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Elders sign up to reconcile offenders and victims



26 May 2009

Dr Thalia Anthony says there is little evidence to suggest that circle sentencing has produced more lenient punishments.

Responding to the announcement in the Sydney Morning Herald that the New South Wales Attorney General's department aims to develop Australia's first sentencing program with the local police that involves Pacific Islander elders, Dr Anthony says "If anything, it's (circle sentencing)produced tougher sentences."

She warns that the scheme may actually help governments absolve themselves of dealing with problems within indigenous communities.
"In addressing the enormous problem of over-incarceration for indigenous peoples, for instance, it's a way of deferring to the communities.

"It's a way of saying, 'we'll incarcerate but you go and do it'.

"Maybe it's going to be the same with this new forum; maybe it's a way of trying to devolve some responsibility but have the same outcomes with no benefit, it seems, to the offender or the community in terms of recidivism."

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