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The Criminal Legal System

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Gnostic, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. Gnostic Mark Ella (57)

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    Sorry Braveheart, it just isn't true in my experience. Give me references to back this up.

    The introduction of "standard non-parole periods" did not have the effect you propose, this was an effort to remove the subjectivity in sentencing and achieve more consistency.

    http://www.judcom.nsw.gov.au/public...andard_non-parole_period_offences.html#p7-910
  2. Gnostic Mark Ella (57)

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    I should also have added another point to the Solutions:-

    5) Concurrent sentencing should be prohibited where it involves multiple instances of offending. Each offence should be dealt with and sentenced independently. To continue with the death of Thomas Kelly, Loveridge assaulted numerous others in similar fashion that night. Each of these assaults has been sentenced with those sentences being served at least partially concurrently. Again such procedures devalue and disenfranchise the victims of the criminals actions. You end up with a criminal serving a sentence in aggregate that only reaches the median sentence for the most serious matter. So in this instance an 18year old dies and others are assaulted and the total sentence is 33.33% of the maximum available for Manslaughter.
  3. Braveheart81 Rocky Elsom (76)

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    I think this is true in almost every aspect of life. If you pay for the services of someone who is better at their job you will almost always end up with a more favourable outcome.

    The criminal justice system is no different. Crimes and court cases are not black and white. If you hire someone that is better at arguing your side of events, you are more likely to end up with a better outcome. Likewise, the best prosecutors (often Mark Tedeschi QC) is given the highest profile murder cases to prosecute because he is most likely to end up with the best result for the Crown.

    I think the Police do this purposefully so they look like the good guys sticking up for the victims even though they know that there is little chance of the charge proceeding.

    This happens regularly and I think helps undermine the DPP who then look like they are going soft by charging lesser crimes.

    Section 3A sets out the following seven purposes “for which a court may impose a sentence on an offender”:
    (a)
    to ensure that the offender is adequately punished for the offence,
    (b)
    to prevent crime by deterring the offender and other persons from committing similar offences,
    (c)
    to protect the community from the offender,
    (d)
    to promote the rehabilitation of the offender,
    (e)
    to make the offender accountable for his or her actions,
    (f)
    to denounce the conduct of the offender,
    (g)
    to recognise the harm done to the victim of the crime and to the community.
  4. Braveheart81 Rocky Elsom (76)

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    Here are a couple:

    http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current series/facts/1-20/2006/6 corrections.html

    That link shows that there has been an increase in perpetrators who receive a custodial sentence for violent crimes (whilst there has been a decrease for property crimes) since the 1990s.

    http://www.lawsociety.com.au/cs/groups/public/documents/internetpolicysubmissions/577807.pdf

    This is mostly a discussion of other studies but includes several references to other studies by the Judicial Commission of NSW and the Australian Productivity Commission have both found that the average length of sentences has increased.

    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/B1BDF0A59F16AB85CA25795F000DB327?opendocument

    Excluding prisoners with indeterminate and periodic detention sentences, the median aggregate sentence length for sentenced prisoners was 3 years and 3 months (39 months) in 2011, an increase from 3 years (36 months) in 2010.


    There are plenty of other sources and studies out there if you want to have a look.
  5. Braveheart81 Rocky Elsom (76)

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    In the 1970s the average length of time a prisoner served who had been sentenced to a life sentence in NSW was 16 years.

    Now there is a minimum non parole period of 20 years (or 25 years for the murder of a child) and some sentences are now for life with no possibility of parole.

    This is from NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).
  6. boyo Mark Ella (57)

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    IMO serving a sentence concurrently for several crimes cheapens those crimes.
  7. Braveheart81 Rocky Elsom (76)

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    In this situation it is quite complex.

    Loveridge has been sentenced in total to 7 years 2 months in prison with a minimum non parole period of 5 years 2 months.

    Of the four assaults he was found guilty of, he was sentenced to a total of 14 months in prison. The total of the four sentences separately was 18 months (4+4+4+6 months). I don't know how it works in terms of which bits were concurrent and which weren't. It would seem that he's forced to serve about 80% of the total of those cumulative sentences.

    The only one of the sentences with a minimum non parole period is the manslaughter. The sentence with a minimum of four years and a maximum of six years begins when the 14 months of sentences for the other offences finishes (which is in a few days).

    As a side note, I always find it a bit ridiculous that the media talks about "and with time already served he'll be due for release blah blah blah".

    It's as if the time already spent in prison prior to conviction isn't actually real prison time.
  8. Pusser Larry Dwyer (12)

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    We could do away with the judiciary and let the Daily Telegraph and Courier Mail determine the sentences. Then we could sentence people who steal from old ladies 25 years in prison and do something really serious for serious crimes.

    Seriously populism tends to be very Old Testament and focused on revenge. It is obvious from the US experience, that deterrence doesn't work and sentences should take into account the actual evidence and the potential for rehab. I think a teenager sent to an adult jail for 10 years is going to end up a hardened criminal rather than a citizen who has learned his lesson.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
    Braveheart81 likes this.
  9. fatprop David Wilson (68)

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    Mate, it has always been the same, someone who can afford the best team available is more likely to get off.

    Running a case with a top legal firm, a junior and a SC team on your side makes a massive difference than being represented low cost suburban solicitor.



  10. Braveheart81 Rocky Elsom (76)

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    What's more, this basic premise applies in just about every aspect of life.

    You get what you pay for in terms of quality of service or product.
    fatprop likes this.
  11. Braveheart81 Rocky Elsom (76)

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    Part of the problem we have with the criminal justice system is that populist sentiment intervenes with the chance the criminal justice system has of properly rehabilitating people.

