Circle sentencing in New South Wales : a review and evaluation


Circle sentencing for Aboriginal offenders was introduced in New South Wales on a trial basis at Nowra in February 2002. This article summarises the findings of a review and evaluation of the first 12 months of the trial’s operation. The evaluation reveals that circle sentencing at Nowra has succeeded on a number of levels. It has led to improvements in the level of support for Aboriginal offenders and for victims, has better enabled offenders to accept responsibility for their behaviour, has promoted healing and reconciliation, and has also promoted the empowerment of Aboriginal persons in the community through the involvement of Aboriginal Elders in the sentencing process. There are also early indications that it has helped to break the cycle of recidivism. A survey of the key participants (offenders, victims, lawyers, community representatives and support persons) reveals a high level of satisfaction with circle sentencing. Having succeeded in Nowra, it seems appropriate that circle sentencing should now be expanded to other regions of the state where there are viable Aboriginal communities and offenders with ties to those communities.

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© Judicial Commission of New South Wales and Aboriginal Justice Advisory Council 2003 This publication is copyright. Other than for the purposes of, and subject to the conditions prescribed under, the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), no part of it may in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, microcopying, photocopying, recording or otherwise) be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted without prior permission. Enquiries should be addressed to the publisher. The views expressed in this monograph are the views of the individual authors and do not represent any official views of the Judicial Commission of New South Wales, nor are they necessarily shared by the members of the staff of the Commission. Whilst all reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, no liability is assumed for any errors or omissions.