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Impact of Bugmy and Munda on Sentencing Aboriginal and Other Offenders

NCJ Number
Judicial Officers' Bulletin Volume: 26 Issue: 3 Dated: April 2014 Pages: 17-22
Stephen Rothman AM
Date Published
April 2014
6 pages
This article examines the impact of two rulings by Australia's High Court on sentencing outcomes for Aboriginal and other offenders.
The two cases referenced in this article are "Bugmy v The Queen" and "Munda v Western Australia." Both cases involved the sentencing of Aboriginal offenders in which the courts did not take into full account all factors that could affect an offender's conduct or moral culpability. These factors include not only environmental factors such as the presence of alcohol abuse and violence, but also factors such as discrimination, social exclusion, and disempowerment. The author argues that courts cannot just assume that offenders have suffered from social exclusion and disempowerment and their difficult surroundings, but rather evidence must be submitted at the time of sentencing that supports the assertions. The author notes that while broader factors can be considered by courts, they need to be analyzed on a case by case basis.