An Examination of the Arguments for and against the Use of Suspended Sentences

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    This paper examines the arguments for and against suspended sentences. The principal argument for such sentences include that they have a symbolic effect and provide a useful sentencing option; are an effective deterrent; enable offenders to avoid short terms of imprisonment and reduce the size of the prison population. The case against suspended sentences is that they are not real punishment and are seen as a ‘let off’ by offenders, the media and the public; there are theoretical difficulties in imposing the sentence and dealing with breaches; they cause net-widening and violate the proportionality principle and they favour middle-class offenders. The article evaluates these arguments against the background of in-depth recent research, especially in Tasmania and considers the practical and policy implications of qualitative and quantitative analyses of sentencing outcomes, reconviction and breach analyses and interviews with judicial officers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)119-172
    JournalFlinders Law Journal
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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