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Northern Territory Indigenous community sentencing mechanisms: An order for substantive equality.

Anthony, Thalia
June 4, 2015

Source: (2014) Australian Indigenous Law Review. 17(2):79-99.

This article contends that two long-standing community
sentencing mechanisms in Northern Territory Aboriginal
communities give rise to substantive equality through
providing a more appropriate setting to deliberate on the
sentences of Indigenous offenders. These mechanisms are
the Northern Territory Indigenous Community Courts
(‘Community Courts’), which reside during formal court
sittings, and Law and Justice Groups, which convene prior to
Magistrates’ Court sittings to prepare advice on sentencing
options and written references.2 These mechanisms are able
to shed light on the distinct subjective circumstances of
Indigenous defendants and the seriousness of the offence for
the community. Their advice to the court on the sentencing
disposition can be more effective in deterring the offender
and the Aboriginal community from committing similar
offences, especially where Indigenous law and culture play
a strong role in community governance. Through formal
sentencing processes, the Anglo-Australian courts are not
otherwise privy to community knowledge relevant to
Indigenous defendants. (excerpt)


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