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Analysis and Comment (26)

Cutting sentences would take little more than political will. Ian Nicholson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

How to reduce the prison population in one easy step

Alarm is spreading once again about the state of UK prisons, with reports that more than 15,000 assaults were committed by prisoners in 2013-14. Justice minister Chris Grayling might be quick to argue…
Philosophers argue that people are not over and above the systems involved in information processing –we are our brains, plus some other, equally physical stuff. Tom Blackwell/Flickr (reszied)

Irresponsible brains? The role of consciousness in guilt

In the second instalment of Biology and Blame, Neil Levy considers how neuroscience can affect legal judgements. Can human beings still be held responsible in the age of neuroscience? Some people say no…
A recent Ombudsman’s report is damning of the Victorian criminal justice sector, particularly around issues of accountability and transparency. shutterstock

Lifting the veil on the crisis in Victoria’s prisons

Victorian Ombudsman George Brouwer’s report on deaths and harm in Victorian prisons may have largely sailed under the public radar, but it shines a rare spotlight on the levels of systemic harm in custody…
The UK’s justice system has failed to protect rape complainants from harm. Valerie Everett

Suicides show how justice system fails rape victims

In the space of just over a year, two women in Greater Manchester have killed themselves because of their experiences as complainants in sexual offences cases. The challenge this poses to the criminal…
HMP Oakwood, the vanguard of British carceral design. John M/Creative Commons.

Bad design breeds violence in sterile megaprisons

In the first few weeks of 2014, private security company G4S has repeatedly had to deny reports of full-scale riots at the UK’s newest prison, HMP Oakwood, near Wolverhampton. The prison has experienced…
Mental health problems beset prisoners at very high rates. v1ctor Casale

Prison suicides betray problems with our criminal justice system

Nick Clegg has launched the Department of Health’s latest action plan for mental health services, Closing the Gap: priorities for essential change in mental health. While the report was overshadowed by…
Lawyers pass judgement on proposed cuts to legal system. AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Innocents will suffer as legal cuts put paid to due process

It’s not often you see bewigged barristers take to the streets waving placards in protest, but such were the scenes outside the Old Bailey and other courts around the country as defence lawyers demonstrated…
Weighing up cost and benefit: proposed legal aid cuts are a perversion of justice. Lonpicman

Cuts to criminal legal aid will turn defendants into products

In an adversarial criminal justice system like the one we have in England and Wales, access to justice depends on access to lawyers. The court system is complicated and confusing, a heady mix of archaic…
The ‘lock 'em up’ approach largely ignores the victim. Image from shutterstock.com

Justice reform: a better way to deal with sexual assault

All too often, governments take the lazy option when faced with public outcry about sexual offences. Their automatic, knee-jerk, politically charged response is to “get tough on crime” by imposing mandatory…
Christina Edkins' murder was a rare and awful thing. Joe Giddens/PA

The Sun splash missed point on ‘mental patient murders’

1,200 killed by mental patients – shock ten-year toll exposes care crisis The Sun used this apparently shocking statistic this week to blame the criminal justice system for the death of Christina Edkins…
Evening all: Elected commissioners are under pressure. Kenjonbro via Creative Commons

Was the election of police commissioners a mistake?

The tension between senior police officers and their elected masters has spilled over into the political arena after reports of chief constables being bullied out of their jobs and complaints of misuse…
There is a clear link between communication disorders and young offenders – but what can we do about it? Youth justice image from www.shutterstock.com

Young offenders need a verbal toolkit to unlock literacy

Half of Australia’s young male offenders have a clinically significant, previously unidentified language deficit. It’s a shocking figure that comes after ten years worth of research into the oral language…
With global attention and the Indian public so invested in the Dehli rape case, the rights of the accused to a fair trial are in jeopardy. AAP/Anindito Mukherjee

Delhi rape accused deserve a fair trial – and they’re not getting one

Sometimes, a matter of domestic law - a murder, a kidnapping, a rape - can be so horrifying that it is keenly felt, and keenly watched, around the world. This was the case with the gang rape of a 23-year-old…
Barry O'Farrell, seen here with Police Minister Mike Gallacher, has pursued several criminal law reforms aimed at disrupting criminal organisations. AAP Image/Paul Miller

Our right to silence is too important to lose

The move to dilute the right to silence in NSW is unjust, constitutionally questionable and unnecessary. The O'Farrell government announced a “watering down” of right to silence laws in response to bikie…

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