|Author||Cunneen, Chris; Allison, Fiona ; Loban, Heron; Luke, Garth; Munro, Kate|
|Source/Publisher||Department of Justice and Attorney-General|
|Subjects||Courts and sentencing, Criminal justice system, Evaluation|
This report presents key findings and recommendations developed as part of an independent evaluation of Queensland’s Remote Justices of the Peace (Magistrates Court) Program (JP Court program), conducted by researchers at the Cairns Institute, James Cook University for the Department of Justice and Attorney General (Qld) (DJAG). The DJAG Courts Innovation Programs Directorate presently administers the JP Court program along with other justice initiatives, including the Murri Court, Drug Court and Queensland Indigenous Alcohol Diversion Program. The legislative and policy framework underpinning the JP Court program provides for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander JPs to constitute a Magistrates Court, in the absence of a Magistrate, to hear and determine charges for specified minor offences where a defendant pleads guilty, including certain indictable matters that can be dealt with summarily. In addition the JP Court so convened is able to deal with bail applications and applications for domestic violence orders (where there is consent); to conduct committal hearings – although the latter power is rarely used; and to grant adjournments and bail. At the time the research was conducted JP Courts were operating on eight or nine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Queensland and have been in place on various communities since 1998. The courts are designed to address alienation commonly experienced by Indigenous people within the criminal justice system and to foster the development of positive Indigenous role models within relevant communities, amongst a range of other objectives. The material presented in this report is intended to inform the future development and operation of the JP Court program. The research has provided an opportunity for assessment of the structure, processes and effectiveness of the JP Courts and the frameworks that support it through a review of relevant policy and legislation. This has been achieved by way of analysis of both quantitative data and direct consultation with program stakeholders, including the JPs participating in the program.
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