Last Updated 18 Jun 2020

Effectiveness of the Criminal Justice System in NSW

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'Evaluate the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in NSW'
The NSW criminal justice system relates to all areas associated with the law and law enforcement, including those who are incarcerated, on probation, or suspected of committing a criminal offence. In evaluating the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in NSW there are three issues which can be considered; alternatives to gaol, charge negotiation and the role of the courts.These issues promote or demote the effectiveness of the NSW criminal justice system, especially when evaluated in terms of equality, accessibility, resource efficiency, and the balance of rights for victims, offenders and society. These issues are also discussed widely in the media, which presents a different perspective for many of these issues, and provides the necessary pressure required to initiate law reform on these issues.

One of the most important issues in the NSW criminal justice system is the availability of alternatives in punishment, aside from incarceration. Apart from criminal infringement notices, there are many more serious alternatives to a prison sentence, including home detention. Home detention, created under the Home Detention Act 1996 (NSW), is applicable for certain offenders, who have committed non-violent crimes and have been sentenced to less than 18 months imprisonment.

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Home detention is likely to be controversial for more serious offences such as murder or sexual assault, as there is possible high risk of reoffending. Community service orders are also available as a means of shaming and punishing offenders, while facilitating rehabilitation by requiring a period of amending their wrongs towards the community. Diversionary programs are used to divert certain offenders from reoffending, through rehabilitation. Over 150 offenders a year complete The Drug Courts diversionary program.

According to the NSW Crime Bureau analysis of the effectiveness of the Drug court, they found that; 37% of criminals were less likely to be reconvicted for any offence, 65% were less likely to be reconvicted for offences against the person and 57% were less likely to be reconvicted for a drug offence. The use of these alternatives are effective in terms of the aforementioned criteria as it provides a sense of equality between different members of society tried for the same crimes, as they each have the capacity to be given the same diversionary program, as long as they satisfy the necessary criteria.

The diversionary programs are very resource efficient as they typically cost less per day than the $205 necessary for the average prison inmate. It also provides a balance of rights for the victims and the offenders, as well as society as they are all benefiting from these programs. Charge negotiation, including plea bargaining, is where charges are either dropped, or reduced in return for an early guilty plea, as set out in the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.

There are many issues associated with charge negotiation, as shown through 'True Plea on Justice', a Daily Telegraph article published on October 11th 2010, which details the plight of victims of crime, who are not told of the charge negotiation taking place, until they attend the trial. Under new guidelines from the state government, prosecutors must now complete a certificate detailing the consultation with victims and their families.

This reform of current guidelines shows the inadequacies when regarding the balance of rights for victims, although this issues is being rectified. Charge negotiation is also effective when assessed for resource efficiency, as the cost of a sometimes lengthy trial is avoided. The role of the courts is imperative to having an effective legal system. The role of the courts is to ensure a fair trial ensues.

Equality within the court system is a major concept, and is exemplified through the necessary impartiality of magistrates, judges and juries. Once again to ensure equity judges and magistrates are bound to follow precedent, or follow sentencing guidelines according to the Criminal Procedure Amendment (Sentencing Guidelines) Act 1998. Many of the crimes prosecuted are outlined in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), which is accessible to all members of the public, under the rule of law.

The courts attempt to use resources efficiently by using juries in all matters bar summary offences, and by requiring 'leave to seek appeal' when appealing to the Supreme Court to ensure that court resources are not tied up in unsubstantiated appeals. The courts also provide a balance for victims, offenders and society, by providing necessary sentences the magistrate or judge feels is necessary to reflect the standards of society, ensure a fair outcome for victims and also to not be excessive to offenders.

The criminal justice system in NSW is effective in the sense that it provides an equal, accessible and resource efficient system in which justice is achieved. It also provides an impartial field for offenders to be tried, and as such come to outcomes that benefit the victim and society as a whole. There have been recent developments to ensure this balance remains, as is the case of victims regarding charge negotiation, showing the development and thus effectiveness of the criminal justice system in reflecting societies beliefs and values.

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Effectiveness of the Criminal Justice System in NSW. (2017, Mar 22). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/effectiveness-of-the-criminal-justice-system-in-nsw/

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