Jesuit Social Services was pleased to contribute to the Northern Territory Law Reform Committee’s consultation on mandatory sentencing and community-based sentencing options.
Our submission outlined our opposition to mandatory sentencing and recommended the repeal of all mandatory sentencing provisions in the NT under the Sentencing Act 1995, the Domestic and Family Violence Act 2007 and the Misuse of Drugs Act 1990.
We also put forward recommendations for the implementation of more effective community-based options in the Northern Territory, informed by our recent research into Community Corrections Orders in Victoria, and highlighted the importance of wider system reforms that embed Aboriginal cultural authority, leadership and community participation within the justice system.
Our recommendations included:
- Adequate investment by the Northern Territory Government to support greater availability of culturally-appropriate community-based sentencing options and supports (including therapeutic drug and alcohol services, mental health services, therapeutic domestic, family and sexual violence services, and vocational and pre-vocational training options and employment support), including for Aboriginal people living in remote communities.
- That the design of community-based options be informed by the evidence of key elements of effective therapeutic programs and community work programs.
- Independent, robust and ongoing evaluation of the use and implementation of an expanded community-based sentencing scheme that includes attention to the perspectives of people subject to these orders.
- Adequate investment by the Northern Territory Government for the reestablishment of Community Courts and resourcing of new and existing Law and Justice Groups to engage Aboriginal cultural authority and community participation in the sentencing process, under the Aboriginal Justice Agreement.
- Expanded opportunities for offenders and victims in the adult jurisdiction to participate in restorative justice processes.