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Suspended Sentences in Tasmania: Key Research Findings

NCJ Number
Lorana Bartels
Date Published
July 2009
6 pages
This paper provides an overview of the use of suspended sentences in the Supreme Court of Tasmania, and an analysis of reconviction and breach rates of those whose sentences are suspended.
This paper provides a quantitative overview of the use of suspended sentences in Tasmania, based upon key findings of recent research. Findings indicate that offenders serving suspended sentences had the lowest reconviction rates of the four sentencing options studied, followed by partly suspended sentences. This finding is true irrespective of prior criminal history. Young offenders had particularly low reconviction rates. An additional finding was that only 5 to 6 percent of offenders in breach of a suspended sentence were returned to court for breach action. This failure to deal appropriately with breached sentences reduces the effectiveness of individual sentences and may undermine confidence in the criminal justice system as a whole. The argument for suspended sentences is that they are an effective form of deterrence as well as a tool for reducing the size of the prison population. Those opposing use of this sentencing tool speak to the failure to impose real punishment, and the unfair application of suspended sentences, particularly in favoring middle-class offenders. Tables and references