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The recidivism of offenders given suspended sentences in New South Wales, Australia


Weatherburn, D and Bartels, L, The recidivism of offenders given suspended sentences in New South Wales, Australia, The British Journal of Criminology, 48, (5) pp. 665-681. ISSN 0007-0955 (2009) [Refereed Article]

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The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at: Copyright 2008 The author.

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DOI: doi:10.1093/bjc/azn049


The suspended sentence has been described as the 'Sword of Damocles' and praised as a means of exploiting the deterrent effects of prison while avoiding some of its human and financial costs. The deterrent value of suspended sentences is said to derive from the fact that the consequences of reoffending during the period of a suspended sentence are 'known and certain', whereas those attending a breach of probation are not. Past research, however, has shown that suspended sentences do little to reduce the use of imprisonment and, in some cases, actually increase it. Studies purporting to show the deterrent effectiveness of suspended sentences, on the other hand, have been few in number and methodologically weak. In this article, we use propensity matching to compare the effect of suspended sentences on recidivism to that of supervised bonds. We find no difference in rates of reconviction following the imposition of these sanctions. The implications of this finding for the UK system of suspended sentences are discussed.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:recidivism, suspended sentences, deterrent effectiveness, cost
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, L (Ms Lorana Bartels)
ID Code:65101
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:Law
Deposited On:2010-10-04
Last Modified:2014-12-18
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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