Discrepancies in judiciary’s handling of NSW domestic violence cases
Domestic violence offenders are being treated far more leniently in the state’s courts despite growing pressure to have the ‘serious epidemic’ taken more seriously, according to a landmark analysis of NSW court data.
Perpetrators are less likely to go to prison and, if they do, are more likely to get a shorter sentence. Unsupervised community-based orders, like good behaviour bonds or suspended sentences, are used more often than for non-domestic violence offenders.
However, the study’s authors have cautioned that the result may actually be a positive if magistrates are choosing to rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders instead of sending them to prison.
The study is the first of its kind and could only be conducted in NSW, the only state to separate offences that are domestic violence-related.
It compared 64,201 local court convictions for domestic and non-domestic personal violence offences including assault, stalking and property damage.
Dr Christine Bond, from Griffith University, said initial results published in the British Journal of Criminology showed a clear leniency in domestic violence-related cases even after adjusting for variables like prior convictions, gender, indigenous status, degree of injury, seriousness of the offence and whether there was a guilty plea or not.
A domestic violence offender was almost half as likely to be sent to prison. The prison sentence was an average 21 days shorter.