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Courts not soft on crime: oration

Courts not soft on crime: oration

By Carolyn Ford

Courts Sentencing 


Tasmanian Governor and law professor Kate Warner spoke to this question in the Victoria Law Foundation (VLF) 2018 Law Oration she delivered on August 21 at the Supreme Court. No is the short answer, or no more than jurors are when they have the same information about an offender that a judge has. Indeed, in 62% of cases, judges are less lenient than jurors except in one category – sexual abuse of children under 12. In those cases, 63% of jurors gave more severe sentences. At the same time, however, 70% of jurors said sentencing levels “in general” were too lenient for sex and violent offences, highlighting that “top-of-the-head views or mass public opinion about lenience of sentences cannot be taken at face value”. There was a stark contrast between jurors’ views in a particular case and their views about sentencing in general – the latter tapping into surface attitudes reflecting broad anxieties and fears about society’s dangers and changes.

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