2014 - Vol 39(3) - Law In Open & Closed Environments

AltLJ39-3-Cover-smWild wild law

Accessing justice

Regulating refugees

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Convenience voting: The end of election day?

Graeme Orr

When and where we vote is a central element of the ritual of electoral democracy. Over the past decade there has been a significant shift towards ‘convenience’ voting in many western democracies; a shift which threatens to deconstruct the very notion of election day.

Convenience voting involves ‘relaxed administrative rules and procedures by which citizens can cast a ballot at a time and place other than the precinct on election day’.1 The idea is to offer electors numerous different paths to the ballot box besides the traditional practice of attending a local polling station on election day. The assumption is that increasing numbers of people are either so time-poor or unmotivated by electoral politics that turning out on election day is an unreasonable expectation.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 151


‘Structuring’ Judicial Sentencing Discretion

Nigel Stobbs, Lisa Kleinau and Shelley Kolstad

Consistency, guidance or pandering to the punitive?

Until quite recently, most Australian jurisdictions gave statutory force to the principle of imprisonment as a sanction of last resort, reflecting its status as the most punitive sentencing option open to the court.1 That principle gave primary discretion as to whether incarceration was the most appropriate means of achieving the purpose of a sentence to the sentencing court, which received all of the information relevant to the offence, the offender and any victim(s). The disestablishment of this principle is symptomatic of an increasing erosion of judicial discretion with respect to sentencing, which appears to be resulting in some extremely punitive consequences.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 156


Prisoners And Their Access To The Internet In The Pursuit Of Education

Lisa Harrison

prisioners-and-education-smWe live in an increasingly connected world. The internet pervades our everyday existence, on our smart phones, tablets and computers, transforming the way we share and communicate with one another, shop, eat out, bank, travel, exercise, play and learn. It is often celebrated as a fundamentally democratic medium that allows the free flow of information and ideas. However, some segments of the population have little or no access to the internet and are increasingly excluded from this new mode of being and interacting. One such group is the prison population. Prisoners in Australia are generally locked away not just physically, but also virtually, with very few states or territories allowing prisoners any sort of internet access. With TAFEs and universities increasingly adopting online teaching environments, the impact of such policies is to greater disadvantage prisoners who seek to utilise their prison time to better themselves through education. The importance of education has been recognised by the international community, as has its application to prisoners, whose right to education is not lost simply by virtue of their imprisonment. Further, education plays a critical role in the rehabilitation of offenders, and has been proven to decrease recidivism markedly. This article argues that while there are real security risks associated with providing internet access for prisoners, the current blanket restrictions in place in most Australian jurisdictions cannot be justified. As will be demonstrated, there are a number of ways in which prisons can, and do, provide limited access to the internet for prisoners to facilitate their engagement in learning. Such models offer a way for prisons Australia-wide to protect the rights of prisoners and simultaneously protect the safety and interests of victims and the broader community.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 159


‘To Watch, To Never Look Away’

Alexander Reilly, Gabrielle Appleby and Rebecca LaForgia

offshore-processing-intro-smThe public’s responsibility for Australia’s offshore processing of asylum seekers

To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.
Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living 1
(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 163


Immigrant Women And Family Violence

Lauren Gray, Patricia Easteal and Lorana Bartels

Will the new exceptions help or hinder victims?

International research has found that immigrant women are especially vulnerable to various types of violence in the home.1 For example, financial abuse such as deprivation of food and clothing may be more common among migrant women, who might lack both the knowledge about government allowances and the English language proficiency that would give them access to relevant information.2 In addition, immigrant women may be particularly susceptible to partner rape.3 They may also be at increased risk of violence because of familial subordination, fear of ostracism by community members if they leave their abuser, religious beliefs, economic dependence or a lack of familiarity with the legal provisions available in the land to which they have migrated.4 On top of all of these factors, ‘[i]mmigration intensifies domestic violence and causes vulnerabilities via social and cultural dislocation that impair [their] management of domestic violence’.5 Indeed, psychological problems may result from migration, which can in turn make immigrant women even more vulnerable to domestic violence.6

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 167


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