[Content warning: content includes discussions about rape and sexual assault]
The Sentencing Advisory Council of Tasmania is currently considering the sentencing of offenders convicted of sex offences in Tasmania. They have released a research paper and are seeking public opinion. In particular, they are looking at current sentencing practices for sex offenders and how these compare with sentencing practices for other serious offences and for similar offences in other Australian jurisdictions. They are seeking public opinion about whether the current sentencing practices for sex offenders in Tasmania are appropriate.
I strongly urge all Tasmanian’s to read and respond to the Council’s paper.
Having read the paper and consultation questionnaire, I am astounded. I do not want to talk too much about my own opinions since, as the Sentencing Advisory Council rightly suggests, “The question of whether current sentencing practices for sex offences in Tasmania are appropriate is not susceptible to an easy answer.”
Please read the research paper for yourself and respond via the community consultation form. The research paper is quite heavy with data, so if you feel intimidated, I suggest you read the consultation form first and refer back to the research paper for more detailed statistical information. Please be warned that both papers contain confronting information.
It is important to realise that the seriousness with which we consider matters of rape and sexual assault in the courts reflects the seriousness with which such crimes are considered in our society. With all the discussions of rape culture currently taking place, this is a chance to discuss not only how such incidents are considered by our media, but also by our legal system. It is also a chance to create change. How we respond to sex offences, whether by sweeping them under the rug, with a slap on the wrist or by condemning such behaviour, is ultimately decided by the justice system. If we can begin to take sex offences seriously as a crime, then this is one way we can question the rape culture which affects so many.
This is not something to be considered lightly or swiftly. Please read the research and consultation papers carefully and make sure you understand the definitions (such as those of sentencing options with a mind to their potential consequences) and the data supplied before responding. The closing date for public submissions is Friday 17 May 2013.
The Sentencing Advisory Council is also interested in holding a public forum on the matter. If you would be interested in attending, please register your interest by calling Lisa Gregg on 62334755 or emailing [email protected] . We need a public response to this paper if we want rape and sexual assault to be matters taken seriously by the government, courts, and our society, so please consider attending.
You can find more about the Tasmanian Sentencing Advisory Council and their current work on sex offender sentencing here.
I apologise to my regular readers for hijacking the blog for this announcement which was neither humorous nor pop culture related, but it was important. Please forgive me and help me spread the word.