Alternative Methods of Sentencing

Alternative Methods of Sentencing Including Circle Sentencing, Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice: aims to both address the causes of criminal behaviour and to allow the offender to rectify the harm he or she has caused. The two forms are justice conferencing and circle sentencing.

Circle sentencing: For Aboriginal offenders. Brought before a circle of people involved in the offender, including the victim, the victims family, community elders, the defence lawyer, the prosecution and magistrate.



· This is an alternative court for sentencing indigenous Australians

· It is designed for repeat offender and more serious cases

· The process is based on Aboriginal customary law, and is a form of a diversionary program

· It involves a circle of community members and a magistrate to discuss the offender’s crime and tailor the most appropriate sentence

· It involves local Aboriginal people in order to make it more meaningful

· The programs also aims to improve the understanding between Aboriginal communities and the courts

· This involves bringing together the offender and the victim, offering a chance to take responsibility for their actions and an opportunity to be confronted. It can be confronting and difficult, but it overall is voluntary

· Many victims report to the helpfulness of restorative justice in the recovery from a crime. The effectiveness is unclear, but youth conferencing initiatives show 15-20% decrease in recidivism


Extract from Legal Studies Stage 6 Syllabus. © 2009 Board of Studies NSW.