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The Weight of the Sword of Damocles: A Reconviction Analysis of Suspended Sentences in Tasmania


Bartels, LM, The Weight of the Sword of Damocles: A Reconviction Analysis of Suspended Sentences in Tasmania, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 42, (1) pp. 72-100. ISSN 0004-8658 (2009) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2009 Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology

DOI: doi:10.1375/acri.42.1.72


Suspended sentences are a widely used but controversial sentencing disposition. This article presents reconviction rates for all sentences imposed over a 2-year period in the Tasmanian Supreme Court, as well as examining different outcomes on the basis of key sentencing variables, including offence type and prior record. The results demonstrate that suspended sentences have comparatively low reconviction rates.The study examines the relative frequency and seriousness of offending, thereby overcoming a common criticism of reconviction studies that they are an 'all-or-nothing' measure, which does not take into account changes in offending patterns.The study also avoids the common error of misattributing reconviction rates to incidences of offending that occurred prior to the imposition of the relevant sentence by excluding pseudoreconvictions, and the findings indicate the extent to which pseudoreconvictions can skew reconviction results. In addition, the use of suspended sentences in combination with other orders, and the reconviction outcomes of such sentences, is analysed. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of my findings for the further use of suspended sentences, and for future research.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:Public law
Research Field:Public law not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Justice and the law
Objective Field:Justice and the law not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Bartels, LM (Ms Lorana Bartels)
ID Code:65100
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Law
Deposited On:2010-10-04
Last Modified:2014-12-18
Downloads:2 View Download Statistics

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