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Sword or Feather? The use and utility of suspended sentences in Tasmania

Bartels, LM 2008 , 'Sword or Feather? The use and utility of suspended sentences in Tasmania', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis explores the use and utility of suspended sentences in Tasmania.
Suspended sentences are currently available as a sentencing disposition in all
Australian jurisdictions, but there is conflict between public and legal perceptions
about the severity of the sanction, which may contribute to a lack of public
confidence in the criminal justice system as a whole. The following issues are
explored: How are suspended sentences used by judges and magistrates? What is the
process for imposing a suspended sentence? How effective are suspended sentence as
a specific deterrent or rehabilitative measure? How are breaches dealt with?
The study examines the history of suspended sentences and the arguments for and
against their use, as well as considering the principles and practice governing their
use in Australia and overseas. In-depth interviews with Tasmanian judges and
magistrates provide an invaluable source of information on judicial views on a range
of issues pertaining to the use of suspended sentences. A quantitative analysis
presents empirical information on the use of suspended sentences in the Supreme and
Magistrates’ Courts, while a qualitative analysis of sentencing remarks in the
Supreme Court examines the relevance of a range of sentencing factors to the
decision to suspend. The findings of a reconviction analysis are presented, indicating
that suspended sentences may be an effective deterrent. Finally, a breach analysis
examines offending conduct in breach of a suspended sentence, explores prosecution
practices in respect of breaches and analyses judicial sentencing remarks in breach
cases. The conclusion reviews the key findings and discusses how they support the
main arguments for and against suspended sentences. The practical and policy
implications of my findings are also considered. My research is not only of
significance for Tasmania, but also has relevance and resonance for the Australian
and international use of suspended sentences and will inform broader discussions
about the utility of this sentencing option.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Bartels, LM
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