    There is a strong correlation between disadvantage and crime. In fact, crime rates in NSW have gone down steadily in line with increases in the standard of living. For most people, desperation is what drives people to crime and if people are better off they are less likely to resort to crime.

    The tabloid papers are always very quick to incite outrage in the community every time they feel like prisoners are getting treated well. There seems to be this public sentiment that they want prisoners to be treated harshly but then not reoffend. The evidence is crystal clear however that if you treat prisoners like animals they end up acting like animals and any chance of rehabilitation is lost. Regular visits, education, day release prior to release and anything else that keeps a prisoner in contact with society is beneficial for helping rehabilitate someone and reduce recidivism rates.

    Of course there are always going to be prisoners with little chance of being rehabilitated. Part of the system always has to be identifying these people who are going to be a continual danger to the community and work to protect the community from them. This is unfortunately often difficult until they have done something truly heinous.

    When you look at young serial offenders and how much money is spent on them through the court system and juvenile detention centres etc. you could truly spend a large amount of money rehabilitating someone properly so they don't end up living a life of crime and save taxpayers a huge amount of money in the long run.

    Our current justice system is broken in the fact that it does very little to rehabilitate criminals. The longer someone spends in jail, the more likely they are to become a career criminal. We are spending ever increasing amounts of money locking people up and it does very little to reduce crime rates.

    Unfortunately public sentiment makes it nigh on impossible to do something like Norway does to rehabilitate prisoners because there is mass outrage everytime it is seen that prisoners are being treated decently.
  12. terry j Ron Walden (29)

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    What's more, this basic premise applies in just about every aspect of life.

    You get what you pay for in terms of quality of service or product.

    Braveheart, is this not a very big part of the problem?
    There is a strong correlation between disadvantage and crime.

    Disadvantage often has a monetary aspect to it, so it becomes a self fulfilling cycle.

    Can I say that this thread has been conducted admirably? Am very much enjoying the well thought out contributions on what (at least in the tabloids) a very contentious area.

    Regarding rehabilitation etc, what are the figures on the contribution of drugs to the prison population? Presumably aus would vary greatly from the US here. Perhaps we are more enlightened about drug rehab than the states (where I suspect mandatory drug sentencing is in play?)

    Simplistic solutions that come from media beatups would produce more problems than they solve I suspect.
  13. Braveheart81 Rocky Elsom (76)

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    Regarding your first question, I don't know that this is something that can easily be solved. You can't make the best QCs/SCs and solicitors represent people for free. Sometimes they will take up a cause, but mostly this will not be the case.

    Presumably the only way to solve it would be for the taxpayer to fund top class legal defences on a means tested basis. This will never fly.

    I don't think Australia is much more enlightened about dealing with drugs than the US. Whilst we have less prisoners due to drug possession there are vast amounts of crime relate to drugs in some way.

    The only approach that will actually reduce crime and the cost to society of drugs is to decriminalize use and treat it as a medical issue, not a justice issue. Legalising marijuana would go a long way to helping shift Police resources towards the drugs that have a far greater toll on society such as crystal meth.
  14. terry j Ron Walden (29)

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    Thanks BH.is my assumption that either you or gnostic (or both) are involved in the law correct??

    It really is a sticky area. Take the first point, not only do the best not give free legal representation to the poorest (already identified as more likely to be involved in the law) the people that do are very likely to be so severely overworked that they cannot deliver whatever THEIR best is.

    Drugs and their role in crime is a prickly area too. Not so much that they are involved, there would be little doubt about that, but I'd say the argument (or one of them) against marijuana is that it is a pathway drug to the more dangerous drugs such as meth. If it were decriminalised would the user in danger of graduation to harder drugs go 'phew, now I can get off dope'? Nah, it would be a free pass (not arguing for or against here)

    very interesting thread
  15. Braveheart81 Rocky Elsom (76)

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    I'm not involved in the law at all. I just have a strong personal interest in the criminal justice system.

    I think the whole marijuana as a gateway drug thing is kind of incorrect. Sure, most people try marijuana before they try more illicit drugs however I don't think it is the cause of people wanting to try harder drugs. You could say the same regarding alcohol or tobacco. Most people would try these before they try marijuana.

    I don't think decriminalising or legalising drugs would really lead to much greater usage or people moving on to harder drugs. I think drugs are generally pretty readily available for whoever wants them. Decriminalising them would just lead to a reduction in some of the crime surrounding them.
  16. BPC Phil Hardcastle (33)

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    While you raise some interesting points Gnostic, the biggest problem you are dealing with is that n=1.
  17. BPC Phil Hardcastle (33)

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    Not always, but largely speaking this true for more serious offences. Access to justice is a big problem in both civil and criminal law.
  18. fatprop David Wilson (68)

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    it didn't in Portugal, I say legalise & tax the lot of them, get more tax, lower policing, jail costs and insurance bills in one easy step
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  19. Braveheart81 Rocky Elsom (76)

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    Absolutely.

    There is clear evidence that harm minimisation tactics reduce health issues, crime and all the other associated problems relating to drugs.

    The war on drugs has continued to be nothing but a failure and a huge cost to society.
  20. Lindommer Andrew Slack (58)

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    Loveridge assaulted five people on the night in question, one of whom died. He was on probation for an earlier incident when he gate-crashed a party and punched someone there as well as assaulting a police officer on another occasion and a few other anti-social offences. This bloke's used up his mercy cards from the previous court appearances and can consider himself bloody lucky to cop a sentence of seven years.

    The appeal over the leniency of his sentence will make for very interesting reading.
    Gnostic likes this.

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