigenous prisoners actually fell by 0.10 per cent over the same time period.

In contrast to the adult prisoner population, the number of juveniles in custody is continuing its downward trend. As at March 2017, there were 281 juveniles in custody, down 9.4 per cent over the last 12 months.

The number of juveniles in custody has now fallen from a peak of 405 detainees in June 2011, by 31 per cent to 281 in March 2017.

Commenting on the findings, the director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) said the slowing growth in adult prisoner numbers was an encouraging sign given the rapid build-up in prisoner numbers over the last few years.

The full report can be found here.

Criminal justice system—reliability and integration of data

By the Queensland Audit Office

In this audit we examined how well Queensland’s criminal justice entities capture, report and use data, ensuring its reliability and integration across the justice system.

‘Criminal justice system entities’ (for the purpose of this report) include the Queensland Police Service and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, through its Queensland Courts Service, Queensland Corrective Services, and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The state’s criminal justice system prevents, detects, and investigates crime. It delivers judicial processes, manages prisoners and offenders, and provides rehabilitation services.

We assessed the timeliness, accuracy, and completeness of crime data. Also how the criminal justice entities report and exchange this data.

This is the second of two reports from this audit. The first, Criminal justice system – prison sentences (Report 4: 2016-17), assessed how effectively criminal justice entities capture and use data for calculating and administering prison sentences.

The report is available online here.

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Job Advertisements
Postdoctoral Fellow - UNSW

School of Psychiatry / Research Unit for Schizophrenia Epidemiology (RUSE)

About the role

  • $89,051-$95,248 plus 9.5% Superannuation and annual leave loading
  • Fixed Term contract for 12 months with prospects of renewal
  • Full-time (35 hours per week)

The School of Psychiatry is seeking to appoint an enthusiastic Postdoctoral Fellow to work on an ARC-funded project embedded within the NSW Child Development Study (NSW-CDS), a longitudinal cohort record-linkage based study focused on identifying vulnerability and protective factors in young people important for later mental health and wellbeing.  The Postdoctoral Fellow will focus specifically on facilitating a new data linkage and subsequent analysis of linked data to be obtained from the NSW Police and Juvenile Justice.  The aim of the project is to enable examination of the early contact young people make with the criminal justice system. This position will be based in the UNSW Research Unit for Schizophrenia Epidemiology at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst.

About the successful applicant

To be successful in this role you will:

  • A PhD or equivalent degree in: psychology, psychiatry, criminology, epidemiology, public health or other relevant discipline
  • Demonstrated project management experience in the context of population-based record-linkage or other longitudinal cohort studies;
  • Demonstrated experience and ability in developing and maintaining research partner relationships with government and/or non-government stakeholders;
  • Advanced computing skills, and demonstrated proficiency in data analysis using SAS (or equivalent statistical program)
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills within an academic context

You should systematically address the selection criteria listed within the position description in your application. Please apply online - applications will not be accepted if sent to the contact listed.

Interviews for this position are planned to occur on 31 May 2017 in Darlinghurst.


Associate Professor Kimberlie Dean

E: k.dean@unsw.edu.au

For more information and to apply, please follow the link.

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Student Opportunities
2x Fully Funded PhD positions at Monash University, Population, Migration and Social Inclusion Focus Program
The Population, Migration and Social Inclusion Focus Program is an exciting new research-based initiative located in the School of Social Sciences in the Faculty of Arts, promoting and facilitating cross-faculty partnerships within the University. The Focus Program is forging cutting edge research on the short and long term benefits and challenges of increased immigration for social inclusion in regional and urban areas. Three complementary themes bringing together advanced methods and theoretical insights from sociology, criminology and urban studies are at the core of this endeavour: 
  • The spatial concentration of immigrant groups and consequences for the economic and social life of urban and regional communities
  • Temporal changes in social relationships, attitudes and social actions in communities experiencing increases in diversity and/or immigrant concentration; and
  • Negotiating settlement in Australia for new arrived immigrants.
PhD projects will take a multi-disciplinary approach and will involve working with government, non-government and industry partners. The successful applicants will work with Rebecca Wickes and other members of the focus group program and will be expected to advance one of the aforementioned key thematic areas. This PhD project is funded with a full, independent scholarship and PhD students will play in important role in advancing migration research at Monash University.

Applications close on the 15th of May 2017. Further information can be found here.
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