: Review of suspended sentencing in the ACT

Review of suspended sentencing in the ACT

Simon Rice

In 2010 the ACT Attorney-General, Mr Simon Corbell MLA, asked the Law Reform Advisory Council (‘LRAC’) to report on the use of suspended sentences in the ACT. The referral was made in response to 2009 Australian Bureau of Statistics data which showed an increase in the number of orders in the ACT Supreme Court for fully suspended sentences of imprisonment.

After reviewing data of the previous and following years, LRAC advised that the rate was anomalous. LRAC went on to make recommendations in relation to collection and reporting of sentencing data, and raised policy issues for further consideration by the ACT government. LRAC’s report, and the government’s response, were tabled on 22 September 2011.

The ACT government agrees broadly with LRAC recommendations that will assist the Supreme Court to better record and act on sentencing data, noting that the full text of ACT Supreme Court sentencing decisions are available online, and that the possibility of an ACT sentencing database is being investigated.

LRAC’s report asked whether suspended sentences should be a sentencing option in the ACT, to which the ACT government has answered ‘yes’, it considers that suspended sentences are an appropriate sentencing option. LRAC noted that the ACT does not have a statutory presumption that the suspended sentence of imprisonment be imposed when an offender has breached their good behaviour order, and the government has said it will consult with stakeholders to determine if that should continue to be the case.

The government will also consult with stakeholders on LRAC’s suggestion that the term ‘suspended sentence’ fails to convey that the sentence that is being suspended is a sentence of imprisonment.

The full report and the government’s response are at 

SIMON RICE is Chair of the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council.

(2011) 36(4) AltLJ 282
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