Sentencing Indigenous offenders in Canada, Australia and New Zealand


In common law countries that have been colonized, the colonized peoples are overrepresented in criminal justice statistics and in rates of incarceration. Sentencing laws and court processes have, for some time, undergone changes to reduce or address the continuing rise of indigenous over-incarceration. This essay focuses on three colonized common law countries: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, in examining what legal strategies have been used to transform judicial reasoning and practice to take into account the particular experiences and circumstances of indigenous offenders. Whether these changes have improved the situation in practice is explored in this essay. The essay concludes by examining what role and responsibilities judicial officers should have in administering justice for peoples who have been, and continue to be, dispossessed of their culture, laws, and language by the process of colonization, and suggests directions for future research.

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