This paper outlines the results of recent Australian research studies on public attitudes to sentencing.
The former NSW Chief Justice, James Spigelman AC QC, commented that “sentencing engages the interest, and sometimes the passion, of the public at large more than anything else judges do”. Public opinion on sentencing is important for two main reasons. First, it has a major impact on the state of public confidence in the criminal justice system, and this can impact on the system’s ability to function effectively. Secondly, public attitudes have become a key factor in shaping sentencing policy. This e-brief outlines the results of recent Australian research studies on public attitudes to sentencing.