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Just deserts in a post-colonial society : problems in the punishment of indigenous offenders
conference contributionposted on 2003-01-01, 00:00 authored by R Edney
An enduring aspect of the operation of the criminal justice system in Australia has been the disproportionate representation of indigenous persons. Under current sentencing principles, aboriginality can be taken into account as a factor in mitigation because of the nature of social and economic disadvantage suffered by indigenous communities. It is contended that such an approach is inadequate as it fails to comprehend the reasons for that disadvantage. In short, the effects of colonialism and dispossession. An account of punishment will be developed that colonialism and dispossession cannot be omitted from any satisfactory account of the theory and history of punishment of indigenous persons. By relying on the notion of ‘just deserts’ an account of punishment will be proposed that extends the categories currently put forward to justify punishing indigenous persons. Traditional, philosophical accounts of punishment and insights from critical race theory will both be used in an attempt to articulate what ‘just deserts’ means in the context of a post-colonial society.