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HomeVolume 28Communities get role in court sentencing

Communities get role in court sentencing

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Parliament has last night passed amendments to the Sentencing Act 1995 and the Youth Justice Act 2005 to establish a legislative framework for a community courts sentencing procedure.

The Sentencing Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 paves the way for Community Courts across the NT and delivers on a key commitment under the Aboriginal Justice Agreement, which aims to:

  • Reduce offending and imprisonment of Aboriginal Territorians;
  • Engage and support Aboriginal leadership; and
  • Improve justice responses and services for Aboriginal Territorians.

Community Courts will help address and reduce the high rates of imprisonment and recidivism in the Territory by engaging and supporting Aboriginal community leadership and cultural authority, through the active participation of Law and Justice Groups in the criminal justice sentencing process.

Budget 2023 provides for the operation of Community Courts and Law and Justice Groups, with six sites to be supported over the next two years.

Community Courts support local community involvement and Aboriginal leadership by holding offenders accountable for their behaviour and helping them to understand the impacts of their behaviour.

They are part of our plan to improve justice outcomes and services for Aboriginal Territorians and support our Local Decision Making strategy.

The legislative changes we have made further our Government’s commitment to delivering better justice outcomes for Aboriginal Territorians, and creating safer, stronger communities.

Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Chansey Paech.

PHOTO at top: Mr Paech in October 2019 in Alice Springs.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Law and Justice Groups will support local community involvement and Aboriginal leadership by holding offenders accountable for their behaviour and helping them to understand the impacts of their behaviour.
    Except:
    Where these roles go against their overwhelming priority to maintain extended family / kinship bonds which are pervasive and often include most residents of the community.
    Where the offence such as property damage is considered little more than “silly”.
    Where the offence isn’t a crime at all in their society eg driving an unregistered vehicle to the funeral of a close relative without a driver’s licence or giving money to a needy relative instead of paying a fine etc.
    Many Aboriginal people slip effortlessly between community and prison which is akin to a second home for them so the idea that Law and Justice Groups made up of community members can “rehabilitate” or lower recidivism is fanciful.

  2. Nothing new under the sun. Half a century ago Scrubby Hall ran de-facto community courts.
    No legislation, no nothing, just common sense and respect for elders and their opinions.
    As [Magistrate] Scrubby saw it, ineffective and unfair rules and procedures are there to be ignored, which he did to great effect.
    One result of this was that local elders were respected and had a much greater influence on the behaviour of youths.
    It is good to see that something that worked in the past is brought back.
    Chansey, any chance you can name the six “sites”? That way those blessed and those that missed out know, although I guess they’d find out sooner or later.

  3. Frank you are right:”Nothing new under the sun. Half a century ago Scrubby Hall ran de-facto community courts.
    No legislation, no nothing, just common sense and respect for elders and their opinions.”
    Alas, like would said Voltaire: “Politics is the mean for men without principles to lead men without memory.”

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