What are suspended sentences?
A suspended sentence is a prison sentence that is not put into immediate effect. A suspended sentence allows a judge to decide that the offence is serious enough for a jail term, but in the particular circumstances of the case, some or all of the imprisonment should be suspended. If the offender breaches the sentence by committing another offence, they are liable to go to prison to serve the suspended sentence.
Suspended sentences are an appropriate punishment option for many offences and can be a more effective crime deterrent than prison. Abolishing suspended sentences is likely to lead to a drastic, costly and unmanageable increase in the prison population.
Debate about suspended sentences
Recently, there has been considerable debate about the future of suspended sentences:
- In 2006 and 2008, the Sentencing Advisory Council – a Victorian statutory body which researches sentencing and advises the government – published reports on suspended sentences. In its fi rst report, the Council recommended phasing out suspended sentences over three years, along with changes to other communitybased orders. In its second report, the Council did not recommend abolishing suspended sentences. Instead, it suggested changes to a number of sentencing options, and the monitoring of the impact of these changes before any decision was made on the future of suspended sentences...
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