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Sensitivity Warning

First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.


Circle Sentencing is an alternative sentencing method for Aboriginal offenders, which is available in 12 NSW Local Courts. Under Circle Sentencing, the magistrate works with Aboriginal elders, victims and the offender’s family to determine an appropriate sentence.

This BOCSAR study examined three issues:

  1. The probability of imprisonment.
  2. The probability of at least one re-offence within 12 months.
  3. The number of days between sentencing and the offender’s first re-offence.

After controlling for a variety of defendant-case characteristics (e.g., prior offending, offence severity, age,  gender and socioeconomic status), the study found that, when compared to Aboriginal offenders sentenced in the traditional way, offenders participating in Circle Sentencing:

  • Are 9.3 percentage points less likely to receive a prison sentence.
  • Are 3.9 percentage points less likely to reoffend within 12 months.
  • Take 55 days longer to reoffend if and when they do.
Publication Details
Access Rights Type:
Crime and Justice Bulletin 226