Trauma-informed sentencing of serious violent offenders: an exploration of judicial dispositions with a gendered perspective

Victoria Jackson, Danny H. Sullivan, Daveena Mawren, Arie Freiberg, Jayashri Kulkarni, Rajan Darjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Experience of psychological trauma is correlated with violent offending, with exposure reported for most offenders entering the criminal justice system. The practice of trauma-informed sentencing recognises this complex and consistent relationship, and endeavours to respond in a way that avoids re-traumatisation and reduces harm to offenders and victims. Trauma-informed approaches to offenders improve safety in custodial settings, enhance prospects of correctional rehabilitation and recovery from mental illness and promote the health and welfare of staff working with offenders. This quantitative pilot study examines the identification and impact of trauma–as recorded in sentencing decisions–for homicide perpetrators in Victoria, with particular attention to trauma-informed sentencing and whether or not gender makes a difference. Traumatic experiences were described in a high proportion of cases but only explicitly recognised in a minority. Trauma-informed sentencing recommendations were rare. Collaboration between clinical and legal professionals to inform and enhance trauma-informed procedures is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology & Law
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • complex trauma
  • gendered sentencing
  • homicide offenders
  • trauma-informed sentencing

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