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Sentencing Aboriginal Offenders: Law, Policy and Practice in Three Countries

NCJ Number
Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice Volume: 56 Issue: 4 Dated: July 2014 Pages: 447-494
Samantha Jeffries; Phillip Stenning
Date Published
July 2014
48 pages
This article reviews, compares, and contrasts the approaches legislators, courts, and criminal justice policymakers have taken to address the needs of convicted Aboriginal offenders in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, where they are disproportionately given severe sentences, particularly imprisonment.
This article first reviews current data on the sentencing of Aboriginal offenders in each of the three countries. There are similarities among the approaches taken in the three countries to address the disproportionate incarceration of Aboriginal offenders. Most noteworthy are the various experiments with Aboriginal courts and the involvement of Aboriginal elders and other community members in sentencing Aboriginal offenders. The perspective that has emerged on this issue is that sentencing disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal offenders for similar crimes must be addresses by ensuring fairness in sentencing. A larger issue, however, is the prevalence of socioeconomic conditions in Aboriginal communities that have been found to breed criminal behavior. The indication is that Aboriginal people are more likely than non-Aboriginese to live in communities characterized by criminogenic socioeconomic conditions. 18 notes and 91 references