Survey: Swift, Certain and Fair Approaches to Sentencing Family Violence Offenders
The Sentencing Advisory Council has been asked to advise the Victorian Government on whether to apply ‘swift, certain and fair’ approaches when managing people who have been sentenced for family violence.
We would like your ideas and input.
Scope of This Survey
This survey has five questions:
- You don’t have to answer all the questions.
- You can answer each question briefly or in detail.
We’ve provided some brief information about ‘swift, certain and fair’ for you to consider before you begin.
Finally, you will be able to choose the level of privacy and confidentiality for your comments.
What Does ‘Swift, Certain and Fair’ Mean?
Originally developed in the United States, a ‘swift, certain and fair’ approach to sentencing involves:
- Targeting offenders serving a sentence in the community who are subject to conditions (such as attending treatment or staying free of alcohol and drugs).
- Deciding which conditions should get a fixed penalty if breached.
- Establishing a ‘behavioural contract’ with each offender – so offenders know exactly what is expected of them and what will happen if they breach a condition.
- Regular measures (such as drug testing) to check that each offender is sticking to the conditions of their sentence.
- Responding to breaches quickly – by holding a hearing (where the offender must appear in court) within 72 hours of a breach being detected.
- Responding to breaches consistently – by imposing fixed sanctions for every breach in accordance with the agreed behavioural contract.
The aim of this approach is to change the offender’s behaviour, and reduce the number of offenders who breach the conditions of their sentence.
Some researchers believe that the fixed penalties in ‘swift, certain and fair’ approaches must be short periods of custody – between a few hours and a month, depending on the type of breach.