Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Details

E. Marchetti, ''Australian indigenous sentencing courts: restoring culture in the sentencing court process'' in J. Bolitho, J. Bruce & G. Mason(ed), Restorative Justice: Adults and Emerging Practice (2012) 100-120.


Indigenous sentencing courts use Australian criminal laws andprocedures when sentencing Indigenous adult offenders, butthey include the involvement and input of Indigenous Elders andCommunity Representatives. All courtrooms contain Indigenousinsignia, and the court space is shifted or remodelled to make thehearings more conducive to discussion and for the input of Indigenousknowledge. Notions of restorative justice have been associated withprocesses used in these courts due to their apparent informality andtheir reliance on principles of re-integrative shaming (Dick, 2004). Infact, the 'restorativeness' of the processes goes deeper than that since theestablishment of the courts reflect an attempt and desire to correct theharmful and disadvantageous impact the Anglo-Saxon criminal courtprocess has had on Indigenous Australians. Since the first Indigenoussentencing court was established in Port Adelaide, South Australia, inJune 1999, a number of reports and articles have been published abouthow the courts operate (Marchetti and Daly, 2005; 2007), whetherthey reduce recidivism (see, for example, Fitzgerald, 2008; Morganand Louis, 2010), and how they accommodate victims (Marchetti2010). Although this chapter summarises these previous studies, itparticularly focuses on the impact of the presence of Indigenous art,space, symbols and knowledge on a mainstream adult sentencing courtprocess to determine whether or not such cultural inclusiveness makesany difference to the manner in which justice is administered andultimately received.