Tuesday, June 3, 2014
John L Anderson (University of Newcastle (Australia) Newcastle Law School) has posted The Label of Life Imprisonment in Australia: A Principled or Populist Approach to an Ultimate Sentence (UNSW Law Journal Volume, Vol. 35, No. 3, 2012) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The sentence of life imprisonment is universally either the maximum or mandatory penalty for the crime of murder in the various states and territories of Australia. It is also provided as a maximum or mandatory sentence for some other serious crimes. It is the most severe punishment available in jurisdictions where capital punishment has been abolished. In its 'truthful' form it means that the person will serve imprisonment for the term of their natural life. In practice, however, sentences of life imprisonment even when expressed in mandatory terms rarely exist without the eventual possibility of the offender being released.
Using the label of 'life sentence' can therefore be misleading and rather than being an effective form of denunciation of crime it may be reflective only of populist sentiment for extreme retribution.