Narratives of mitigation Sentencing Indigenous criminal defendants in South Australia’s higher courts
In their statistical analyses of higher court sentencing in South Australia, Jeffries and Bond (2009) found evidence that Indigenous offenders were treated more leniently than non-Indigenous offenders, when they appeared before the court under similar numerical circumstances. Using a sample of narratives for criminal defendants convicted in South Australia's higher courts, the current article extends Jeffries and Bond's (2009) prior statistical work by drawing on the 'focal concerns' approach to establish whether, and in what ways, Indigeneity comes to exert a mitigating influence over sentencing. Results show that the sentencing stories of Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders differed in ways that may have reduced assessments of blameworthiness and risk for Indigenous defendants. In addition, judges highlighted a number of Indigenous-specific constraints that potentially could result in imprisonment being construed as an overly harsh and costly sentence for Indigenous offenders.
Journal of sociology
Courts and Sentencing