Title

Sentencing and public confidence in Australia: the dynamics and foci of small group deliberations

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Stobbs, N, Mackenzie, G & Gelb, K 2014, 'Sentencing and public confidence in Australia: the dynamics and foci of small group deliberations', Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 219-237.

Published version available from:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0004865814537652

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

This study is the first of its kind in Australia to use the deliberative small group methodology to explore participants’ deeper, nuanced thoughts on specific criminal justice issues in order to gain insight into the underlying beliefs that influence people’s opinions on sentencing. The use of small group discussions allows an analysis of the dynamics of people’s interactions and the potential of these to elicit deeper, more thoughtful deliberation. Participants’ comments around two policy areas – mandatory sentencing and the use of alternatives to imprisonment – were founded on concerns about the need for judges to tailor the sentence to fit the specific circumstances of each case. The methodology itself has shown that people may change their initial opinions on complex issues when given the opportunity to discuss and reflect on their beliefs.