Evaluating the performance of Indigenous sentencing courts


The effectiveness of Indigenous criminal courts is regularly debated in the public sphere with the many claiming these courts to promote ‘soft Indigenous justice’. There are many differences in the procedures and operations of Indigenous courts compared to the mainstream system, for example there are no lawyers in Indigenous courts forcing the offender to speak for themselves. The characteristics of Indigenous courts seek to address the mistrust Indigenous people have in the mainstream system and to appeal to Indigenous cultural values in order to reduce recidivism rates. This paper seeks to compare the roles and functions of mainstream courts versus the Indigenous before going on to examine how Indigenous courts may be effectively evaluated. A range of evaluation methods are suggested and suggestions are made for way to provide more culturally appropriate forms of sentencing.

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