Suspended sentences in Tasmania: key research findings

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    Although there are numerous arguments for and against the use of suspended sentences, improving our knowledge of how this sentencing disposition is applied in practice will help inform the debate. This paper provides an overview of the use of suspended sentences in the Supreme Court of Tasmania, as well as an analysis of reconviction and breach rates for those placed on such an order. It was found that those offenders serving suspended sentences had the lowest reconviction rates compared to those who received non-custodial and unsuspended sentences and this held true irrespective of prior criminal history. Young offenders had particularly low reconviction rates post a suspended sentence, but the paper warns of the risk that those offenders who are reconvicted may attract inappropriate, more severe sentences, as those who had previously been given a suspended sentence were found to be more likely to receive a subsequent (and more serious) unsuspended sentence, regardless of offence severity. An additional finding was that only five to six percent of offenders who were in breach of a suspended sentence were returned to court for a breach action. The paper stresses the need to improve the management of breaches and for readily accessible and up-to-date sentencing information, as well as arguing that offence- or length-based restrictions on suspended sentences is unnecessary.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-6
    JournalTrends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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