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The significant overrepresentation of Indigenous people in Australian prisons has been the subject of numerous studies. In this article, we build on recent research suggesting that sentencing in domestic violence cases might be an important contributor to this overrepresentation of Indigenous people. We broaden the existing research by examining differences for Indigenous and non-Indigenous defendants in domestic violence cases across a range of sentencing outcomes including imprisonment, probation, fines, and good behavior orders. We also consider whether the degree of geographic remoteness of the court influences these sentencing outcomes. To accomplish this, we use administrative court data from Queensland, Australia, and employ a multinomial hierarchical modeling strategy appropriate for nested court-level multilevel data. The findings further support recent Australian research suggesting that there are sentencing disparities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in relation to domestic violence, and in particular, that harsher sentences such as imprisonment are disproportionately reserved for Indigenous defendants. Our research demonstrates that these disparities in the likelihood of imprisonment occur irrespective of defendants' domestic violence protection order (DVO) breach histories and the location of the sentencing court. Based on the findings, we conclude with a discussion of possible ways forward. Although there is no question that Indigenous women should be safe and free from violence, supporting a harsher sentencing regime for those who breach DVOs is not effective. Instead, we argue that flexible strategies that work within and for Indigenous communities in Australia are required.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of interpersonal violence
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Deliberate, often repetitive, physical abuse by one family member against another: marital partners, parents, children, siblings, or any other member of a household.
Decisions made by the United States Supreme Court.
Violence or other hostile behavior arising when an ethnic group either feels itself under threat, or where it seeks to assert its superiority or dominance over other groups.
Experience of and exposure to VIOLENCE.
Violence based on gender that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. (From www.who.int/topics/gender_based_violence/en/)
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