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Report deems US criminal sentencing model a bad fit for Victoria

Report deems US criminal sentencing model a bad fit for Victoria

Legal experts in Victoria have rejected the Swift, Certain and Fair sentencing model, adopted in some parts of the US to inform the management of drug offenders.

A new report released by Victoria’s Sentencing Advisory Council has told the state government not to take the same route as some states in the US to manage family violence. The recommendation was endorsed by “near-unanimous” stakeholder opposition to the US model.

After examining all evidence on the effectiveness of the Swift, Certain and Fair (SCF approach) sentencing model, researchers rejected any suggestion the model should be adopted by Victoria’s courts and corrections systems.

“The model is not appropriate for family violence offenders in Victoria, and could have serious unintended consequences,” council chair professor Arie Freiberg said.

The Victorian attorney-general asked the council to examine the sentencing model which is used in some parts of the US on recommendation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The council said there was limited evidence to show that SCF approach, which includes short terms of imprison men, worked in the sentencing and management of people who had perpetrated family violence.

The council also highlighted Victoria’s lack of capacity to house family violence offenders

Among some of the other reasons cited by the council not to adopt the SCF approach was the fact that the model did not protect survivors or affected family members; and that the scheme was likely to disproportionately affect certain community groups.

The council said that other reforms could deal with issues accountability among family violence offenders, recommending changes that would allow community correction orders to be processed with “fast tracking”.

Another recommendation was to introduce a judicial monitoring that would see perpetrators report to the court and have their progress monitored.

“The council has recommended practical reforms that will increase the accountability of family violence offenders sentenced to community correction orders and strengthen the system’s response to changes in family violence risk, even where no breach has yet occurred,” Professor Freiberg said.

“These recommended reforms are one part of the broader criminal justice and community response needed to reduce family violence.”

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